In the April issue of Motor Sport, Simon Taylor sat down for lunch with Norman Dewis, Jaguar’s long-serving test driver.
Norman talked about his experience at Jabbeke in Belgium in 1953, where the local authorities used to close a section of road for use in speed trials. After he broke the production car record with an astonishing 172.4mph in an XK120, the road was closed for further testing. With crowds lining the barriers, the risk was too great; but that also meant that Jaguar and Norman Dewis’s record stood for 60 years.
A few days ago, Jaguar went back with Norman and Andy Wallace, who won Le Mans in 1988 driving an XJR-9. Using less than half the length of road than Jag had at its disposal in ’53, Wallace managed to hit 179mph. “The car was still accelerating toward its top speed when I had to brake.” Brave stuff on a public road.