After twenty years as Jaguar’s Director of Design, Ian Callum will retire on July 1 this year. Callum was born in Dumfries in 1954, and fourteen years later he wrote a letter to head Jaguar engineer William Heynes, saying that he wanted to design sports cars. Heynes advised him to study and work hard.
He did both, attending several educational establishments starting with the Glasgow School of Art. By the time he got the Jaguar job in 1999, ten years after Heynes had died, he had experience first at Chrysler and later at Ford and TWR Design.
In the early days he worked on small items such as steering wheels, but by the turn of the century he had become largely responsible for the look of complete cars, many of them now regarded as triumphs of automotive design, perhaps most notably the Aston Martin DB7.
Remarkably, he is not the only car designer in his family. His younger brother Moray is the Vice President of Design for Ford, and in a previous job at Mazda led the team which created the third-generation MX-5. He and Ian are the only siblings to have jointly won the Jim Clark Memorial Award presented annually by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers. Ian is also the only person to have won it twice, having received the honour on his own several years earlier.
Ian’s replacement at Jaguar will be Julian Thomson, who has been at Jaguar for 18 years and will move up from his current role as Creative Design Director. Thomson’s previous work includes the Lotus Elise, which he has acknowledged as being inspired partly by the Ferrari Dino.
Ian’s own back catalogue is even more impressive. While he will continue to work for Jaguar in future as a design consultant, this is a good time to look back over some of the cars he has been involved with in the past.
The first complete car into which Callum can be said to have had a major input was Ford’s RS200. It owed its existence almost entirely to the sport of rallying. Ford had been very successful with rear-wheel drive Escorts in the 60s and 70s, but their front-wheel descendant could not be made competitive.
Ford abandoned that project and switched to the much more exciting RS200. Built by Reliant (which had lots of previous experience with fibreglass bodies) it had a powerful mid-mounted engine and four-wheel drive.
The motorsport versions seemed like a good bet for the then current Group B regulations, but Group B was abandoned on safety grounds before the Ford had really got going.
Ford Escort Cosworth
Ford’s rally contender of the 1990s looked like an Escort, but it was actually based on the Sierra Cosworth.
Hopes of achieving victory in the World Rally Championship came to nothing, but the car did win eight individual rounds between 1993 and 1997 before being replaced by the Focus.
Aston Martin DB7
To the reported surprise of his former colleagues, Callum moved from Ford to Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR Design, which did a lot of work on road and competition cars for major manufacturers.
During this period, Callum designed what may still, a quarter of a century later, be the car for which he is best known. This was the Aston Martin DB7, an amazingly successful car for a small (though at this point Ford-owned) company with around 7000 examples built in ten years.
The later DB9 and today’s DB11 look different in many ways, but there is still a hint of the DB7 in their shapes.
Through TWR Design, Callum led the team which created the look of the Nissan R390 supercar. This was intended for the Le Mans 24 Hour race and was reasonably successful – an R390 finished third in 1998, beaten only by two Porsche 911s, though more because of reliability than performance.
In order for the R390 to qualify for the race, a single road car had to be built. Less powerful than the competition versions, its 3.5-litre V8 engine still produced around 550bhp.
Aston Martin Vanquish
After his work on the DB7, Callum designed the larger Aston Martin Vanquish. It was launched in 2001 as a replacement for the Virage, which had first appeared as long ago as 1989.
Pierce Brosnan, as James Bond, drove a Vanquish in the 2002 film Die Another Day. The model remained in production until 2007. The second-generation Vanquish, launched five years later, was not one of Callum’s designs.
Jaguar X-Type Estate
For several years after Callum joined Jaguar, the company continued to manufacture cars designed by his predecessor, the late Geoff Lawson.
His first work to be seen by customers was the X-Type Estate, launched in 2004. Although it looked identical to the saloon if looked at head-on, this was one of several estates of the time which was thought by some people to be more attractive overall than the car it was based on.
The modern S-Type was launched in 1999, the year Callum arrived at Jaguar. He wasn’t involved in its initial design but was responsible for its facelift in 2004.
He probably didn’t enjoy this as much as other projects. The S-Type had a retro design, exactly what Callum felt Jaguar should not be doing in the 21st century.
Jaguar produced two generations of a four-door coupe called the XK. Callum was responsible for the second, aluminium-based model whose design was much sharper than the rounded shape of Geoff Lawson’s earlier all-steel car (known as the XK8).
Despite its looks, sales of the XK became unimpressive in later years, and it was discontinued in 2014 without a direct replacement.
The S-Type was replaced in 2007 by Callum’s XF, a mid-sized executive available as either a saloon or, unlike the S-Type, an estate. It was facelifted in 2011, one of the most notable changes being a simpler front headlight design.
The current XK, launched in 2015, looks similar but is technically very different, with an aluminium body of the kind which has become increasingly common in Jaguars over the years.
Although he admired the design of the original XJ saloon which first went on sale back in 1968, Callum objected to the fact that its basic shape had remained largely unaltered for half a century even though it was by now a completely different car in almost every other respect.
Under his direction, the 2009 XJ bore no visible resemblance to any of its predecessors, and at the back bore none to any other Jaguar either. The front was more recognisable similar to that of the slightly earlier XF.
There used to be many variants of the XJ, but the range was cut back in 2016 and will be discontinued entirely in July 2019.
Jaguar has created many concept cars, but the most dramatic of all was surely the C-X75. In its original form, this two-seat supercar had four electric motors and a battery recharged by two diesel-fuelled turbines which also put extra power through the drivetrain if needed.
The total output was not far short of 800bhp, and a 0-200mph time of 17.5 seconds was claimed.
Jaguar soon backed off from this specification but did announce in 2011 that it would build 250 examples of a petrol-electric hybrid version and sell them each for a high six-figure sum.
That plan was abandoned the following year, a decision Callum has described as “my greatest sadness while at Jaguar”. He has also referred to the C-X75 as “the one that got away”.
After the C-Type, D-Type and E-Type, there were decades of speculation that Jaguar would finally get round to continuing the series.
It finally happened in 2013, when the F-Type went on sale first as a convertible only but later also as a coupe. The most dramatic versions used a supercharged five-litre V8 engine, which became a lot more manageable when the Jaguar started to offer four-wheel drive.
At the other end of the scale, the F-Type became the first sports car offered with a four-cylinder engine in 2018.
The design had been previewed in a hybrid concept car called the C-X16, which was displayed in 2012 and shared some styling cues with the C-X75.
The XE is a smart-looking compact executive based on an aluminium bodyshell. When it went into production in 2015 it became the first Jaguar fitted with the new Ingenium engine range, replacing units which had been bought from Ford.
The XE platform has since been used for the larger second-generation XF and for the F-Pace which we’ll come to next.
Although it would once have been unthinkable for Jaguar to build an SUV, by the second decade of the 21th century it would have been equally unthinkable that it wouldn’t.
The inevitable premium off-roader was the F-Pace of 2016, which like similar vehicles introduced around the same time was intended to look like other models from the same manufacturer even though it had a completely different shape.
Despite Jaguar’s extremely close connection with Land Rover (the two brands are parts of the same company), the F-Pace is not, as some people at first believed, based on any Land Rover product, since it shares the same platform as the XE and XF. The Range Rover Velar is mechanically very similar, but it was launched after the F-Pace.
Jaguar followed up the F-Pace with its second SUV, the smaller E-Pace, in 2017. It is slightly less of a Jaguar than the older car, since its platform is a modified version of the one used for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.
Callum’s most recent Jaguar project to have gone on sale is the I-Pace, the company’s third SUV in as many years and the first to be available only with an all-electric drivetrain. Its platform is similar to that of the F-Pace, but the two cars looked quite different, the I-Pace being lower and notably sportier.
The I-Pace has won a great many awards. In March 2019, it was voted European Car of the Year, beating the Alpine A110 on a tie-break. It was the first Jaguar to win the award in its 55-year history.
A month later, the I-Pace was announced as being the overall World Car of the Year, and also as the winner of the Green and Design categories. This last honour seems a fitting end to Callum’s two-decade career as a Jaguar employee.
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