Dewis leads his fans to Good­wood

Nor­man Dewis OBE leads clas­sic Jaguar cav­al­cade from Lon­don to Good­wood House

Octane - - IGNITION // NEWS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy Massimo Delbò

Lon­don’s Pall Mall is the ad­dress of the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club. It is not the eas­i­est place to get to in your clas­sic car, nor is it easy to park when you do get there. De­spite this, very early on a Novem­ber morn­ing, four clas­sic Jaguars were lined up out­side, wait­ing to leave for Good­wood House, 60 miles away. And with the cars was the fa­bled Jaguar de­vel­op­ment driver Nor­man Dewis OBE, who was at the Club fol­low­ing an au­di­ence in his hon­our the night be­fore.

Since 1952, Nor­man Dewis has been the sym­bol of Jaguar, where he worked test­ing new mod­els, rac­ing them, achiev­ing speed records or mak­ing leg­endary jour­neys, such as from Coven­try to Geneva in 1961 at an av­er­age of 70mph with the brand new Jaguar E-type to get it to the mo­tor show on time. Now 95, he is still spir­ited enough to ac­cept in­vi­ta­tions of that kind, and ready to sit, once again, be­hind the wheel of his favourite cars.

He picked the only closed car to be­gin with, a 1959 3.4 sa­loon with only 18,000 miles on the clock. Es­cort­ing him across the City were one of only six XK120 Su­per Sports built, the ex-Juan Manuel Fan­gio C-type, and his favourite, a D-type. And if the jour­ney across Lon­don was a good start, the real magic of the day be­gan at Good­wood, when Dewis took the wheel of the D-type. It was amaz­ing to see how this car seems tai­lor-made to suit him, and how he im­me­di­ately felt at home in it.

‘Disc brakes were de­vel­oped by a team of four, be­tween Jaguar and Dun­lop, in three months. The first time we used them, we sim­ply hoped they worked!’ he said; then, of the world speed record XK120: ‘I hated to drive cars like that, with the Per­spex canopy so close to your face and de­form­ing your view, but it was the only way to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics. When they told me how fast I went – 172 mph! – I couldn’t be­lieve it.’

Asked about his ca­reer highs, he said: ‘I lived life to the full and sur­vived 50 years of test­ing and rac­ing when “health and safety” was far in the fu­ture. I can’t imag­ine a more im­por­tant achieve­ment.’

Above and right Clas­sic Jaguars left the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club in Pall Mall to head for Good­wood with Jaguar leg­end Nor­man Dewis OBE.

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