As a 12-year-old schoolboy in Dunfermline, Scotland, Ian Callum submitted a design for a car to Jaguar. A child though he was, he had set his sights firmly on what he wanted to do in life.
Unsuccessful in his approach at that time, he was not put off and the dream to work for the brand remained with him. When Callum stepped down from his role after 20 years as design director at Jaguar, you could say it was a dream fulfilled. Classic car fans will no doubt know him for his recent re-imagining of the iconic MkII Jaguar but, in a career that included spells at Ford, TWR Design and Jaguar, Callum has been responsible for some now legendary cars.
This stylish coupe was one of the defining cars of the mid-Nineties. While the final production car was never directly attributed to Callum, it was taken almost entirely from the 1996 ‘Lynx’ concept car penned by him when he was part of Ford’s Ghia design studio. In an era that loved small, nippy coupes, the Puma was arguably one of the best. Loosely based on the MkIV Ford Fiesta chassis, the Puma exemplified Ford’s ‘New Edge’ styling of the time. With its striking looks and sharp handling, it was an instant hit with journalists and car buyers alike. These cars have become modern classics, and as an increasingly rare sight on UK roads, values of good examples are steadily climbing.
Perhaps the design for which Ian is best known, the DB7 is widely regarded as one of the prettiest cars of the last two decades and a model that re-launched a brand. Given that Callum had always wanted to work for Jaguar, it is fitting that this was a design he had originally conceived for the replacement to the XJS. The project was shelved and would have died on the drawing board were it not for the needs of beleaguered Aston Martin, which tasked him to make the design suitable for their use instead. One elegantly applied Aston grille later, and the DB7 was born.
The first generation of these were barely disguised in their Jaguar origins, using a development of the XJS platform and engine. The design, however, was jaw-dropping and set the tone for all Aston Martins of the next two decades.
Having fulfilled his childhood dream of designing for Jaguar in 1999, Callum set about modernising the look and feel of the company that had chosen to follow a ‘retro’ groove that had failed to convince a car-buying public. More importantly, Jag was staring down the barrel of falling sales and a new direction was sorely needed. While he had some involvement on the design of the facelifted Jaguar S Type, the 2005 XK launch allowed the world to admire a Callum design in full. Bold, fresh and noticeably devoid of a wooden dashboard, the new edgier XK was a game-changer for the company’s fortunes - although critics suggested it was rather similar to the DB7. Even if that were the case, many would suggest this was no bad thing. From the XK, Callum went on to re design the XJ saloon and from there, to design every Jaguar that has left the factory since.
So, what do you think of Ian Callum’s design legacy? If you have an Ian Callum design that you love, let us know in the comments below.