In Her Majesty’ New Year Honours List, 94 year old Dewis received the award of an Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Dewis was involved in the development of 25 significant Jaguar cars and is regarded as Britain’s greatest test driver.
Among the cars he developed were the multiple Le Mans-winning C-type and D-type race cars, the XK 140 and 150 sports cars, the classic Mk II saloons, plus the Mk VII and Mk VIIM models, the legendary E-type, including the Lightweight E-type, the XJ13 mid-engined prototype, the XJ saloons, the XJ-S and the ‘XJ40’ models.
He also played a vital role in the development of the revolutionary Dunlop disc brake.
During his career, Dewis completed over a million test miles at an average speed of 100 mph plus (160.94 km/h plus) and survived high speed crashes without ever breaking a single bone and this was the pre-seatbelt era.
Apart from test driving Dewis also earned quite a reputation in motorsport and speed record attempts.
He was co-driver to the British racing hero Sir Stirling Moss in a C-type in the 1952 Mille Miglia and he drove a works D-type in the1955 Le Mans 24 hour race.
He was also a regular competitor in the famous Goodwood Nine Hour races in the 1950’s.
In 1953 he set a production car speed record of 172.412 mph (277.470 km/h) driving a modified Jaguar XK 120 on a closed section of the Jabbeke highway in Belgium.
Of all the cars he was involved with Dewis considers the D-Type to be the best.
“I got that car up to 192 mph (309 km/h) on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans,” he says. “Well I had to pass Kling in the Mercedes.”
Mike Hawthorn, Jaguars star driver at the time, had such faith in Dewis that when he was asked to attend a test session and saw that Dewis was already there, asked the team manager, “Why am I here? If Norman’s satisfied with it, I’m satisfied.”
During 2014, he spearheaded Jaguar’s 60th anniversary celebrations for the race-winning D-type.
At the 2014 Goodwood Revival, Dewis drove one of the D-types, his speed illustrating that he hadn’t lost his touch behind the wheel.
Dewis is working with Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations’ newly established Jaguar Heritage Business organization to help showcase its capabilities and vision.
He is supporting the opening of the new Heritage workshop at Browns Lane, the extensive classic Jaguar parts offering, the launch of the new Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience in Warwickshire, and the brand-new Lightweight E-type,
Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations and Chairman of the Jaguar Heritage Trust, John Edwards said. “Jaguar owes a huge debt to Norman Dewis.
His incredible skills have resulted in some of the finest cars this company has ever made, whether they were designed for the road or the racing circuit.
The Norman Dewis of today is the same quietly confident and modest man of the 1950’s, he remains a world class Jaguar ambassador.
It is fantastic to see his contribution to Jaguar, and to British engineering, recognized in Her Majesty’s New Year Honours List, with the award of an OBE.”