Norman Dewis would've been 100 this year.
Last week would've marked the 100th birthday of legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis OBE.
Born on August 3, 1920, Dewis joined Jaguar in 1952 and remained there for 33 years. During that spell, he helped develop some of Jaguar's most iconic cars including the Mk1 and XJ, C-Type, D-Type, and the mid-engined XJ13 prototype. He also played a key role in the disc braking system co-developed with Dunlop.
He didn't race too much, with Jaguar preferring to keep Dewis safe, although he did compete occasionally for the company, including at the 1952 Mille Miglia where he navigated for Stirling Moss in a disc-braked C-type.
The duo returned to the event, these days a classic rally, in 2012. There they reunited with the same car they dove 60 years earlier for a documentary, "The Racers That Stopped the World." It will be broadcast for the first time by Sky Documentaries this Friday and be available on demand.
He also raced at Le Mans, achieving a speed of 192 mph (309 km/h) in a D-Type in 1955.
Away from competition, Dewis set a production car speed record in 1953. Driving a modified Jaguar XK120 on the Jabbeke highway in Belgium, Dewis achieved a speed of 172.412 mph (277 km/h). Overall it is thought that he completed more than a million test miles at an average speed of over 100 mph (161 km/h).
Perhaps Dewis' most famous entry into Jaguar folklore was when he drove an E-Type from Coventry to Geneva overnight for it to appear at the 1961 motor show, where the now-legendary sports car proved to be a star attraction.
Dewis continued to be a global ambassador for Jaguar following his retirement in 1985 and worked with the brand when it produced the "missing six" continuation Lightweight E-types in 2014 – he of course helped develop the originals back in the 1960s.
Dewis received the Order of the British Empire (OBE), in recognition of his services to Jaguar and the British motor industry, in December 2014. He passed away on June 8 last year, aged 98. He had hoped to drive a Jaguar at 100 mph (161 km/h) once more on his 100th birthday but sadly never got the chance.
AGUAR REMEMBERS LEGENDARY TEST DRIVER NORMAN DEWIS ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BIRTH
Today Jaguar is remembering one of its most-loved and admired former employees, Coventry-born test driver and development engineer Norman Dewis OBE, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 3 August.
Today marks 100 years since the birth of Norman Dewis OBE, the Jaguar test driver and engineer who developed dozens of Jaguars including the iconic E-type
Dewis is widely regarded as Britain's greatest test driver. It’s estimated he completed more than one million test miles at average speeds over 100mph during his career
From the very start of his Jaguar employment Dewis played a pivotal role in the development of the revolutionary Jaguar / Dunlop disc braking system
Unseen footage of Dewis and Stirling Moss reliving their 1952 Mille Miglia campaign with the pioneering disc-braked Jaguar C-type will be broadcast by Jaguar UK partner Sky Documentaries – live from today via Sky On Demand and Sky Go
Coventry, UK – 3 August 2020: Today Jaguar is remembering one of its most-loved and admired former employees, Coventry-born test driver and development engineer Norman Dewis OBE, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 3 August.
During his 33-year career with Jaguar, which began on 1 January 1952, Dewis was responsible for developing some of the most iconic Jaguars ever: 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.
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 navigator for Stirling Moss in a disc-braked C-type.
The story of their participation in the 2012 Mille Miglia, reunited with the car they drove 60 years earlier, is the subject of a 30-minute documentary with technology at its heart. ‘The Racers That Stopped the World’ will be broadcast for the first time by Jaguar UK partner Sky Documentaries this Friday and will also take residence in Sky Documentaries’ on-demand library alongside other extraordinary stories.
In 1953, Dewis set a 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.
After retirement 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.
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, but he sadly died on 8 June 2019, aged 98.