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McLaren Automotive picks up the 2013 Dewar Trophy for the development and launch of its advanced sell-out McLaren P1™ supercar.

  • When it comes to rewarding British engineering excellence, there is no more prestigious achievement than the Dewar Trophy.

    One of the most exclusive and hard-fought awards presented to British engineering talent, the Royal Automobile Club’s Dewar Trophy is only awarded in years when the Club’s expert committee believes that there are contenders of sufficient merit.

    Competition for 2014’s award winner has been fiercer than ever – and one thing is for sure, whoever picks up the prize will join a stellar line-up of automotive greats. In the Dewar Trophy’s 108-year history there have only been 43 recipients. Previous winners have included BMC and Alec Issigonis in 1959 for the design and development of the original Mini; Cosworth in 1969 for the revolutionary DFV Formula One engine and Ford in 2012 for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Last year, the winner of the Dewar Trophy was McLaren Automotive and its P1 supercar. The design and engineering team was praised by the Royal Automobile Club’s committee for setting itself exceptionally challenging targets, using an advanced hybrid system to not only lower CO2 emissions but also boost the car’s performance. This year, competition is stronger than ever.

    Automotive engineering in the UK is experiencing a renaissance with brands such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren and Rolls-Royce all producing incredible new products – and all showcasing the innovation and technical know-how of British engineers. Plus, for every huge brand name, there are dozens of technical centres of excellence which play a crucial role in the support of the entire automotive industry – think Ricardo, Zytek and Williams Advanced Engineering. Remember too that almost the entire Formula One grid and much of the world’s motorsport expertise still calls the UK home and you begin to understand the depth and breadth of British-based engineering talent.

  • The Dewar Trophy

    The Dewar Trophy was presented to the Royal Automobile Club in 1904 by Sir Thomas Dewar, MP (later Lord Dewar), and was to be awarded at the discretion of the Club’s Technical Committee for the most meritorious performance by an automobile manufacturer in the Certified Trials held by the Club.

    The first recipients of the award in 1906 were Dennis Brothers Limited of Guildford, whose 20hp car covered a distance of 4000 miles. It was awarded 19 times during the years 1906 to 1929, there being some years when it was considered that no performance had been recorded of sufficient merit to warrant the award.

    In 1931 the award was updated to reflect 'the most outstanding technical achievement accomplished during that year under the competition rules of the Club'. No award was made under these new terms, however, until 1950 – when it went to the Rover Company for the production and performance of the Rover Gas Turbine Powered Car.

    The Trophy was not awarded again until 1957, at which time the terms were again changed to those which prevail to this day, namely: 'for an outstanding British technical achievement in the automotive field during the preceding year'.

    The award is held in as high regard today as it was in the earliest years of the 20th century, with recent winners including the JCB Dieselmax world diesel land speed record breaker, Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines for its Formula One Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) and Lotus Engineering for its Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) chassis technology.

  • Dewar

    Thomas Robert 'Tommy' Dewar was born in 1864 in Perth, Scotland. His was a relatively privileged background, due to the success of his father’s distillery, John Dewar & Sons, Ltd. He earned his education in Perth, as well as in Edinburgh and, after an unsuccessful attempt at farming, entered the family business.

    After his father's death, ‘Tommy’ worked with his brother at the head of the firm, investing his charisma and business acumen to great effect and making Dewar’s a global success. Visiting 26 countries, over the course of two years, the Dewar's brand was put on the map as one of the premiere Scotch Whiskies. Dewar himself meanwhile kept a journal of his travels which were consolidated and published in the book titled, Ramble Round the Globe, published by Chatto and Windus in 1894.

    With his travelling days behind him, Dewar entered political life; being elected as the Conservative member for Tower Hamlets in 1900. He successfully bred racehorses and sponsored prizes for association football and cycling as well as taking a keen interest in the burgeoning automotive industry and inaugurating the Dewar Trophy.

    Dewar was knighted in 1902, created a Baronet, of Homestall Manor in the Parish of East Grinstead in the County of East Sussex, in 1917 and raised to the peerage as Baron Dewar, of Homestall in the County of Sussex in 1919. He died in 1930, when the baronetcy and barony became extinct.

  • Contact Jemma Rapson

    Email jemma.rapson@royalautomobileclub.co.uk

    Telelphone 01372 229 604

  • The Dewar Trophy Technical Committee has been set up to study automotive engineering excellence and determines if the candidates meet the strict terms of reference for the awarding of the Trophy in a particular year.

    The current members of the Dewar Trophy Technical Committee are:

    John Wood MBE, Chairman (ex-Chief Executive of MIRA, past President of IMechE)

    Charles Armstrong-Wilson (freelance journalist specialising in motorsport)

    Ben Cussons (Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee)

    Karl Ludvigsen (best-selling motorsport author)

    Alec Osborn (engineering consultant, past president of IMechE)

    Pat Symonds (Marussia Formula 1 technical consultant)


  • The 2013 Dewar Trophy for outstanding British technical achievement in the automotive industry has been awarded to McLaren Automotive for its work on the conceptualisation, development and commercialisation of its pioneering sell-out McLaren P1™ supercar.

    This prestigious accolade was presented to Dan Parry-Williams of McLaren Automotive, along with members of his project team, during a ceremonial lunch at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall, London. The Dewar Trophy, which has a lineage of winners dating back to 1906, recognises the best of British engineering in the automotive industry.

    Previous winners have included Rolls-Royce in 1907 for its 40.5hp engine; Dunlop in 1957 for work developing disc brakes and modern tyres; the British Motor Corporation and Alec Issigonis for the original Mini in 1959; Jaguar in 2003 for its ground-breaking all-aluminium chassis; and the Ford Motor Company for its EcoBoost drivetrain in 2012. Awarding the 2013 trophy to the McLaren P1 team was a unanimous decision made by experts on the Dewar Technical Committee, chaired by John Wood MBE.

    The McLaren Automotive team was recognised for setting themselves very challenging and visionary targets, using an advance hybrid system to not only achieve a dramatic reduction in CO2 levels, but also to use the system to boost the performance to make the car faster. McLaren has achieved all that it set out to do with the P1, with all 375 examples of the model - set to be built at the advanced McLaren Technology Centre in Woking - already pre-sold.

    It is a remarkable example of the integration of novel and advanced systems. McLaren’s receipt of the 2013 Dewar Trophy follows the Dewar Technical Committee recognising the company’s ongoing contribution to advanced automotive construction techniques for the McLaren 12C last year, with a Special Commendation given to the McLaren Group in 2012.

  • 2013

    McLaren Automotive - development and launch of its advanced sell-out McLaren P1™ supercar


    Ford Motor Company - development of the 1.0-litre Eco-Boost engine.


    Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines - Formula One Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS)


    Group Lotus plc - development of its Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) Chassis technology as exemplified in the Lotus Evora sportscar


    The JCB Dieselmax team - development of the world diesel land speed record-breaking ‘JCB DIESELMAX’ streamliner


    Ricardo plc - work on the development of the Dual Clutch Transmission technology as exemplified by the DCT and Active 4WD for the Bugatti Veyron


    Delphi Corporation - development of their twin-floating disc ‘Maximum Torque Brake’ system


    Jaguar Cars - development of the all-aluminium body structure for the new XJ Series


    Ricardo plc - development of its I-MoGen (Intelligent Motor Generator) mild hybrid vehicle


    MIRA, the Motor Industry Research Association - development of the M-SIS, Side Impact Simulation System


    Rover Group Limited - development of the Holovision system to measure and understand the vibration behaviour and their component parts in order to improve vehicle refinement


    Lucas Girling Limited - development of anti-lock braking systems for cars, trucks and motorcycles leading to production of the low cost Stop Control System (SCS) for front wheel drive cars


    BL Technology Limited, and the Design Team led by C S King, CBE - a convincing demonstration of automobile design possibilities providing opportunities for significant energy savings as embodied in the experimental vehicle ECV3


    BL Cars Limited - efficiency in automobile design in respect of the utilisation of interior space and predicted low cost of ownership of the Austin Metro Car


    The Triplex Safety Glass Company Limited - development, manufacture and application to production automobiles of the Ten Twenty safety glass as an outstanding contribution to the safety of automobile occupants


    The Dunlop Company Limited - development of DENOVO fail-safe tyre and wheel system, as an outstanding contribution to road safety


    The British Leyland Motor Corporation (Truck and Bus Division) - design, development and construction of the Leyland National Bus which represents a radical new approach to the development of a public service vehicle incorporating maximum pay-load and security at minimal cost and maintenance


    The British Leyland Motor Corporation, coupled with the name of Mr P M Wilkes - advanced development in Automobile design as exemplified by the Range Rover


    Mr Keith Duckworth, BSc., ACGI, - design of the Ford Formula 1 engine which has retained the supremacy of British engineering in Grand Prix racing


    The Motor Industry Research Association - for carrying out research and initiating development of the load proportioning system of braking to prevent ‘jack-knifing’ of articulated vehicles


    Coventry Climax Engines Limited - for design, development and production of engines which have brought British cars to the forefront of Grand Prix racing


    British Motor Corporation and Alec Issigonis - Advanced development in automobile design, as exemplified by the Morris Mini-Minor and Austin Seven


    G A Vandervell - Design, development, production and performance of the Vanwall car


    The Dunlop Rubber Company Limited - work on disc brakes and research and development of tyres for the M G car, which secured various international speed records


    Sunbeam-Talbot Limited - Performance in 1952 International Alpine Rally


    Jaguar Cars Limited - Performance in four major international events


    The Rover Company Limited - Production and performance of the gas turbine powered car


    Miss V Cordery - Invicta chassis – 30,000 miles


    C B Wardman - Mercedes Benz heavy oil lorry. Consumption and reliability


    Violet Cordery - Invicta Car – 5,000 miles


    Rover Company Limited - 13,96h.p. car. Fifty ascents and descents of Bwlch-y-Groes- Merionethshire


    Rapson Tyre and Jack Company Limited - Rapson cord tyres – 40,000 miles trial


    Armstrong-Siddeley Motors Limited - 10,000 miles trial


    John I Thornycroft and Company Limited – ‘BT’ type lorry


    The National Benzole Company Limited - 10,000 miles trial


    The National Steam Company Limited - National coke fuel motor lorry consumption tests


    F.S. Bennett Limited - 1914 model 32.2hp Cadillac car.


    The Thomas Transmission Limited - 2,000 miles trial of a lorry and London-Edinburgh and back trial of 13.96hp car. Both fitted with Thomas Transmission


    F Edge - 59.9hp Napier. London to Edinburgh and back top-gear trial


    The Daimler Company Limited - Two sleeve-valve engines of 22.8hp and 34.4hp respectively. 132 hours’ bench test and 2,000 miles on Brooklands track


    The Anglo-American Motor Company Limited - Standardisation test of three 10hp Cadillac cars


    Rolls-Royce Limited - 40.50hp Rolls-Royce. 15,000 miles


    Dennis Bros. Limited - 20hp Dennis Car. 4,000 miles

  • How to Apply for 2015

    The Royal Automobile Club is keen to hear from potential contenders for the Dewar Trophy in 2015. The Dewar Trophy, which was first awarded in 1906, goes to an outstanding British technical achievement in the automotive field during the preceding year or one that is known to have reached a significant stage of development, application or utilisation during the year.

    For 2015, entries for the Dewar Trophy are invited in the following categories:

    • Internal combustion engine cycle efficiency improvements
    • Vehicle electronics and electric systems
    • Intelligent transport systems
    • Material developments
    • Safety and sustainability
    • Race car technology


    The Dewar Technical Sub-Committee requires properly authenticated information about British achievements in research, development, design, manufacture, utilisation or performance (or any combination of these). For nomination and submission guidelines, please email Jemma Rapson or telephone 01372 229627. 

    The recipients of the Dewar Trophy will be decided by the seven-man Dewar Technical Sub-Committee, chaired by John Wood, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club's Awards Sub-Committee, former Chief Executive of MIRA and a past President of the IMechE. The other committee members are:

    • Ben Cussons (Chairman, Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee)
    • Pat Symonds (Marussia F1 technical consultant)
    • Alec Osborn (Engineering Consultant and past President of the IMechE)
    • Charles Armstrong-Wilson (Freelance Journalist specialising in motor sport)
    • Karl Ludvigsen (Best-selling motor sport author)