- Written by webmin
Today, August 3, is the 90th birthday of Norman Dewis, whose 33-year career as chief test development engineer has made him one of the most important figures in the success of Jaguar. Dewis did it all: He rode with Sir Stirling Moss in a C-Type in the 1952 Mille Miglia; set a 172.412 MPH production car record with a modified XK120 at Jabbeke in Belgium, helped develop the Dunlop disc brake that helped Jaguar win Le Mans in 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1957, and was responsible for testing and signing off on 26 Jaguar models, including the XK 140 and 150, the E-type, the Mk VII series, Mk 1 and Mk 2, Mk X, XJ6/12 and XJ-S.
Dewis drove a 190 MPH D-Type in the 1955 Le Mans, where he was a witness to the horrifying crash that killed more than 80 spectators and injured 120 more. Later that year, he and Bob Berry finished fifth with a D-Type in the Goodwood 9 Hours race.
He was behind the wheel of the V-12 powered XJ13, a prototype Le Mans car (shown at top), when a wheel disintegrated during a 1971 publicity film shoot; though the car was doing triple-digit speeds at the time, he was unharmed. His final production-car work at Jaguar was on the XJ6/XJ12 of 1986, commonly referred to by its in-house code of XJ40. Since his retirement in 1985, he has traveled the world as a goodwill ambassador for the marque.