The New Years Honours list contained a delightful surprise for Jaguar enthusiasts, with the news that legendary Jaguar test and development engineer Norman Dewis had received an OBE for services to the motor industry. Dewis, whose greatest achievements include his famous overnight drive from Coventry to Geneva in a prototype E-type roadster to meet the motor show reveal with Sir William Lyons, is currently a very active ambassador for the company he’s most readily associated with.
Norman is now 94, and as served as a racing driver for Jaguar – although his testing and development role is what he’s most well known for. He was heavily involved in the development of the E-, C-, D-type and XK, and his fingerprints are on all the company’s cars, right through to the XJ40. Other career highlights include setting a new production car speed record on the public road in an XK120, averaging 172.4mph over two flying-mile runs in Jabbeke, Belgium in October 1953. He also cites his crash in the XJ13 at MIRA as being one of the most memorable points of his career.
His current duties centre on Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations’ new Heritage Business, and supports the opening of the new Heritage workshop at Browns Lane. In the JLR press release that accompanied the OBE announcement, John Edwards, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, and Chairman of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, 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.