There can't have been very many newsstands in Dumfries, Scotland, that were displaying copies of Hot Rod back in 1964, but somehow Ian Callum (1954-) found one. It made him an enthusiast of the '32 Ford roadster, which is not the sort of thing one expects from the current director of styling at Jaguar.
Though his family didn't own a car, magazines like Hot Rod made Callum a car enthusiast. At age 10, he wrote a note to Bill Haines, Jaguar's long-time chief engineer, and included a few of his drawings of cars. Haines wrote back and provided some advice about the right kind of education for a future car designer. Callum's life was never the same again.
It would be a long time before Callum finally found his way to Jaguar, however. After studying industrial design in Scotland and acquiring a master's degree in automotive design from the Royal College of Art, he started his design career at Ford. After years of thankless work at Ford studios in Britain, the United States, Germany, Japan and Australia, Callum moved to Turin, Italy, and became the design manager at Ghia, which then functioned as Ford's most advanced styling studio. His Zig roadster and Zag van-let concept cars were the hits of the 1990 show-car season.
Weary of corporate design, Callum left Ford in 1991 to join TWR, an outfit led by racer (and fellow Scot) Tom Walkinshaw, which developed both racing cars and production cars for a variety of clients. Callum designed the Nissan R390 GT1 in 1998, which competed at Le Mans, but he became better known for the design of the 1995 Aston Martin DB7. This car had started life as a warmed-over facelift of the Jaguar XJS, but it was pushed aside when Ford took over Jaguar because it was too heavy. Jaguar designer Geoff Lawson created the XK8 (also a modified XJS) in its stead, yet the styling of the DB7 ultimately earned wider acclaim.
Ironically, Callum took over as Jaguar's design director in 1999 when Lawson died suddenly, and he helped bring Lawson's final designs to production, notably the 2003 XJ8.
Nevertheless, Callum's most important work during this time came with the introduction of the Vanquish V12, which created a gorgeous new styling vocabulary for Aston Martin.
When Callum arrived at Jaguar 5 years ago, he was charged with evolving a new look for the company, but it has taken a while to appear, because Lawson's retro-theme cars were just going into production. The future that Callum envisions for Jaguar is best seen in the R-D6 concept unveiled in Detroit this year, a high-speed four-door coupe with a diesel engine.
When I photographed Ian Callum, it was clear that he was a bit more than the usual college-educated car designer. He's a real car enthusiast who likes to drive fast and talk wildly about cars over a few beers. Apparently his brother Morey, a designer for Mazda, is much the same. Who would have guessed that there would ever be a Scottish car designer, much less two of them?