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Gallery: the long road to the Jaguar F-Type

  • The world got that little bit louder this week, as the first Jaguar F-Types arrived on their grateful customer’s drives. It’s hard to disagree with boss Adrian Hallmark’s declaration that Jaguar just isn’t Jaguar without a properly ballsy sports car at its heart.

    Still, it's not as if Jag hasn’t built a fast car since the last E-Types rolled off the line at the now demolished Brown’s Lane plant 39 years ago...

    And Ian Callum, Jaguar’s Director of Design, has had a hand in more than one of them. So who better to bring through the concept cars and coupes, sportscars and supercars that kept the F-Type's seat warm until now?

    And pay attention TopGear.commers, as Ian has some fascinating revelations: how Jaguar and Aston Martin were working on mid-engined Boxster rivals in the early 2000s; the real story behind the Aston Martin DB7; how the XJS could have packed a mid-mounted V12; the secret, second CX-75; and the very first official picture of the XJ42, the car Jag wanted to replace the E-Type Coupe in 1996.

    Click on for Ian’s thoughts on Jaguar's road to the F-Type, and let us know your favourite in the handy space below…

    (You can follow Ian on Twitter @IanCallum) 

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  • Ian Callum on... the 1974 Jaguar E-Type Series III

    “I’ve always loved the E Type, that’s no secret. Its initial design was spectacular.

    “However as the Series I and II developed, US legislation took the purity out of it. Bigger side lamps and exposed headlamps ruined an almost perfect design, and especially around the rear. The fall of the roof or the convertible’s boot lid needed that original punctuation of the slim horizontal tail lamps. Shame.”

  • Ian Callum on… the 1975 Jaguar XJ12C

    “This was one beautiful car. The fact it had the Jaguar V12 made it all the more beautiful. Highly underestimated at the time, this is one of the Jaguar greats.

    “Shorter stance and pillar-less side glass gave it wonderful proportions — a true coupe. The only shame was the vinyl roof they all came with. That was necessary to hide some of the poor 1970s craftsmanship in the joints in the roof. Still, it’s definitely one for the Callum dream garage. Love it!”

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  • Ian Callum on… the 1975 Jaguar XKS

    “Oh my, how this car was ridiculed at launch for lacking the drama of the E-Type. Not its fault in my opinion; it was caught out by the politics of change the company was drowning in. I believe it was originally intended as a mid-engined car, hence the Ferrari-like buttresses. Imagine a V12 engine nestled in there and it all makes sense.

    “And back then, new aerodynamics theory directed a more square approach to the design language — yup, sadly air likes flat sides and square fronts.  But I am beginning to appreciate the elegance of this car. I love the single positive and beautiful waistline running through the car, for example. It’s not voluptuous. But is does have proper Jaguar design DNA.” 

  • Ian Callum on... the 1982 XJ-41 (convertible) and 1982XJ-42 (coupe)

    “The XJ41 project was meant to be the 1986 replacement for the XJS, and closer in spirit to the E-Type. It was a big car for its time, and could have been hugely significant for Jaguar, but it was canned when Ford bought the company. If it happened more spontaneously, hadn’t spent so long in development, and hadn’t gathered so much weight, I am sure it would have survived. However, Bill Haydon of Ford walked in and canned it almost immediately.

    “My late predecessor Geoff Lawson showed it to me during the early ’90s and I was impressed. It was clearly more than a little inspired by a Jaguar concept Pininfarina had shown in 1978. It was elegant and very pure. The back was a little GM-looking for my taste, but tasteful, and the interior was definitely GT rather than sports car. Those ‘finger nail’ retractable headlamps would eventually find their way onto the XJ220. Anyhow, this is where I come in to the story when my boss at the time, Tom Walkinshaw asked me to take its design and put it onto the XJS platform with a view to giving it another chance at making it into production.” 

  • Ian Callum on... the 1992 Aston Martin DB7

    “Time to put the record straight on this one. It’s well-documented that the Aston Martin ‘NPX’, or DB7, project started off as a Jaguar, named project ‘XX’.

    “The idea was to take the essence of XJ41 (a much bigger car don’t forget) and place it on an XJS platform. That was Tom Walkinshaw’s idea anyhow. The challenge was making the basic architecture (the cowl, the overhangs and so on) adopt more modern proportions. The car evolved to a point as a Jaguar, but met with resistance from the Jag’ boys. And I could understand that they felt uncomfortable about an outsider changing their design, because change it I did. Much more shape overall.

    “However before we got finished, the project was stopped by Jaguar, by which time Tom had a new customer — Aston Martin. Almost immediately the project took on a more vibrant and freer spirit.  All surfaces were changed to accommodate, albeit subtly, the Aston aura. It just got better. I still like the car very much and it led to a further Aston project for myself including the original Vanquish, the DB9 and — and this might be news to you — a mid-engined V8! That would eventually turn into the front-engined Vantage.” 

  • Ian Callum on… the 1988 XJ220

    “Shown as a concept at the 1988 Birmingham Motor show, the XJ220 was dramatic and drew some hugely welcome enthusiasm from the public.

    “The design was directed by Geoff Lawson and worked on by Keith Helfet in a skunk works project they called ‘The Saturday Club’. Walkinshaw immediately saw the opportunity and offered to build it. However the concept car really was too big, so its design was rearranged on a shorter wheelbase by Keith. This is why a V6 was adopted — the original 6.2-litre V12 was too long without moving the cabin forward.

    “To be honest, I never really liked this car. A little over bloated. Not enough tension. Walkinshaw didn't like it hugely either. That's why he did the XJR 15. Incidentally the V6 engine in the production cars would eventually have very little common with Metro 6R4 rally engine, contrary to popular belief.  Almost 100% designed by TWR. Unique. Another myth busted.” 

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  • Ian Callum on… the 1990 XJR-15

    “I think much of the world has forgotten about this car, or maybe didn't notice it much in the first place.

    “It was designed by Peter Stevens, most famous for the McLaren F1. I think it’s one of his best — I prefer it to the McLaren in an odd sort of way. It has a beautiful fuselage with real shape and tension, very dramatic proportions and is absolutely stunning to see on the road. There’s a beautiful, minimal racecar cabin sitting within the arches. Certainly worthy of a Jaguar, but Walkinshaw wanted to call it a TWR — that would have been an interesting twist of history. Still, politics demanded it be a Jag.

    “The 6-litre V12 was amazing, strapped to its own unique carbon tub, just like a race car... It was a race car, with a similar layout to the XJR9. I still have the TWR V12 badge that was originally destined for it. I have driven one of these. Not many people have!”

  • Ian Callum on… the 1996 XK8

    “This was designed under pressure from Ford to use the XJS platform, which we had proven possible at TWR with the DB7. So the X100 project was born — a beautiful GT and one of Geoff Lawson's best. I have to admit, a difficult act to follow.

    “The design was managed, I believe, by Fergus Pollock and the programme director was Bob Dover, who went on to become MD of Aston. This car captured all the essence of Jaguar style in a modern way. Although quite soft in section, it did look quite tight. My only reservation was the Ford-inspired headlamp shape with the shut lines enveloping the glass — that was very modish at the time. I remember the early cars rode a little too high due to some misinformation in the process! The interior however was too classical — the Jag boys at the time loved the ‘Spitfire wing’ dashboard.” 

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  • Ian Callum on… the 1997 Concept XK 180

    “I don’t know very much about this car other than it was based on a shortened X100 platform to make it into a pure two-seater.

    “I suspect it was a serious attempt to create the idea of ‘the next sports car’ by the design department. The racing screen was always very flattering and gave the car great proportions, but like the next attempt at an ‘F Type’ (the 2000 concept) it was never going to work in reality. I remember it had big round tail lamps in tubes at the rear and they would re-appear on the 2000 F-Type concept. It’s a good-looking car but it didn't create many waves.”

  • Ian Callum on… the 2000 F-Type concept

    “This car was well underway when I arrived at Jaguar. Although I unveiled the car at the Detroit show, I take no credit for it. The work was almost completed by Geoff Lawson before his death, and by Keith Helfet and Adam Hatton.

    “This was an exciting and promising proposal yet again to establish a Jag two-seater — the name clearly signaled its intention. But although it caught the imagination of many, including Ford boss Jacques Nasser and design boss J Mays, who both loved the car, the design was fundamentally flawed. It worried me at the unveiling, because I knew that by the time it had gone through all its legal and feasibility requirements it could look quite ordinary. 

    “We continued with the design to make it feasible, but the required windscreen height and legal bonnet height took so much away from the exciting proportions. At this point I instigated the idea of a mid engine car, the X600, which developed to a significant level of design and engineering before it was dropped so the company could pay for some new diesel engines. From a business point of view, the right thing to do, but it broke my heart. This X600 was a beautiful little car. Very similar to a Boxster in size and layout with a mid engine and very sophisticated rear suspension. Nobody outside of Jaguar has ever seen it. Sorry!

    “Although I was working on a mid-engined Aston at the same time that has also never been seen in public (it would go on to become the front-engined Vantage) there was absolutely no connection between the two. Different construction and size: the X600 a transverse V6, the Aston a north/south V8. Two gorgeous cars that never saw the light of day. Shame.”

  • Ian Callum on… the 2000 R Coupe

    “This was the first ‘public’ car developed by myself and the new team at Jaguar Design. I knew we had a while before we need to show our colours and so instigated a concept model to demonstrate our intention.

    “Working with Julian Thomson we created a modern day XJC, a car we both admired and felt was quintessentially Jaguar. The form language was tight with hard edges. Many directors felt uncomfortable with this notion as they felt Jags should be ‘soft and round’. I believed differently!

    “I’d felt that recent concept Jaguars were a little flabby, and so wanted to add some tension to the forms. Jaguars had, after all, historically often possessed sharp lines. Julian and I discussed the grille a lot and decided that the Mk II shape was the way to go just to give the car instant recognition, especially to those who doubted our future philosophy. I was uneasy about it as a face and felt it still retro, but one step at a time…

    “The interior design direction also came under a lot of scrutiny as we were under a lot of pressure to lose the wood. We decided to do the opposite, and embrace what was rightfully ours, but designed in a very modern way.  I always had J Mays’ backing on this new approach to modernising Jag. In fact this is exactly what he brought me in to do. I think he liked the car very much and supported me thoroughly on all future work, right through to the XJ, after which Ford and Jaguar parted company.

    “At this point Julian and I laid down a rule-book for future Jaguars based on the learnings from that R Coupe... interior and exterior — our Jaguar Design Philosophy. Of course it was really the same one that William Lyons had created, albeit unwritten all those years ago. But the grille had to go.” 

  • Ian Callum on… the 2010 C-X75

    “We on the design team are always looking for new ideas, either to sell to our management or to demonstrate publicly what the art of the possible is (actually, the primary purpose is to sell to our management by creating public interest).

    “Of course, we always wanted to do a supercar, but were conscious that any extreme performance would need to include sustainable technology. We discovered our research department working with turbine technology as potential generators, and decided this would be a perfect opportunity to do something different. So the C-X75 was born, a dramatic supercar with exciting and novel sustainable hybrid technology.

    “We can’t pretend the design of the car was inspired by anything other than the XJ13, a car that all Jag designers love, and one we feel shouldn’t be forgotten. However, the idea of the dramatic wheel arches stretching off the pure fuselage was really inspired by the very geometric construction of the D-Type.

    “We created two versions of the car, the one we know today, and one with a very swept turret glass house (Lancia Stratos style). The chosen one had the more authentic Jaguar window line. The rear of the car in detail and especially in plan view is something to behold! And some of this has found its way onto the F-Type. 

    “What I really like about this car is the purity of surface and sense of lightness, although it is quite large — almost as large as the XJ220. It is a lesson in stating the obvious and not trying too hard to create something different and odd — there’s too much of that at the moment. The dramatic proportions take care of its presence alone. The car has now been developed to a feasible stage, without too much change to the shape, although the roof went up 20mm. It is still beautiful and hugely desirable even in its usable form.”

  • Ian Callum on… the 2011 C X16

    We had finished the design of F Type by this point, and as you know it was designed as a convertible. There were a number of reasons for this, but mainly because, at the time, the convertible market was bigger than the coupe market. That’s not true anymore.

    Having an opportunity to show a car at the Paris Motor Show, I wanted to see what a coupe version of the car might look like, and so we created the roofed version. I was keen to protect the "drop off" of the rear profile, as on the convertible (which is something the original E Type did with such dramatic effect). Another of the features we wanted to look at was the potential of the side-opening door. A bit of fun, but unfortunately such a door would not be practical for production.

    “I absolutely love the design of this car...I hope we can build something like it one day as I am sure it would be an extremely worthy successor to the E type. To me, the E- Type coupe was so much prettier than the roadster.”

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