Norman Dewis OBE 1920 – 2019

We are sad to report the death of a man who led a most remarkable motoring life. On one or two occasions Norman visited the LAC and gave fascinating talks on his motoring exploits as Jaguar’s chief development and test engineer.

Perhaps he was most noted for his development work with Dunlop on the disc brake for motor cars. Although first appearing on the Jaguar C type at Le Mans, it became available for road-going use on the XK150 with disc brakes all-round.

He set a record at Jabbeke in Belgium driving a modified XK120 down the measured mile both ways at a mean average speed of 172.412mph; apparently at the end of one of the runs the front wheels were observed to be 2 inches clear of the road. This record still stands to this day as that section of road is no longer in use. A memorial to this feat stands at the site, even now.

In one talk he mentioned having done in excess of 1 million miles testing at MIRA, all of which was at 100mph plus.

His favourite Jaguar was the fabulous XJ13 which was being developed for Le Mans, but never competed. When testing the car on the high speed bowl at MIRA, the offside back wheel collapsed both barrel rolling and over-ending him on the grass infield. Norman escaped with no more than a few bruises and reported for work the next day as if nothing had happened. Subsequently the car was totally rebuilt and his ambition was to drive the car once more on his 100th birthday at MIRA at more than 100mph. Sadly this now cannot happen, but Norman has had a remarkable life, is known as a great ambassador for the Jaguar marquee and was welcomed in the many countries he visited throughout the world.

Brian Ekin