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Jaguar's iconic designer retires: Ian Callum’s 5 greatest designs

2019-06-06 09:14

Lance Branquinho

jaguar boss retires

Image: Motorpress

In the wake of Jaguar announcing the retirement of its hugely influential design director, the motoring world has heaped rightful praise upon the work of Ian Callum. 

An affable and humble Scotsman, Callum’s lifelong ambition was to design cars for Jaguar – something he eventually did with great distinction. Despite trying times at Jaguar, during the 2000s, when budgets were strained, Callum continued to guard the aesthetic heritage and styling values of the brand.

He even managed to do the near impossible, towards the end of his career, by successfully transitioning the Jaguar nameplate to SUVs and crossovers. We pay tribute by highlighting some of his greatest designs. 

Ford RS200 (1984)

RS200

                                                                                              Image: Motorpress

Callum started his design career at Ford and designed the company’s greatest ever hot hatch: its Group B homologation RS200.

This was Callum’s first ever full design and what a debut.The RS200 featured a mid-engined layout and was powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 186kW… Which was a lot for a mid-1980s hot hatch. 

Volvo C70

volvo c90

                                                                                                 Image: Motorpress

Callum left Ford for TWR (Tom Walkinshaw racing) where he enjoyed greater freedom. One the most attractive cars of the 1990s followed, when he assisted in Volvo’s design of the C70 coupe. 

The result was a strikingly styled, but charmingly simple, Swedish interpretation of luxury two-door motoring. It was the beginning of a series of Callum designed cars which transitioned to starring in movies, with C70 being the wheels of choice for Val Kilmer in the 1996 remake of The Saint.

Aston Martin Vanquish (2001)

aston martin v12

                                                                                                    Image: Motorpress

For many a tipping point in the history of Aston Martin, the Vanquish was Callum’s opportunity to show that he could work his talents on a larger proportioned car.

With the Vanquish Callum proved that he could do something sufficient dramatic, if required. His first-generation Vanquish remains one of the most memorable James Bond movie cars of all time

Jaguar C-X75 (2010)

jaguar c-x75

                                                                                                 Image: Motorpress

The one car that Callum laments, as it never progressed beyond the concept stage. Revealed at the 2010 Paris auto show, this was to become Jaguar’s future supercar – and it certainly looked the part. Callum had foreseen a move away from conventional internal combustion engines too, with the C-X75 powered by an intriguing hybrid system.

It combined micro gas turbines, a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine and lithium-ion battery pack. The Williams F1 team was to act as an assembly partner and produce only 250 cars, but unfortunately the project never came to fruition, with only a few C-X75s built – most of which starred in the James Bond movie, Spectre. 

Jaguar F-Type (2013)

jaguar f-type r

                                                                                                      Image: Motorpress

For decades Jaguar carried the burden of expectation to produce a successor to the E-Type. Other projects enjoyed priority but Callum finally managed to revive the car which inspired him as a teenager, with the F-Type – Jaguar’s 21st century E-Type. 

A gloriously proportioned and distinctive front-engined sportscar, it pushed the boundaries of aluminium bodywork technology at the time. It is also destined to become a future classic, combining impressive presence with classic Jaguar taste levels. 

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