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The greatest hits of Ian Callum

  1. Jaguar C-X75

    This week, Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum received the ‘Minerva Medal’. Awarded by the Chartered Society of Designers, it’s their highest accolade, and only given to recognise lifetime achievement.

    Callum is the first car designer to pick up the prize since supercar scribbler Giorgetto Giugiaro, who received the award in 1981. And so in celebration of the Scottish designer’s rich body of work, we’ve gathered together our favourite Callum designs…


    Callum’s body of work is comprehensive, and his greatest hits plentiful enough for nearly everything he’s designed to be someone’s favourite. We’d wager most votes will go for this, though, Jaguar’s beautiful hybrid supercar concept.

    With 900bhp, development from the Williams Formula One team and styling that’s a world away from the XJ220 it effectively supercedes, it would have put up a pretty strong fight against the LaFerrari, 918 and P1 if Jaguar hadn’t pulled the plug on it. Bah humbug.

  2. Nissan R390

    Some of our more junior readers may know only of the GT-R as Nissan’s take on the supercar. Well, it’s made to look a complete pussycat by the R390. Callum helped pen Nissan’s top-class Le Mans competitor, which spawned a pair of road-going hypercars before that was even a genre.

    With its twin-turbo 3.5-litre V8 engine serving up around 640bhp, it can complete 0-100mph in 6.5sec on its journey to a top speed beyond 220mph, making this much faster than even the Nismo version of the GT-R. And few will disagree the R390 is prettier, we imagine.

  3. Ford RS200

    Another super looking car from competition, Ford’s bonkers Group B rally entrant was homologated by 200 road-going RS200s. All were four-wheel driven and mid-engined; the rally car produced up to 450bhp, while the showroom iteration was a little tamed, with 250bhp.

    The RS200 lived a short motorsport career, with Group B regulations scrapped a year after its debut. But its punchy design has ensured its status as a legend.

  4. Ford Escort Cosworth

    Callum’s stint at Ford also saw the meek Escort family car turned into one of the most iconic hot hatchbacks of all time. Like it or not, there’s no mistaking that humongous whale-tail wing and those bonnet vents.

    While its mix of turbocharged power and four-wheel drive made it one of the fastest point-to-point cars new, its 217bhp is little more than you’ll find in Ford’s uppermost Fiesta ST Mountune nowadays. The Escort beats it hands down for muscle and presence, though.

  5. Aston Martin DB7

    Probably the most famous line on Ian Callum’s CV, and a car that’s topped numerous ‘most beautiful car in the world’ polls. Look at a DB9 or V8 Vantage in side profile and the DB7’s influence on Aston’s current design language is clear to see, even if its performance and dynamics lagged considerably behind its (then) modern-day equivalents.

  6. Aston Martin DB9

    Speak of the devil: the DB9 shares stylistic links with the DB7 because it also came from the end of Callum’s pen. Introduced over ten years ago, and with a few more years to run before it’s replaced, it’s fine evidence of a good design being timeless. Facelifts since its 2004 introduction have all been pretty minor, and the Virage and mk2 Vanquish have both shamelessly riffed off its looks.

  7. Aston Martin Vanquish

    You can keep your DB7 and DB9, though. For us, this is Callum’s finest work for Aston Martin, the first generation Vanquish treading the line between beautiful and brutal without straying a millimetre. Just a shame that one of the jerkiest paddleshift gearboxes of all time took the shine of an otherwise wondrous car.

  8. Jaguar X-Type Estate

    Ian Callum may be well known as an Aston designer, but he’s also put in plenty of shifts at Jaguar, for whom he is currently ‘director of design’. The list of cars he’s designed for Jag is too exhaustive to list here in full, but we thought we’d start where you’d least expect us to.

    The X-Type proved to be too retro for its own good, struggling for critical claim as it tried to shrink XJ styling over a front-drive platform not unlike the Ford Mondeo’s. The X-Type itself wasn’t Callum’s work, but he was tasked to turn it into a practical estate, and is credited for the rear styling you see above. And it has fans in high places: the Queen of England has frequently been seen driving an X-Type Estate. Really.

  9. Jaguar XK

    As synonymous with Callum as the DB7, the XK (and its pokier XKR sibling) launched in 2006 with its seamless design only blemished by a cackhanded radio aerial; it looked borrowed from a Ford Granada and no doubt the result of Jag’s pre-Tata penny pinching.

    It’s recently been retired as the F-Type takes on the role of Jaguar’s premier league sports car, but not without an abundance of special editions beforehand, including the XKR-S (above) and the XKR-S GT, which has aero addenda aplenty.

  10. Jaguar RD6

    Jaguar has produced numerous concept cars during the Callum design era, many of them thinly disguised precursors to production cars. We’re very sad to report the same hasn’t proved true for the RD6, though, a wonderfully quirky hatchback with Mazda RX-8 style suicide doors. We’d applaud Jaguar greatly if its rumoured BMW 1-Series rival ends up looking half as interesting as this.

  11. Ford Puma


    Ford hit a real sweet spot in the late 1990s, with just about everything it produced driving deftly, even the Escort-replacing Focus. Perhaps its greatest hit of the period is the Puma.

    Not only supremely agile to drive and possessing a Yamaha engine that relished a good revving, it looked cool enough for Ford to superimpose Steve McQueen behind the wheel for a TV ad and get away with it. And it can thank Ian Callum’s penmanship for that.

  12. Volvo C70

    Another mainstream hit with Ian Callum putting in design shifts. The C70 is quite probably Volvo’s best looking car of the modern era, and if you assess its side profile against an XK or DB7, it’s recognisably Callum-influenced from its window shape. It also spawned a convertible version, but for the hallmark C70 look you need an early coupe in signature ‘saffron pearl metallic’.

  13. Jaguar XJ

    A couple more Jags to squeeze in, but these are important ones. Callum may have helped kick-off Jaguar’s new era with the big-selling XF, but it’s the wilder, more daring XJ that deserves applause.

    It truly split opinion on first reveal, its hindquarters specifically. Age has softened the outrage but it’s not lessened the impact of a design that shows its Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class rivals up as staid and safe. Four years without a facelift (and counting) vindicates Jag’s, and Callum’s, bravery.

  14. Jaguar F-Type

    Ian Callum’s greatest hits really wouldn’t be complete without the F. It may not be boy’s bedroom wall material like the C-X75 we kicked off with, but this is a car that made production virtually unchanged from its prototype (the C-X16) and which looks superb as either Convertible or Coupe.

    There are nods to the E-Type it recalls, but it’s not at all retro, while its design has already proved malleable enough to comfortably morph into the limited-run - and wonderfully crackers - Project 7.

    Cheers Ian. Please never retire.

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