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Jaguar Design Guru Ian Callum Stepping Down after 20 Years

Under his guidance, Jaguar managed to churn out some of the most breathtaking production models seen in their various segments today.

Dan Heyman By: Dan Heyman June 4, 2019

The Jaguar F-Type. The Aston Martin DB7. The Jaguar XK. What do these all have in common, other than being two-door sports cars from Britain? Well, they were all penned by the same man: Ian Callum. Under his guidance, Jaguar has managed to churn out some of the most breathtaking production models seen in their various segments today, which is saying a lot for a brand that was so steeped in lore that it was almost bogged down by it.

Think quad headlamps on the XJ, which had been around for what may as well have been 100 years. It was Callum who took that model, said “to hell with the traditionalists” and brought us the current, slant-nosed, low-roofed and low-riding XJ, to this day possibly the best-looking car in the full-size luxury sedan segment.

He did concept cars, too; remember the C-X75 that appeared in the latest Bond film, Spectre? Yep; that was Callum, too. He was around when Jaguar, Aston, Volvo, Mazda and numerous others all served under the Ford banner so at one minute, he would be designing the nifty little Ford Ka and the next, the Volvo C70. For a time, it seemed like every new car that came out was a Callum.

He was a true gentleman, too; back when a wet-nosed junior journo named Dan Heyman covered one of his first big international auto shows, Callum had no problem granting him a full interview, never making him feel like he was a junior, or that he shouldn’t be rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

And now, it’s all coming to a close as Callum announced today that after 20 years of service, he is stepping down from the position and is to be replaced by current Jaguar Creative Design Director, Julian Thompson.

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Callum, it should come as no surprise, was genial in his departure statement released by Jaguar.

“I have had an incredible career at Jaguar,” he said. “One of my biggest highlights was creating XF because it represented the beginning of a new era moving Jaguar from tradition to contemporary design – it was a significant turning point in our story. Designing the F-TYPE was a dream come true for me, and I-Pace was an opportunity to create something hugely innovative that would really challenge the perception of Jaguar – and its success is testament to just how far the brand has come. I came into this role with a mission to take Jaguar design back to where it deserved to be. It has taken 20 years, but I believe I have achieved what I set out to do. Given the strength of both our products and the design team I feel that now is the right time to move on, both personally and professionally, and explore other design projects. Designing Jaguar cars was a lifelong dream for me and I’m delighted to remain involved as a consultant for the brand. I have worked closely with Julian Thomson for 18 years – he is a hugely talented designer and absolutely the right person to lead Jaguar design into its next chapter.”

If anything, Callum is leaving on a high note, having just completed work on the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace, a vehicle that’s won numerous awards for its design.