Norman Dewis pic.jpeg (8181 bytes)Norman Dewis became well known as the chief test driver at Jaguar during the 50's and 60's. He joined the RAF at the beginning of the war and flew Bristol Blenhiems as a tail gunner. In 1943 he was moved to do experimental work on military aircraft including the gliders used during the Normandy landings. Many car companies switched to military production for the war and Norman became involved with Lea Francis developing new cars.

The DNC was designed and built by Norman in conjunction with fellow Lea-Francis employee Peter North-Coates, a former army captain described by Norman as "brilliant" on the chassis side. Much of the car was constructed using L-F's excellent machine shop facilities, under the benign eye of Hugh Rose. Front suspension used pre-war Morris Minor stub axles and the rear GN parts, mainly because the GN system allowed final drive ratios to be changed quickly.  While the favourite power unit of the time was JAP, Norman chose to use a Rudge engine he had kept since pre-war days. He describes it as a TT version and it had a four-valve bronze head and a speedway crankcase.

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Photo courtesy of Duncan Rabagliati

The car's professional looking aluminium body was made by Abbey Panels. It was completed in June 1950 and first run at the MIRA test ground, and its first race was at Silverstone on 8 July 1950 - when with a large bang the cylinder barrel parted company with the crankcase... The bolts Norman had used weren't strong enough. The engine was repaired and Norman continued racing it into 1951 but like the other amateur drivers, found he was up against professionally-built cars and wealthy drivers, so gave up around late August 1951. He sold the car to a speedway rider who appeared to be after the engine. 

It briefly reappeared in September '52 at Silverstone, now renamed the P.R.S. with a different engine and in the hands of J. Reason, when the above photo was taken. Its current whereabouts are unknown.

For sale...

In 1951 he moved to Jaguar as chief development engineer. Norman's first major contribution was the development of disk brakes which Jaguar pioneered with Dunlop. In order to thoroughly test the new brakes, he co-drove with Stirling Moss in a C-Type in the 1952 Mille Miglia and raced a D-Type at Le Mans in 1955 alongside Don Beauman.

Norman was responsible for 24 more Jaguar cars including the D-Type and E-Type. It was Norman who famously drove the first E-Type from Coventry to Geneva for its show debut, driving solidly through the night, only stopping once, and averaging 68 m.p.h.

Our thanks to Paul Skilleter for the text and photos for this page. You can find out more about Norman in Paul's book, Norman Dewis of Jaguar

If anyone has any more details or knows of the DNC's location please get in touch.