I wanted personally to make you aware of some extremely sad news. The great Jaguar test driver and incredible friend of ours, Norman Dewis, has passed away aged 98.
Norman worked at Jaguar Cars from 1952 to 1985, but continued to be a fervent Jaguar global ambassador right up to his 98th year. With his infectious storytelling and unbridled enthusiasm for our cars – both modern and classic – Norman was a shining light of the Jaguar brand.
During his 33-year career with Jaguar, Norman’s development work on a huge range of Jaguars was remarkable, including:
· the multiple Le Mans-winning C- and D-type race cars: Norman himself drove a works D-type in the dramatic 1955 Le Mans 24hr;
· the pioneering XK sports cars, notably the XK120 in which he set a 172.412 mph production car speed record on a closed section of the Jabbeke highway in Belgium in 1953;
· the classic Jaguar Mk saloons;
· the legendary E-type (including the Lightweight E-type) and
· the XJ13 mid-engined prototype, from which the fearless Norman walked away unscathed after the car rolled end-over-end during a high-speed testing run.
Each and every model developed with Norman’s help remains an icon of the automotive world to this day for its impeccable blend of comfort and handling.
One of Norman’s first automotive projects is without doubt the one that has left the greatest legacy on the automotive industry: the disc brake. This innovation contributed significantly to the C-type’s success on track and to great safety improvements in road cars ever since.
The Jaguar brand is synonymous with a number of big personalities: the founder, Sir William Lyons; the great designer, Malcolm Sayer; innovative engineer, Bill Heynes; and – of course – the great test driver, Norman Dewis. Norman’s name will quite rightly go down in Jaguar history. Without his contribution to the brand during his 33-year career, or as a global ambassador in his later years, Jaguar simply wouldn’t be the same. So, I hope you’ll all join me today in saying: thank you, Norman.
We will be announcing further details on our plans to celebrate Norman’s astonishing life and achievements in due course, but it’s important that you are among the first to hear of this sad news.