Michael Dale is the retired President of Jaguar North America where he was responsible for the company’s activities in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Prior to being named President, he had been responsible for all U.S. Jaguar sales and marketing activities, including advertising and sales promotion. Michael Dale will be inducted into the British Sports Car Hall of Fame on June 2, 2017.
Michael Dale was born in Birmingham, UK in 1935. After a stint in the British military, he joined the British Motor Corporation, forerunner to British Leyland, in 1963. He became the US Sale Manager for BMC in 1966. After other varying positions within BMC and then BL, he became Vice President for sales for all British Leyland cars in the USA in 1973. In 1985 he became Senior Vice President for Jaguar Sales and Marketing in the USA. Finally, in 1990, he was named President of Jaguar Cars and Director of Jaguar Cars Ltd. He served in that position until his retirement in May of 2000.
When Jaguar E-Type production ended in 1975 British Leyland needed a new flagship. BL’s Lord Stokes had no interest in auto racing but Jaguar’s Michael Dale, then VP of Sales, enthused about racing the E-Type’s replacement, the 1976 Jaguar XJS. Knowing the potential of Tullius and his small but efficient crew, Dale struck a deal with Group 44 to run the XJS in selected IMSA races as well as a full Trans-Am program. This effort maintained the visibility of Jaguar in the sports racing scene. (Note: Bob Tullius is also being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, but more on him later.)
It is noted that Michael Dale was fond of saying, “Jaguars are about elegance; a Jaguar should make you feel elegant.” As a former RAF fighter pilot and Sports Car Club of America national champion, he obviously also understood the need for performance and credibility from the driver’s seat. It was that combination of elegance and performance that would underscore Dale’s efforts at Jaguar.
Note: This is part of an ongoing series focusing on the 23 individuals who will be inducted into the British Sports Car Hall of Fame in ceremonies on June 2nd, 2017, at the Hall of Fame in Petersburg, VA.