Luxury products are David Dowsey's passion. Beautiful books are his life. Combining the two is what he does best. Presented here is his catalogue of published works, and works in progress.
Aston Martin: Power, Beauty and Soul
Sophistication, luxury and performance are Aston Martin's hallmarks. And yet the British marque has had a complicated and insecure history. After more than 100 years, however, it has also proved itself a great survivor.
Over the last century Aston Martin has had many owners. Aston Martin: Power, Beauty and Soul focusses one of the most successful periods of stewardship: that of Ford Motor Company.
Following Ford's purchase in 1987 of a majority shareholding, grave fears were held for Aston Martin’s future, indeed, for its very ‘Britishness’. But these fears proved unfounded. It went from strength to strength, rising to an enviable position of financial security, a position that it had never held over its storied history
Over 352 pages, Aston Martin: Power, Beauty and Soul examines 64 Aston Martin and Lagonda cars that were produced in the exciting and productive period following the Ford majority acquisition. Some are well-known production models. Others are after-market conversions conducted by the Aston Martin Works or outside styling houses and engineering companies. Aston Martin's forays into motorsport during this period are also examined.
Importantly, David Dowsey was granted unprecedented access to inside information and photographs of the most extraordinary custom-made vehicles made by Aston Martin for very special – and secretive – customers, which allowed him to bring them to light for the very first time. Never-before-seen details of these ultra-expensive hand-built cars are included, along with behind-the-scenes commentary from those closest to these top-secret projects.
Interwoven throughout the book are the stories of the people that brought the cars to life and who were responsible for making this niche company a world-class manufacturer of the most envied luxury vehicles available today.
Comprehensive technical specifications accompany each vehicle; illustrator Mike Harbar’s delightful renderings add a charming bespoke dimension, befitting their subject.
Making the Cut: The Power and Passion behind a Tailoring Dynasty
Colourful criminals and tales of lunatic asylums, Ponzi schemes, take-over bids, and FBI phone-taps are not the usual stories associated with a tailor. But the story of JH Cutler is no ordinary story.
JH Cutler of Sydney has – over its unbroken 134-years and four generations – firmly established itself as one of the world's most respected and highly regarded bespoke tailors and shirt-makers.
David Dowsey, has traced the history of the Cutler family back to mid-nineteenth century England. The Ballarat gold rush originally brought the Cutlers to Australia in 1861 and, from there, Joseph Handel Cutler traveled to Sydney, establishing the JH Cutler bespoke tailoring firm that exists to this day, in 1884.
Along the way, the Cutler family and company witnessed two world wars, the Great Depression, and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Intertwining these milestones are stories of famous performing artists, sports stars, country landowners, captains of industry and major politicians, including numerous prime ministers.
With a foreword by Leo Schofield AM, this superlative large scale hardbound book features the finest materials, including a specially made slipcase and a bookmark featuring a miniature JH Cutler trouser pattern attached by JH Cutler ribbon.
The story is lavishly illustrated throughout with a combination of historical photographs from the Cutler family archives and pictures taken by Sydney-based photographer Richard Weinstein.
A limited edition museum-worthy version is available featuring an unparalleled Macassar ebony and burl walnut presentation box built by the world’s most elegant furniture maker and designer David Boucher that incorporates a removable reading stand, bottle of single malt Tasmanian Lark Distillery whiskey, two Riedel glasses and a pair of engraved shagreen coasters.
One of the world’s most expensive books, the limited edition of five also comes with a bespoke JH Cutler sports coat made from Dormeuil Extreme Vicuna cloth.
Peleus Press, 2014 (including limited edition version). National Library Collection ISBN: 9780957875944.
Elfin: The Spirit of Speed
Magnificent stories often originate from humble beginnings. And so it is with Elfin Sports Cars.
Built in a Besser Block factory in suburban Adelaide, Elfin's products were at the vanguard of competitive Australian motorsport from the late 1950s until the premature death of founder Garrie Cooper, at just 46 years of age, in 1982.
From spritely closed-wheel sports cars to ferocious V8-powered Formula 5000s the greatest Australian drivers of the time – including Vern Schuppan, John McCormack, Larry Perkins, John Bowe, Frank Matich, Kevin Bartlett and Spencer Martin, and international luminaries, Formula One World Champion, James Hunt, and Ferrari ace, Didier Pironi – drove Elfin to 29 major Australian titles, along with winning the Singapore, Malaysian, and New Zealand Grands Prix along the way.
Today almost every Elfin built remains extant and many are still competing in historic motorsport, the ultimate testament to the skilful engineering and incredible ingenuity of Elfin Sports Cars.
With a foreword by ex-Formula One driver and Le Mans 24-Hour winner, Vern Schuppan AM, Elfin: The Spirit of Speed goes behind the legend to expose the extraordinary tales, many yet untold, from those closest to the manufacturer: family members, drivers, team members, employees, and Elfin owners; in fact more than 50 interviews were conducted by author, David Dowsey.
Specially commissioned studio photography by Richard Weinstein, along with period historic images bring the story to life, while extremely high production values create a fitting legacy to this great Australian story.
Private commission, 2018.
A Le Mans Diary
The ultimate test of mechanical and human endurance, the Le Mans 24 Hours is justly acclaimed as the greatest motoring event in the world.
Closely following the gruelling French endurance race of 2006, David Dowsey goes track-side to find the inside line on the famous Audi diesel win and the other ‘races within the race’, featuring evocative marques such as Ferrari, Porsche, Spyker, Aston Martin, Corvette, Lola, Pescarolo, and Lamborghini.
Along the way he visits the unique Aston Martin DB7 V8 Le Mans at Manoir de l'Automobile, explores Monet’s Garden, pays his respects to Leonardo da Vinci at Château d’Amboise and gets a front row seat at Le Mans scrutineering and the Drivers’ Parade; all while enjoying the famous hospitality of the Hotel de France, the home of John Wyer and his successful Aston Martin, Gulf Ford and Porsche teams from 1953 to 1975.
A Le Mans Diary features specially commissioned end papers by noted illustrator, Mike Harbar; all-colour photography by David Wright; a complete race report; and comprehensive results chart.
Doright Publishing, 2007. National Library Collection ISBN: 9780646475592.
Coming out of the cold: The intriguing story of John Morgan and Co, tailors to John F. Kennedy, Harold Macmillan and John Le Carré
Why would a US President and the British Prime Minister be sharing the same tailor during one of the biggest crises of the 20th Century? The mind boggles.
Many bespoke tailoring houses have fascinating histories and storied clients, but only one can lay claim to concurrently tailoring for John F. Kennedy and Harold Macmillan at the height of the Cold War. John Le Carré who wrote gripping spy thrillers of that era was also a customer, as was Agatha Christie. And so the plot thickens...
Coming out of the cold unravels the true story of why these fascinating people – and many more – frequented John Morgan & Co, an almost 200-year-old British bespoke tailoring house.
Written with the cooperation of John Morgan & Co proprietor Andrew Tolley, Coming out of the cold has been comprehensively compiled by David Dowsey from sources that include interviews with family members, current and surviving staff, the records of numerous British museums and archives, and extensive archival material owned by John Morgan & Co. Hundreds of period images and the specially commissioned photography of Richard Weinstein add gravitas to this most intriguing of tales.
Private commission, 2019.
On Solid Ground: 90 Years of VACC
Authored by revered motoring journalist, and creator of the Wheels Car of the Year award, Bill Tuckey, and edited by David Dowsey, On Solid Ground is the official history and story of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).
A large-scale coffee table book of 224 pages, On Solid Ground contains hundreds of historic images of Victorian automotive businesses and provides many insights into the way that Australians ‘motored’ throughout the twentieth century with the help of the salespeople, mechanics, crash repairers, tyre dealers and others, who helped keep their vehicles on the road.
VACC, 2008 (including hard cover and soft cover versions). National Library Collection ISBN: 9780949563224.
VACC: Powering automotive for 100 years
The automobile industry is the force behind a nation's motoring life. Without it, many commercial and social activities would come to an abrupt halt. The force behind Victoria's automobile industry for a century has been the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC). This is its story.
VACC: Powering automotive for 100 years is a collectible hardcover book of outstanding quality, chronicling the 100-year history of VACC and all things automotive in Australia over the past century. Authored by respected motoring journalist, Bill Tuckey – with additional text by automotive business authority, Ian Porter – and edited by David Dowsey, VACC: Powering automotive for 100 years is VACC's official centennial publication.
VACC: Powering automotive for 100 years features precious archival black and white and colour photographs of Victorian automotive identities and the businesses they have run and provides insights into the crucial role the automobile has played in Australia throughout the last century. A large-scale coffee table book of 288 pages, VACC: Powering automotive for 100 years is presented in a high-quality slipcase with ribbon bookmark.
VACC, 2019. National Library Collection, ISBN TBC.
In their Shoes: Incredible untold stories behind the world’s most famous footwear
Jesse Owens’ spiked Adidas running shoes took him to victory in the 100-metre sprint at the 1936 ‘Hitler Olympics’ in Berlin. Dorothy’s ruby slippers transported her from Oz back home to Kansas when she realised ‘there’s no place like home’. Ned Kelly’s boots provided DNA evidence that led to finding the bushranger’s missing remains more than 100 years after his death.
Shoes help us walk through life. The footwear of extraordinary people can help them live an extraordinary life. In their Shoes examines the intriguing circumstances and stories behind the footwear of those who left them behind.
An exceptional work of great scholarship by author David Dowsey, In their Shoes is a luxurious book featuring superb specially commissioned portraits and fascinating unknown stories that help the reader to re-live the lives of the wealthy, notable, and scandalous as if really ‘In their Shoes’.
Images Publishing, 2020.