The man responsible for developing some of the most iconic Jaguars ever, Norman Dewis OBE, would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 3 August 2020.
Regarded by many as Britain’s greatest test driver, Dewis completed more than one million test miles at average speeds over 100mph during his career.
Norman Dewis – Illustrious Career
The Coventry-born legend spent 33-years of his illustrious career with Jaguar, beginning on 1 January 1952 and was responsible for developing some of the most iconic Jaguars ever including saloons from Mk1 to XJ, sports and racing cars including multiple Le Mans 24 Hours-winning C-types and D-types, the E-type, and mid-engined XJ13 prototype.
He also played a pivotal role in the development of the revolutionary Jaguar / Dunlop disc braking system – technology that changed the automotive world and is credited with saving countless lives across the globe.
Recognised as a fearless and extraordinary talent, Dewis was considered too valuable to risk as a works racing driver but did take part in a number of high-profile motorsport events for Jaguar including the 1952 Mille Miglia – as a navigator for Stirling Moss in a disc-braked C-type.
In 1953, Dewis set an eye-watering 172.412 mph production car speed record in a modified Jaguar XK120 on a closed section of the Jabbeke highway in Belgium, and in 1955 he raced a D-type at up to 192mph during the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s estimated he completed more than a million test miles at an average speed of 100mph-plus.
And, when Jaguar needed an extra E-type to be driven overnight from Coventry to support the car’s launch at Geneva in 1961, there was only one man for the job.
Retiring in 1985, Dewis continued to be a global ambassador for Jaguar and a great friend to the brand, which saw him consulting with the Jaguar Classic team on the 2014 launch of the ‘missing six’ continuation Lightweight E-types, a car he originally helped develop in the 1960s.
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In recognition of his services to Jaguar and the British motor industry, in December 2014 Norman Dewis received the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Norman wished to celebrate his 100th birthday on 3 August 2020 by driving a Jaguar at 100mph once more. Sadly, the humble automotive expert died on 8 June 2019, aged 98.