Jaguar remembers legendary Coventry-born driver

Jaguar is remembering its legendary test driver Norman Dewis on what would have been his 100th birthday.

The Coventry-born test driver and development engineer would have celebrated his 100th birthday today (Monday, August 3).

Norman, who lived in Humber Road in Stoke for many years, began a 33-year career with Jaguar on January 1 1952, during which he was responsible for developing some of the most famous Jaguars ever.

They included saloons spanning the Mk1 to the XJ, sports and racing cars and a host of sports cars – including multiple Le Mans 24 Hours-winning C-types and D-types, the E-Type, and mid-engined XJ13 prototype.

Norman 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.

Although he was considered too valuable to risk as a works racing driver, Norman 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.

Jaguar remembers legendary test driver Norman Dewis on the 100th anniversary of his birth

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 which gets its television premiere this week.

‘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.

In 1953 Norman set a production car speed record when he reached 172.412 mph in a modified Jaguar XK120 on a closed section of the Jabbeke highway in Belgium.

Two years later he raced a D-Type at up to 192mph during the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Jaguar remembers legendary test driver Norman Dewis on the 100th anniversary of his birth

It is estimated that he completed more than a million test miles at an average speed of 100mph-plus.

Norman also completed a historic drive from Coventry to Geneva in a Jaguar E-Type.

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.

In 1961, he set off   from the Coventry car maker’s factory   for the 1961 Geneva Motor Show – with just 13 hours to complete his journey.

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He was driving a brand new E-Type which the company wanted to unveil at the prestigious event.

Norman made it, completing the 750-mile motoring marathon with just ten minutes to spare.

Following his retirement in 1985 Normal took-up a role as a global ambassador for Jaguar.

This 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 received the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Norman died just over a year ago, on June 8, 2019.

Had he lived to be 100 he wanted to mark the occasion by again driving a Jaguar at 100mph.