Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club to honour the life of Norman Dewis OBE

classic motor show jaguar enthusiasts club norman dewis
The Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club will be paying tribute to legendary Jaguar test development driver, Norman Dewis OBE at the show, with the special four-car display, supplied by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust.
The Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club will be paying tribute to legendary Jaguar test development driver, Norman Dewis OBE at the Lancaster Classic Motor Show with Discovery, held at the NEC over the weekend of 8-10th November 2019. The special four-car display, with cars supplied by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, will celebrate the story of his Jaguar career alongside an exciting new car from Ecurie Ecosse, the LM69 which represents a contemporary evocation of one the most famous cars Norman Dewis worked on.

Norman Dewis, who passed away in June 2019 at the age of 98, was a hero to Jaguar fans and a friend to many in the classic car community. He was chief test driver and development engineer for Jaguar between 1952 and 1985. That 33-year career with Jaguar saw him break the land speed record for production cars in a Jaguar XK120 on the Jabbeke Highway in Belgium in 1953 and, through his long and often dangerous hours of test driving, significantly contributed to the Le Mans wins for Jaguar in the 1950s with the C and D – Types. Norman also raced alongside the greats which included Moss, Hawthorn and Fangio behind the wheel of a works Jaguar D Type.

Norman’s development career spanned the XK140 and XK150, the Mark 2 saloons, the E Type and the first XJ saloon through to the XJ40. In 2014, the adoration of Norman’s fans was recognised on a national scale, when he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

The Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, with the support of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and Ecurie Ecosse, has assembled a line-up of four cars that represent key moments in Norman’s career. The prototype Jaguar D Type, the motor show E -Type that he famously drove through the night to Geneva, the unique XJ13 that he developed and was lucky to escape a crash in – all represent key moments in Norman’s life. Furthermore, the lasting legacy of the development work that Norman put into the XJ13 can be seen with the debut at the show of the new Ecurie Ecosse LM69, based on the original XJ13.

Furthermore, throughout the weekend, the club will share interviews and talks from club members, historians, authors and others who knew Norman, to share memories and stories of the much-admired test driver.

James Blackwell, General Manager of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club says, “Our Jaguar loving community has lost a dear friend, colleague and hero in Norman. His stories captivated and inspired us all in the club and he was wonderful company, a man who never took his foot off the gas. It felt important to everyone in the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club to say goodbye to our hero by working with our friends at Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, who have supplied this stunning line up of cars. With their help, we will transform our car club display stand at this year’s NEC Lancaster Classic Motor Show with Discovery, into a tribute to Norman’s incredible life.”

James added; “We are really excited to premiere the Ecurie Ecosse LM69 at the show, a stunning new car, guaranteed to create a stir. We felt that the LM69 is a great embodiment of the lasting legacy of Norman’s work on the XJ13 back in the 1960s.”

Norman Dewis OBE was a one of a kind. He came from an era when racing and test drivers alike were heroes. When the boundaries of technology and engineering were pushed aside and broken through, whilst wearing a shirt and tie. Norman was one of the most highly respected drivers and engineers that has ever lived, he had a special talent for assessing the handling of car and how it might be improved. He was tenacious and hard working with an enviable determination to achieve and exceed the goals that Jaguar set for him. The likes of Norman Dewis will never be seen again, so come and join the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club at the 2019 Lancaster Classic Motor Show with Discovery to celebrate the life of the friend, hero and inspiration to Jaguar fans everywhere, Norman Dewis OBE.

The cars in detail
Jaguar D Type – OVC 501.
The first car in the line-up will be Jaguar’s prototype D Type, OVC 501 from 1954. This is a truly unique car and is the factory prototype for the machine which brought Jaguar a hat-trick of victories from 1955 to 1957 thanks, in large part, to the development work and testing undertaken by Norman Dewis. Norman put the car through a rigorous programme of tests in which he found problems with the engine, gearbox and steering, all of which were quickly rectified. Capable of 190mph on the circuit, this car was also driveable on the road, which Norman did, as all the works cars were driven from Coventry to Dover, onto the ferry, and then down public roads to the Circuit De La Sarthe, Le Mans.

Jaguar E Type - 77RW
In March 1961, an icon was launched at the Geneva Motor Show, the Jaguar E Type. This car is the subject of one of Norman’s most famous stories. Norman drove it out to Geneva from Coventry, non-stop through the night, to satisfy the unprecedented demand for press test drives at the motor show launch. The epic trip, saw him embark upon a dramatic 12-hour overnight endurance run, making it in time for the launch at 10 am the next morning. 77 RW is now the oldest surviving open E-types and was the car that launched one of the symbols of 1960s motoring. Most recently, the car was the wedding transport for Pippa Middleton’s marriage to James Matthews.

Jaguar XJ13
There was only ever one XJ13 ever built and it will be on display as part of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club tribute to Norman Dewis. It was built as a contender to the likes of Ferrari and Ford at Le Mans, but never it raced. XJ13, which was Jaguar’s first mid-engined car, spent four years sitting under covers at the factory after development was canned due to a change in the motor sport regulations. However, in 1971 it was used in a film for the E Type V12 launch, shot at the MIRA test track. Naturally, Norman Dewis was at the wheel, but as he was coming in after filming, the car suffered a puncture on the banking which sent it crashing into the track’s retaining fence. It was a spectacular accident, resulting in Norman flipping end-over-end twice, rolling twice, then landing back on his wheels. Ever the professional and never strapped in, Norman managed to hide under the scuttle and turn off the ignition and as a result, was lucky to survive. He not only escaped unhurt but was also back at work the very next day! The car was later rebuilt and retired to a gentler life.

Ecurie Ecosse LM69
Fifty years on from the completion of the XJ13, the legacy of the car that Norman helped to develop lives on in the incredibly exciting new LM69, by Ecurie Ecosse. Launched in September, this will be the car’s first ever appearance at the Classic Motor Show held at the NEC Birmingham. Ecurie Ecosse will only be hand-building 25 in the West Midlands, in keeping with the FIA Homologation requirements of 1969 for running prototypes at Le Mans of over 3000cc. A quad-cam V12 is the heart of the car, designed to evoke the experience of driving at Le Mans. However, unlike the original XJ13 – this is fully road legal. Ecurie Ecosse have developed the car to a strict and unique brief which saw them adhering to the regulations of 1969, featuring only design details and technology that entered motorsport at that time. Composite materials have been used, it’s lighter than the original XJ13 and it boasts experimental aerodynamic devices, wider wheels and a multitude of engine improvements. This is a great opportunity to see this new, exciting car that celebrates the legacy of the XJ13 and the work of Norman Dewis for modern times on the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club stand.

 

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