Car Wars Down Under: A rollicking yarn on the life and times of the first Australian Land Speed Record

There’s a new book out: “Car Wars Down Under”. The subtitle is “The untold story of Australia’s first land speed record”, written by Murray Hubbard.

I wondered if it was a story for the mechanically minded, car enthusiast: A lone back yard mechanic with an inventive approach involving carburettors and camshafts.

As it turns out it is a rollicking yarn involving hardcore business, invective marketing, ambition, a high-risk approach to communication, the occasional rouge character, and intense competition. Set around the time of the first world war which alone produced some unexpected situations.

Like a good biography is not just a list of the fine details of one person’s life. It’s about the life and the times of people and an event.

This should not surprise those who know Murray, who is a motoring journalist but, among other things, was a three-time finalist for investigative reporting in the Walkley Awards.

And he wrote the manuscript for the multi-award-winning “The Day of the Roses”, a Channel 10 miniseries and telemovie.

Subjects covered include (time in the interview listed in mm:ss)

  • Why a picture in front of a pyramid is significant (1:25)
  • Many characters had a start in the bicycle industry – how di this help? (3:17)
  • The limitations of the Ford Model T (5:49)
  • Doctors and others benefited from the development of cars (7:20)
  • Alec Fraser Jewel – a character and a rogue (9:11)
  • The first world war brought animosity to the Germans but also the Americans! (11:10)
  • Why one major player started a car magazine which could have become cheap advertising favouring his product but ended up being a great ambassador for improving conditions for vehicles (16:46)
  • Car events and the Hamilton Hill Climb
  • Fred Eager – Heir apparent to a big business but also becoming their top driver and why the opposition had to establish a race for the land speed record (32:47)
  • The vehicles – great speeds across the sand where aerodynamics may have made the difference (37:12)
  • A few other characters – Professor Starlight and Peter Jackson (45:37)

Subjects include

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