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.
I have always loved cars: started drawing them at the age of three, decided I would be a car designer by the age of five. At the age of seven I saw my first E-Type. It was in Rossleighs dealership in Edinburgh. Wow, the future had arrived!
However it wasn’t until I saw the first XJ in 1968 that I really stared to understand the power of great design in a car. No, it wasn’t a space ship like the E-Type, but there was something magical about it. Those large wheels. Well, tyres actually. These beautifully placed wheel arches ate up all the space of the front and rear wings. The sheet metal above the front wheel was slim, the bonnet low and the cabin sat within the body. The fuselage was in perfect scale to the window graphic and the rear quarter-lite cantilevered beyond the door – just like the Mk2, except more modern now. The rear haunch swept up subtly from the waist line and dropped elegantly through the silhouette of the boot. This was the car that taught me so much about design, about proportions and about Jaguar. I knew at this point I not only wanted to design cars, but to design Jaguars. This car was, in my eyes, perfect.
This XJ was modified twice after in an attempt to accommodate legislation, mainly American, and to give it more head room in the rear. For me the Series 2 and Series 3 were never as beautiful as the original with its deep grille sunken to the body. Another subtle detail of modern design that went unnoticed by many. But I got it and it became the starting point of the new Jaguar face that we have now created, appearing first on the XF.
That original shape was ultimately replaced by the XJ40 (code name). A car that resembled the previous car clearly and quite successfully. With big rectangular headlamps and sharper lines it possessed a more modern style, but still kept hold of the great proportions and sleek lines. It was still a Jaguar in the truest sense. As before, it didn’t look like anything else because it didn’t follow the same rule book as the other luxury cars. Style over total practicality. Elegance over functionality. This didn’t stunt its success and during some years of its production volume reached 40k units.
Next week: Ian’s time as Design Director at Jaguar