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Norman Dewis 1920-2019

Legendary Jaguar test driver passes away aged 98

By Matt Bird / Monday, June 10, 2019

Stories of a death in the industry are never enjoyable to write, but are particularly galling when the subject is as universally liked as Norman Dewis. As Jaguar chief test driver for more than 30 years and a brand ambassador for many after that, Dewis’ diligent work and charming demeanour made him many friends. After an illustrious and successful career, he has died aged 98.

Having fought in WW2, Dewis worked for Humber and Armstrong Siddeley before joining Jaguar in 1952; given one of his first jobs was testing disc brakes on the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss, you get some idea of the stature of Dewis’ work. He also raced at Le Mans, set a production speed record of 172mph in 1953 and drove an E-Type overnight to Geneva for customer test drives in 1961. That barely scratches the surface of his achievements, either, when it’s considered how well sorted the ride and handling of Jaguars was in that era.

More to the point, it can be seen in the PH thread on Norman Dewis what a humble, generous and kind sort of gent he was. Tributes have been pouring in, various stories of his affable character easy to find. Whatever the situation, he made time to speak to those eager to know more about his incredible career.

Jaguar CEO Ralf Speth said: “Putting Norman’s hugely decorated career aside, his friendly nature, captivating storytelling and unbridled enthusiasm made him exactly the kind of man you couldn’t help but want to spend time with – he will be sorely missed.”

You may remember that a GoFundMe page was set up recently to give Norman some care at home in his final days. Subsequent donations will now be donated to the Hope House Hospice, as was his wish. Beyond that, little more can really be said: as a man with a significant role in some of the greatest British sports cars ever made, Dewis’ status as a legend of the industry was pretty much secured; that he was a thoroughly lovely bloke in addition only guaranteed it.

Join the discussion on Norman Dewis here.

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