Norman Dewis tribute display wows crowds at NEC Classic Motor Show

The annual Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show with Discovery 2019 saw the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club put on a display to celebrate Norman Dewis OBE and his time at Jaguar. This allowed the Club, with the assistance of Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, to put on one of the most significant display of cars at the event.

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Once again, Jaguar Enthusiasts flocked to Birmingham’s NEC to join the over 71,000 attendees in the 35thanniversary year of the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show with Discovery. The show is the grand finale not only for the classic motoring season, but also for the club’s raffle car with the winner finally being announced on the afternoon of the show’s final day.

Tradition dictates that we draw the winning ticket for our raffle car on the Sunday of the Classic Motor Show and we were privileged to welcome Michael Quinn, Sir William Lyons’ grandson onto our stand to pull the winning ticket. After a compelling interview with Michael Quinn about his family history’s firm links with the founder of Jaguar, the winning ticket was drawn and the winner was contacted. To say that the person was shocked is something of an understatement and the lucky lady was interviewed live on the phone in front of the assembled show audience. The winning ticket number is 21773 and was purchased by Clara Ricketts at a classic car show near Shoreham on Sea earlier this year.

Show Director Lee Masters said: “We are delighted to have welcomed so many enthusiasts and those in the industry to the show this year, especially in the current climate. Huge thanks as always to the motoring clubs who all put on tremendous displays, all our partners and exhibitors, and our amazing guests who brought the house down on the Live Stage."

Wayne Scott And Rob Jenner

Live stage appearance with Mike Brewer

Wheeler Dealers’ Mike Brewer hosted a wealth of motoring talent on the Discovery Live Stage with Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars’ Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland, and the Goblin Works Garage team Jimmy De Ville, Helen Stanley and Ant Partridge appearing over the weekend. They were joined by BTTC driver Jason Plato and Shed and Buried star Henry Cole as well as fantastic car parades and the three-day restoration of a Jaguar E-Type by the Practical Classics Magazine team.

The highlight for us on the live stage however, was the feature interview session that Wheeler Dealers’ Mike Brewer presented with our very own club PR, Wayne Scott and former chairman Rob Jenner. The live stage enjoyed a 30-minute Q&A on the life and times of Norman Dewis, sharing the stories of his incredible life and career as well as paying tribute to him as a supporter of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club. The live stage tribute culminated in a one minute long round of applause in Norman’s honour after sharing the significant stories around the four Norman Dewis tribute cars on our club stand.

E Type

Elsewhere during the show...

Our club partners, Silverstone Auctions’ two-day sale saw some record-breaking results with the ex-works 1955 ‘Le Mans’ Triumph TR2 selling for £258,750, while the 2,000-mile Jaguar XJ220 sold for £362,812, both including premium.

Friday evening at the show saw representatives of the JEC attend the annual Classic and Sportscar Awards, hosted by Simon Taylor where the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club were commended for their contribution to charity through activities around the F Type raffle car.

Also on the live stage, the Practical Classic team were working on an ambitious 'liv e' rebuild of a Jaguar E Type.

Over the years, the Practical Classics Practical Challenge has seen some fantastic restorations in just three days. This year marked their most ambitious yet, as the live stage team attempted to rebuild a Jaguar E Type live in just three days.

The owner Andy Waters told the show: “I’ve owned the Jaguar for twelve years now since I rescued the car after it was burned out in the USA. As my business has grown, the car has sat on a dolly in the corner, gradually gathering a thick layer of dust.

Upon arrival at the show, the bodywork had been done and painted. The V12 engine has been stripped and reassembled in the workshop. New 9:1 pistons, liners, polished crankshaft, refurbished cylinder heads and a whole host of soda blasted, painted and lacquered parts are all ready to go together. The team have had to undertake a huge mission to gather together a whole host of missing parts. Things like dash clocks, lights, door handles and fittings and fixtures.

Over the course of the weekend, fans looked on as the E Type gradually took shape. Sadly, though the efforts of the team were not enough to see the car driver off the stage as part of the grand finale as their work had been thwarted by a number of custom set ups required for the non-standard injection system.

This year’s show theme had been embraced by the 300 motoring clubs in attendance with many cars featuring on their own ‘Top Trumps’ card.

For the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, it was a chance to pay tribute to one of the heroes of Jaguar’s history, Norman Dewis OBE.

The stand featured a cardboard cut-out of Norman presiding over the unique Jaguar XJ13 which was mounted atop a rotating turntable to give the flocks of visitors the best chance to appreciate the car.

You can read more about the cars in detail below or watch our video tour here:

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 it was an unmissable opportunity to honour his memory at the show.

The 2020 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, will take place from 13-15 November. For more information including when tickets go on sale, visit

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The cars in detail

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, assembled a line-up of four cars that represented key moments in Norman’s career.

Jaguar C Type – NDU289

The C-Type brought Jaguar its first victory in the Le Mans 24-hour race and was one of the first models that Norman Dewis developed during his career. This C-type is one of the later production cars, and unlike the 1953 Works cars it was still fitted with SU carburettors and drum brakes. It was bought by the Italian driver Mario Tadini who entered it in the 1953 Mille Miglia, but retired.

Using the XK120’s proven engine, transmission and front suspension, the C Type was built with a more rigid, lightweight tubular chassis and an aluminium body, designed by Malcolm Sayer, the ex-Bristol aerodynamicist. The engine was tuned to 260 bhp, the brakes were improved, and the rear suspension now used transverse torsion bars. The first cars were ready in the spring of 1951.

Dewis began developing the disc brake concept on the C Type. The technology was fitted to Stirling Moss' Jaguar C-type in the 1952 Mille Miglia, and Dewis accompanied him as a passenger. They were third overall, and 100 miles from the end, when a collision with a rock ended their race.

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.

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