The Top Gear team’s highlights of 2013
Some of the best motoring memories from the last year from everyone at Top Gear HQ
Posted: 20 Dec 2013
Chris Mooney, Editor, TopGear.com
The 2013 Geneva Motor Show was an exhausting whirlwind of new cars, interviews, sore feet, reliable wireless hunting and much coffee. The same as every year, then.
My highlight came the day before, when a small group convened in Jabbeke, an unremarkable town even for Belgium, to celebrate the feat of a most remarkable man. 60 years ago, Norman Dewis hit 172 mph in a stripped-out Jaguar XK120 and broke the land speed record for a production car on public roads. This, remember, was in 1953. It had been modified in the can-do spirit of the day, with Norman sat on the floor on a cushion to save weight, and a Perspex bubble sealed over the cockpit for aerodynamics. After a civic reception in his honour, 92-year-old Norman spent hours regaling us all, and he had stories to spare: he was chief test driver and development engineer at Jaguar from 1952 to 1985, flew Bristol Blenheims in World War Two as tail gunner, and drove the very first E-Type overnight from London to the 1961 Geneva Motor Show on the order of Jag boss Sir William Lyons, stopping only once and averaging 68mph. He's driven over one million miles at over 100mph in his lifetime.
The next time I saw him he was charming my wife over dinner at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a woman 60 years his junior. What a man, and surely there are few more deserving of a gong in the New Year's Honours List.