Take a tour of designer Ian Callum’s wonderful car collection and studio
Jonny Smith, host of the YouTube channel The Late Brake Show, caught up with legendary designer Ian Callum in his workshop/studio where Callum is working on his Singer-style reimagination of the Aston Martin Vanquish, the VC25. The space is also where he also stores his beautifully curated collection of cars.
“What I like about my cars is that they are of a time when I dreamed of having them; they were attainable,” Callum tells Smith as the two take a stroll through the shop. “And that in many ways was the whole ethos of Jaguar … They weren’t overly exotic but they were just on the edge. It’s important that my cars are like that.”
Here are some highlights, along with Callum’s personal impressions of each car:
Porsche 993-based 911 RSR homage
“The 993 is my favorite 911 of all time,” the designer says. “It’s just such a pretty car. It’s got a totality about it that I’ve always loved. The simplicity of the front, it all wraps back on itself and encompasses the wheels. You know that somebody spent months executing these forms—not days or weeks, but months.”
German tuning company Roock Autosport performed the upgrades, stripping the car out and turn it into an RSR homage.
Aston Martin Vanquish
The first car built on Aston’s long-lived VH architecture, the Vanquish was a major technical step forward. It was modern, sophisticated, refined, and timelessly styled. The 5.9-liter V-12, mated to an F1-style six-speed paddle-shifted manual gearbox, churned out 460 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The arrival of the Vanquish S in 2004 brought more power, totaling 520 horses, amid other improvements.
“I realized one day that I’d never owned a car that I have worked on, so I thought the Vanquish was the one I should really have,” says Callum. “I wanted an S, as it’s a little bit quicker, a little bit more sorted. It’s only got 24,000 miles. It’s kind of a strange thing, when I drive it, it’s remarkably modern. The weight distribution is very good, because the engine sits quite far back. It addresses the aesthetic we wanted, but also the weight distribution. It actually handles and drives quite well, but that’s probably why I don’t drive it as much. The other cars are a little bit more interesting to drive.”
“I love this,” Callum remarks of his Triumph. “When I was 20 years old, my best friend had a brand-new one, and we used to drive to London in it, and to Edinburgh and Glasgow and go to the clubs in it. I have fond memories and I think that’s what hooked me into this. It’s such a fun car to drive. Of all the cars I’ve got, this is the car I drive the most, by far.”
The TR6 was the last of Triumph’s proper roadsters, complete with a 2.5-liter straight-six, separate body and chassis, and even then-crude independent rear suspension. They make great first classics and sound great, which is surely one reason Callum doesn’t tire of his.
1932 Ford hot rod
The Deuce is perhaps the most widely known and beloved of America’s classic hot rods, appealing to car fans across generational, demographic, and national barriers.
“Again, it’s a childhood thing. Prompted by some magazines my brother [Moray, VP of Design at Ford] bought for me some American car magazines and there I found the ’32 Ford. And I’ve been in love with it ever since. Under the hood is a Windsor 351 small-block with a carburetor. It’s probably touching 400 horsepower. I never in my life dreamed I’d have a ’32 that looks as good as this.”
Austin Mini Cooper S
Forever remembered as the hero of the Monte Carlo Rally and the star of The Italian Job, John Cooper’s hot-rod take on the humble Mini city car is a lot of personality in a small package. As a native Brit, it should come as no shock that Callum holds this Mini dear.
“I bought this car nearly 25 years ago—it wasn’t very old when I bought it, maybe 18 months,” reflects Callum. “I’ve done the suspension, I’ve done the wheels. The engine’s stock, I’ve got rally seats which helps a lot, I’ve got four-pot caliper brakes. It handles really well, and it’s still only got 25,000 miles on it. This one’s a keeper.
“It’s quite extraordinary. The XJ was a beautiful car, but it was the shorter-wheelbase one that works. It just makes the overall proportions so much better. The real classy bit is that it’s pillarless. It’s such a beautiful car. It’s very elegant, it’s very beautiful, it’s very graceful, as a Jaguar should be.”
At the end of the video, Callum reflects on his 20 years with Jaguar. “I’d done what I wanted to do. I’d only planned to do ten to fifteen years. I came in there with a mission to try and bring it back to where I felt it should be. It probably took a bit longer than I’d hoped. I got to the point, after I-Pace, and the next XJ, I felt like I’d done what I needed to do.”
Hopefully, now, the talented designer has time to enjoy that rather choice fleet.