Photo credit: Jaguar design team. Ian Callum centre.
Way back in 1968, a precocious 14-year-old Scottish schoolboy wrote to Jaguar hoping to land a job as a car designer. He enclosed some of his drawings, the latest in a long line of the car sketches he had been enthusiastically penning since the age of eight. He received a gracious reply from the company vice-chairman, which he still treasures.
So where is he now, young Master I.S Callum from Dumfries? Better known these days as Ian Callum, he is now Jaguar’s design director, responsible for the much-admired current style of the company’s car range, including the latest XE. Design talent obviously runs in the family, as his younger brother Moray Callum is also an automotive design director, working at Ford in North America.
I caught up with Ian Callum in London this week, and quizzed him about the direction of Jaguar design, and his views on future trends in car design generally. Although now a very senior motor industry figure, he still fizzes with the same kind of enthusiasm that distinguished him as an eager teenager in the late ‘60s, desperate to start a career with his favourite car maker.
I was longing to know whether there will ever be another Jaguar like the iconic E-Type of the 1960s and ‘70s? It seems that today’s tough safety and emissions regulations for cars pose difficulties.
“Given the current set of constraints, it is unlikely,” says Callum. “But in the future, with electric cars? Maybe.”
So what’s coming next for the look of yet-to-be-seen new Jaguars?
“I can’t tell you,” he apologised, “but I can say that there is going to be a slight change of direction coming up, moving away into something of a new generation for Jaguar. We will also have a more eclectic mix of cars.” It is an open secret that Jaguar has an SUV in the pipeline, taller and more rugged than any of its current cars. “Whatever happens, Jaguar will always be a luxury and performance brand,” he promises.
Any clues about what we might see in the years ahead?
“Touchscreens will become the norm, and separation between the passenger’s view and the driver’s view will become the norm too. Voice control will become almost the standard thing for cars. And of course we’re all working on autonomous cars.”
Which car is he most proud of having been responsible for in his career?
The response is instant. “The F-Type,” he says, and who could disagree with that.
So what does Jaguar’s design chief rate as the most beautiful car ever made?
“The 250 Short Wheelbase Ferrari by Scaglietti,” says Callum.
And the least beautiful?
Another Italian one, perhaps surprisingly. “The Alfa Romeo SZ by Zagato , that’s an ugly looking car.”