the person who revived Jaguar design

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Painstaking consideration to proportion and kind are key elements of Callum’s designs
Ian Callum steps down as Jaguar’s director of design this month after twenty years. We meet the man whose daring imaginative and prescient revolutionised Jaguar – and saved Aston Martin

Ian Callum, Jaguar design director, is taking the remainder of the afternoon off. It’s a spur of the second choice. The unique schedule was for Callum, the person who discovered a brand new path for Jaguar within the early 2000s when it wanted one most – and adopted that by creating an entire new-look mannequin vary – to affix us at 11am for a photograph session on the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Fen Finish take a look at monitor. He has left an intense and considerably argumentative engineering assembly to do it and is scheduled to return to a different one very like it. 

However because the cameras click on, one thing else has began taking place. The telephone in Callum’s pocket has began chiming and vibrating like an unquenchable alarm clock. My very own is doing the identical. It’s clear that newswires are instantly alive with one thing Callum, 64, has been mulling for a yr, determined final Christmas and has stored to himself for 5 months: that he plans to go away the design director’s job on the finish of June, to do his personal factor. 

Ian Callum leaves Jaguar after 20 years as design director

His alternative, because the tales scream, is to be his colleague and good friend of the previous 18 years, Julian Thomson, who till now has been Jaguar’s inventive design director and superior ideas man, somebody simply as nicely steeped in Jaguar’s historical past and values as Callum himself. 

Now it may be instructed: Autocar has been aware about the bombshell information for just a few weeks. With the nod from Jaguar insiders, we’ve got organized to Ian Callum with the 11 seminal Jaguar manufacturing automobiles produced by Callum and his professional groups since he arrived on the Whitley design HQ 20 years in the past. 

By bizarre coincidence, the massive information has damaged whereas Callum is standing with the 11 automobiles and a bit knot of JLR and Autocar personnel in the midst of one of many disused taxiways on the Fen Finish proving floor, not removed from Coventry. The plan is to the automobiles and pump Callum about his profession and his automobiles. Not ‘his’ automobiles, he’s immediately eager to remind us. Lest we neglect it, creating nice automobiles is a group effort. 

Callum will stroll away from his design director’s job on the finish of this month, annoyingly near the opening of a a lot anticipated new advanced of design studios, though he will probably be an honoured visitor on the opening. On the invitation of JLR boss Ralf Speth, and naturally of Thomson, Callum is staying on as a design marketing consultant. 

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There will probably be far more moreover. Callum has his eye firmly mounted on getting again to day-long creativity (“I need to do what you lot do all day,” he instructed his 500-strong design group, when breaking information of his departure) and dealing in additional design avenues than automobiles: maybe watches, maybe boats, maybe travel-ware. He foresees a small design enterprise comprising half a dozen like-minded individuals, primarily based within the Midlands as a result of it’s the place within the UK the place “yow will discover individuals who can do something”. 

Any automobiles this enterprise produces are more likely to be customized creations for people, just like the ‘enhanced’ Jaguar Mk2 he created with Basic Motor Automobiles 4 years in the past. He goals of creating a chopped XJ coupé from an aluminium-bodied X350-series XJ saloon, reckoning it might match the fantastic thing about the mildly customised 1970s XJC he already owns. 

Ian Callum’s Jaguar Mark 2 pushed – image particular

Callum legends abound. One is that he first grew to become aware of Jaguars when taken by his grandfather to stare at an E-Sort within the window of the marque’s Glasgow dealership. One other is that he so set his coronary heart on creating Jaguars as a profession in these early years that he wrote to the corporate for recommendation – and might nonetheless produce a sheaf of submitted sketches he despatched to Jaguar’s legendary chief engineer, Invoice Heynes, along with a heat however formal reply from Heynes on official notepaper suggesting he research design to attain his goals. 

He did that, first in Scotland, then Coventry College, then as a postgraduate pupil at London’s Royal Faculty of Artwork – and subsequently labored his first 11 years for Ford. He then served one other 9 within the far much less company however extra pressurised setting of the late Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR motorsport and automobile creation enterprise, the place his biggest of many achievements was the seminal Aston Martin DB7, the automobile that really saved Aston Martin. Whereas that automobile was changing into by far the biggest-selling and longest-lasting Aston in historical past, he performed a number one hand within the creation of its DB9 alternative and the smaller V8 Vantage as nicely, which quickly set their very own information. 

When in 1999 Jaguar design director Geoff Lawson died instantly, Callum was by any judgement the perfect and most blatant alternative and he took the job with Walkinshaw’s prepared blessing. 

Not that this was a case of the designer getting the dream job and dwelling fortunately ever after. Ford was Jaguar’s proprietor, the UK administration it had put in gained no prizes for creativity – however anticipated to have a loud voice on design path – and there have been some oddities to be handled, such because the Mondeo-based X-Sort and the same-again (however expensively re-engineered in an ill-proportioned aluminium physique) XJ saloon, for 2. 

Callum knew from the start that Jaguar wanted a recent look that carried all of the grace and tempo of Sir William Lyons’ originals, however wanted a contemporary automobile that might in impact soar two generations directly. The aluminium XK coupé was his first automobile, readied for the 2004 Frankfurt present, however the huge leap got here with the new-look XF saloon, which actually confirmed the place Jaguars would head, and to which each succeeding Callum Jaguar remains to be associated. 

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The automobiles that adopted have been replacements for current fashions and fully new creations. Callum’s realisation that, on this maelstrom of automobile creativity, he had created a whole mannequin vary (XF, XE, XJ, XK), coined an necessary choose few (F-Sort, F-Tempo, E-Tempo), produced a supercar as an idea that ought to have been made (C-X75) and crushed each German rival to the launch of a premium electrical automobile (I-Tempo) was a giant purpose for his choice to maneuver on. 

He says: “We instantly realised, actually on the day we’d chosen to launch I-Tempo, that it was precisely 50 years since I’d acquired that letter from Invoice Heynes. That was a little bit of a catalyst. I form of knew that this might be my final Jaguar.” 

Callum’s reign has spanned the very important years which have taken designers from being the considerably misunderstood servants of engineers, deployed within the 1950s to the 1970s to “put one thing over this”, to immediately’s totally fledged inventive drive that lives the place all of the best concepts are born. “We’ve seen such dramatic modifications,” Callum says. “The automobile creation course of is so advanced now that I don’t imagine anybody within the firm understands the entire course of – besides the designers.” 

The photograph shoot finishes. I watch as Callum thumbs by many dozens of e mail messages which have arrived, congratulating him on a stellar profession. For somebody who meets individuals for a dwelling, and has taken himself by willpower stuttering over a 90-second public remark to confidently delivering a riveting, 45-minute deal with, Callum remains to be disarmingly shocked in any respect the eye.

 

“I’m not sentimental,” he says. “I’ve had many incredible experiences and had many superb alternatives. I’d wish to have had an opportunity at a small Jaguar – possibly one thing Fiesta-sized – however the enterprise case was by no means there. My largest moments have been the launch of the Aston DB7, as a result of it was my first actually necessary automobile, and the Jaguar XF, as a result of it led to a lot extra. I remorse we didn’t put the C-X75 into manufacturing, and all the time will, however I had the massive pleasure of launching the F-Sort and the I-Tempo. Automobiles like that train you all the time to look ahead. That’s what’s necessary.”

Callum’s Jaguar stars

2006 – XK

“The precedence was to get the nostril up and provides the automobile tighter strains, so I made a decision to offer it edges. This upset the administration, and the US sellers actually loathed it, although some have apologised since. It was my first Jag and I used to be nervous, particularly since I used to be being watched by the Jaguar govt committee. But it surely labored.”

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2008 XF

Callum’s nice leap ahead, an S-Sort alternative to banish the over-use of design units from the Lyons period. It aimed to leap two generations directly and maintained a sporting character, (“We did that with the coupé form, as a result of we couldn’t do it with top.”) Much less flamboyant second version (2015) is just not as a lot liked as the unique.

2010 XJ

The earlier aluminium XJ had been too tame, so Callum gave the mannequin what he referred to as “a rebellious edge”. The vertical tail-lights have been most likely its most controversial characteristic however many different sides of design (reminiscent of the larger grille) have been additional developed. The automobile had an attractive inside, with a fascia gadget referred to as the Riva Hoop.

2012 C-X75

Born as “a rolling murals” for Jaguar’s 75th anniversary, this automobile was proposed with hybrid turbine energy however was quickly outfitted with a high-output 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and electrical motors. It was liked, manufacturing was mooted, however no enterprise case could possibly be discovered. A handful have been constructed for the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre.

2014 F-Sort

When Tata purchased Jaguar, chairman Ratan Tata preferred the thought of a sports activities automobile and shortly the two-seater appeared. The convertible got here first as a result of advertising and marketing stated it’d be the larger vendor. However when the coupé appeared a yr later, that proved the extra fashionable. Callum now needs he might have moved the engine decrease and additional again.

2015 XE

Good-looking small Jaguar constructed to combat the BMW three Sequence however not very profitable regardless of its spectacular mechanical spec and tremendous proportions. Criticised for having a ‘cookie cutter’ method to styling, in contrast with the XF, an method Callum now regards as a mistake. Newest XE appears to be like extra distinctive.

2016 F-Tempo

Well-known as “the automobile I assumed I’d by no means construct” – as a result of it was an SUV – Callum’s F-Tempo proved troublesome to fashion whereas together with daring surfaces, haunches and different Jaguar units. However after many iterations, it labored. “Some say we might have launched this earlier, however I imagine we needed to construct the model first, with fashions like F-Sort,” says Callum.

2018 I-Tempo

The automobile Callum calls “the particular one”, with its raised but swish strains and distinctive styling (“not simply because it’s totally electrical; I detest that method”). It is a becoming place to finish his Jaguar profession, he believes, as a result of it was not almost so constrained by standard elements as different designs and it welcomes a brand new period. 

Learn extra

Callum departs Jaguar: The key sports activities automobile they by no means made

Used automobile shopping for information: Aston Martin DB7

Jaguar C-X75 2013-2015 evaluation​


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