Each out on their own, the Callum brothers have a golden opportunity
Could Ian and Moray Callum join forces to form the ultimate automotive design firm? The timing for such a family affair might be just right
Ian Callum left his role as Design Director at Jaguar in 2019 to form his own consultancy. Now that younger brother Moray has just departed from his position as Vice President of Design at Ford there’s the tantalizing prospect of the brothers working together.
The two Scotsmen have incredible design CVs, having drafted cars for the likes of Chrysler, Peugeot, Mazda, Aston Martin, Nissan, and, of course Jaguar and Ford. However, according to older brother Ian, Moray never intended to follow him into car design.
“He loved cars and he’s very clever, he’s one of those people who if he wanted to be a doctor, he could have been or if he wanted to be a nuclear scientist, he probably could have been,” says Ian Callum. “But he decided that after school, he wasn’t going to go and design cars because that’s what his brother did. So he went off as an architect. And then he came to my degree show and he was at Heriot Watt doing architecture. And he did one year there. He went back, he said, ‘now I’ve decided I want to draw cars instead of houses’. So he jumped ship, he went to Napier to do industrial design, and that was the start.”
Moray Callum’s stellar car design career began at Chrysler in the U.K. before he moved to Peugeot in France, Ghia in Italy, and then Ford in Dearborn, Michigan in 1995. This first stint at the Blue Oval was most notable for his 2000 Taurus facelift and its E-Type influenced front grille. In 2001 Moray was sent to Japan to lead Mazda’s design department, overseeing the all-new NC-generation MX-5 Miata and introducing the CX-9 crossover alongside a host of concept cars. Then it was back to Ford as Design Director for North America passenger cars; you have him to thank for cars including the 2011 Explorer, the 2013 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. Promoted to Vice President of Design in 2014 he leaves the latest Mustang, Ford GT, and Bronco as part of his legacy.
Meanwhile, for older brother Ian, the 20 years he spent at Jaguar were a childhood dream come true. At the age of 14 he wrote to Jaguar’s head of engineering William Heynes asking advice on designing sports cars. Ian would go on to study industrial design at the Glasgow School of Art and then London’s Royal College of Art. Joining Ford first, Ian had a hand in rally homologation specials such as the RS200 and Escort Cosworth. At Tom Walkinshaw Racing Ian penned a car that would re-invent Aston Martin, the DB7.
“I went into to TWR probably slightly naive and very ambitious that I wanted to design cars and I wanted to be intrinsically involved in the whole car. The opportunity to indulge in a complete car by yourself is a very rare thing and I was very fortunate in that respect. I went to TWR not knowing what I was getting into or what I was going to be doing and the first car we did was a car that Tom (Walkinshaw) tried to sell it to Jaguar as a potential XJ-S replacement. Jaguar showed no interest. I think there was a bit of ‘not invented here’ going on.
“So Tom went looking for another client and Aston Martin was the obvious one. He persuaded them that we could do a smaller, less expensive car for them and that’s how it evolved into the Aston Martin DB7. It was a tremendous opportunity and really my calling card for the rest of my life.”
The DB9 and V8 Vantage would follow under Ian Callum’s direction, and moving on to Jaguar he completely transformed the company’s design. Think of the massive jump between the retro S-Type and its XF replacement and it’s hard to believe that they share essentially the same underpinnings. His tenure at Jaguar would also see the arrival of the second XK8, XE, F-Pace, E-Pace, F-Type and I-Pace, but it’s the V12 Vanquish that has left the most lasting impression on Callum.
Over 20 years after the car launched Ian bought one for his own car collection and quickly realized he wasn’t happy with the way it had originally turned out.
“For every car that I’ve worked on, you look back on it, and you think it was right at the time. It was the best you could do and as long as you do the best that’s all people can ask of you. But you look back, you learn, and fashions change of course. I think more assertiveness was needed for the car to bring it up to scratch. And of course with designing cars comes confidence. You can tell what’s been put down with confidence or with doubt. I thought it was a bit genteel.”
So Ian Callum set to work on his old project, addressing all the elements that now bothered him from the lights to the fascia, the wheel offset and the interior. The result is the Aston Martin Callum Vanquish 25—a run of 25 reimagined cars with a huge number of design and engineering updates that make use of the latest materials and technology.
The Vanquish also launched CALLUM, a design and engineering business, and with brother Moray now looking for new opportunities could the two Callums be united in design? It wouldn’t be the first time.
Ian and Moray previously collaborated at Italian styling house Ghia and headed up studios as part of Ford’s Premium Auto Group.
“It was quite by coincidence,” remembers Ian Callum. “My boss at Ford Tom Scott took custodianship of Ghia and he got Moray out of Peugeot. He’d been there a few months and Tom asked me if I’d like to work in Italy. So I walked in said ‘Hello, I’m your new boss.’ It was a time when I really got to know Moray. We were five years apart as we grew up, so we were just too far apart to be the best of buddies. We were close like any brothers but I got to know him and he looked after me well, because I was on my own for a lot of the time when I was there and we had a lot of fun together. He was more of the creative one and I was the manager.”
Together they worked on the Ghia Via concept car and later as heads of design at Jaguar and Mazda Ian and Moray would often find themselves across a conference table headed by Ford’s J Mays.
Could CALLUM’s exciting new projects including EVs, the Hungarian hypercar Kincsem, boats and even furniture tempt Moray into joining?
“We’ve never officially talked about this,” says Ian. “We never really talked work together, mainly because we were too interested in the cars we bought, or those we’d like to buy to worry about trivial stuff like work.
“I know that he won’t sit still. He’s got lots of cars to play with. So I said to him ‘go and sell half your cars and go work on the other half and make them perfect and enjoy yourself for six months.’ After six months is up we’ll have a chat about stuff. There’s nothing planned but I’d like to work with him.”
With such talent and experience, untethered by OEM bureaucracy, just imagine what the Callum brothers could accomplish.