Legendary designer Ian Callum‘s name is synonymous with Jaguar cars of the last two decades. After working for TWR, where he was involved in the birth of the Aston Martin DB7, he joined Jaguar in 1999 and has overseen a design revolution that resulted in the latest XK, the stunning Jaguar F-Type and the iconic C-X75 concept, as seen in the latest Bond movie Spectre.
During the nineties the XJ40 was dramatically facelifted in the form of x300 and ultimately x308. The move to a more nostalgic and traditional detailing was very successful.
The “chocolate box” headlamps were replaced with the quad headlamps flanked by more traditional fluted forms on the bonnet. The back was made squarer and taller to give better aero and a bigger boot. The fuselage however was fundamentally XJ40. But it all still worked because the proportions were still exciting and unique.
I started as Design Director at Jaguar about this time. Finally, as though fate had played its part, I was going to be in charge of my favourite marque.
On my first day I was shown the “next” XJ. Full of anticipation I realised it was time for the XJ to change. It couldn’t, surely, look like the previous 30 years’ models. What I did know was that it’d need to be modern whilst retaining a sleek Jaguar silhouette. I was shown X350.
It looked familiar. Too familiar. The styling details were traditional, similar to the previous model. It was a beautiful car, but of another era. However, the one thing that had changed was the silhouette. The one thing that Jaguar could always be known for, was gone! The exciting sleek proportions. In an attempt to create a more particle car the roof was higher and the boot was bigger. I was disappointed. The number one reason to buy a Jaguar had gone. Proportion and stance. The next generation was down to me and my team. Known as project X350, the attributes and dimensions were set up by comparison to our competition.
The XJ was to became a direct competitor to the large cars of the German brands. Admittedly not how I saw Jaguar to be, as the original Jaguar design values were under threat. However, we set about to create a car of great proportions and stance and yet within a conventional set of dimensions. A challenge to say the least. My reference to the uniqueness of the original XJ was constant in my dialogue and presentations.
Today’s XJ was created with strong unique window graphics to emphasise its length while “sportiness” was brought back by creating a coupe profile. The front grill, like that of the XF, was directly influenced by the original XJ. The “frowning” headlamps still contain the “quad” lights but in a contemporary form. We worked every millimetre to create exciting lines and sleek form.
I am convinced we have created a very special car, now four years into its life cycle, that holds the visual excitement if that original ’68 car. No, it’s not the same, and it shouldn’t be. It is of its time and looks different from “the others”. The Jaguar values are still there.