Legendary Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis had an extra reason to celebrate at the start of 2015 as he was recognised and rewarded in Her Majesty’s New Year Honours List.
Norman developed 25 significant Jaguar cars and has gained a reputation for being Britain’s greatest test driver. Among the cars that he helped to develop are the Le Man-winning C-type and D-type racing cars, the XK 140 and 150 sports cars, the 2.4/3.4 and Mk II saloons and the legendary E-type. Add to this plenty of other famous saloons, mid-engine prototypes and more vehicles to make up Norman’s test-driving history.
Speaking about Norman getting an OBE, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations and Chairman of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust John Edwards said: “Jaguar owes a huge debt to Norman Dewis. His incredible skills have resulted in some of the finest cars this company has ever made – whether they were designed for the road or the racing circuit. The Norman Dewis of today is the same quietly confident and modest man of the 1950s – he remains a world-class Jaguar ambassador. It is fantastic to see his contribution to Jaguar, and to British engineering, recognised in Her Majesty’s New Year Honours List, with the award of an OBE.”
As well as his test driving achievements, Norman was also a co-driver to British racing legend Sir Stirling Moss at the 1952 Mille Miglia, where they rode in a C-type. In 1953, Norman set a 172.412 mph production car speed record on a closed section of the Jabbeke highway in Belgium in a modified Jaguar XK 120.
He took part in the 1955 Le Mans 24 hour race where he drove a 190 mph works D-type. Norman’s career in endurance racing continued in the 1950s when he competed in the Goodwood Nine Hours.
Norman is recognised as one of the last living links to what is regarded as the golden era of the British motor industry. This was the post World War II years, during which period Jaguar rebuilt itself as a maker of champion sports cars.
Over the course of 2014, Norman also took part in Jaguar’s 60th anniversary celebrations by appearing in the race-winning D-type. This car went with him to the 2014 Goodwood Revival, where he showed that he hadn’t lost much of his skill behind the wheel. He also went wherever Jaguar did that year to chat with fans and friends, who will have seen him dressed in his distinctive bootlace tie and cowboy boots.
Norman said that he thinks the D-type is the best car that he worked on, recalling when he got the car up to 192 mph on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans in order to pass Karl Kling who was in a Mercedes.
At present, Norman is working with Jaguar Heritage Business, a new organisation from Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, to help showcase its capabilities and vision.
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