A couple of years ago I was among those watching the unveiling of the latest Jaguar automobile and, like pretty much everyone else in the room, was stunned by the car’s beauty.
While the car was stunning, its beauty was no surprise. This Jaguar was merely the most recent work produced by automotive artist Ian Callum.
A native of Scotland, Callum had been design director at Ghia when the Italian studio was still going strong. His tenure there included the fabulous Zig, Zag and Via concept cars. Later, Callum became chief designer at Aston Martin, where he put some of the most amazing cars ever seen on the road and gorgeous concepts on the auto show circuit. Since 1999, Jaguar has benefited from Callum’s artistic hand and eye, most recently by the spectacular F-type.
I’ve known Callum for at least a couple of decades and he agreed to step out of the limelight at that Jaguar unveiling to answer a question for me.
“If you tried really hard,” I asked him, “could you design an ugly car?”
Ian was taken aback by the question, but he saw I was serious in its asking. He thought, and then thought some more before answering.
His answer was simple, clear and emphatic.
“No,” he said.
We both smiled.
I bring up such memories, not because of subsequent new Jaguars that Callum has designed — hey, this is ClassicCars.com — but because of the unveiling of his redesign of an old Jaguar, specifically a 1962 Jaguar Mark 2 sedan.
“This is a very personal statement,” Callum said Thursday when the car was unveiled along with the new facilities of Classic Motor Cars Ltd., the British restoration shop where Callum’s drawings were turned into three-dimensional moving metallic forms.
The opening of the new CMC complex, which includes 40,000 square feet of production space and 24,000 square feet of vehicle storage, also featured a visit by John Surtees, former world champion in both motorcycle racing and on the Grand Prix F1 circuit, as well as Norman Dewis, famed Jaguar test driver.
Simplification and clarity was my objective.”
— Ian Callum
Well, part of his objective. The other part was turning the car into something Callum would be proud to drive on a regular basis.
The Mark 2 redesign was an 18-month project for Callum, who did the design work on his home computer, and for the CMC engineering and fabrication crews.
The most obvious changes came from Callum’s design, which included lowering the car’s stance by nearly 1.3 inches and putting the Jaguar on 17-inch split-rim spoked wheels. The bumpers were reworked into the car’s overall design form. Louvers were added to the car’s flanks.
“I have always loved traditional louvers as seen on many older race cars,” Callum said. “Four louvers appear on the side of the car to add to that sense of power and ‘something different.’ Of course they had to work, so they have been designed in a low-pressure area for a better internal airflow from the modified engine.”
Speaking of the engine, the original 3.4-liter unit gave way to a 4.3-liter XK powerplant upgraded to produce even more power, which flows to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.
CMC created a bespoke power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system, uprated the front coil springs, roll bar and wishbone bushings, added adjustable shocks and solid subframe mounts, which were repositioned to produce enhanced dynamics. Front brakes also were upgraded.
The engineers devised a unique independent rear suspension set up with uprated coil springs, blade-control wishbones, outboard disc brakes, anti-roll bar and adjustable shocks.
Inside the cabin, filled with red leather, the car has a Clarion multi-media station with flip-out touch screen and hidden speaker housings and wiring done by the same VDC Trading experts who did the sound studio at the Abbey Road studios.
After all, this is going to be Callum’s daily driver.
Mark 2 by Callum is something special.”
— Norman Dewis
“I have long admired the designs of Ian Callum; to be present at the unveiling of Ian’s personally redesigned and updated Jaguar Mark 2 is a privilege,” said Surtees, one of Britain’s most revered racers.
“I have been associated with Jaguar for more than 60 years and was their chief development test engineer for 33 years,” Dewis said. “I have come to know and respect the work that CMC have carried out restoring Jaguar’s heritage. Mark 2 by Callum is something special and I was delighted when I was asked to unveil the car.”
Callum told The New York Times that the Jaguar Mark 2 joins his personal fleet, which already includes a 1932 Ford Model B “deuce coupe,” a customized 1956 Chevrolet 210 and a souped-up 1990 Mini Cooper.