Gallery: the long road to the Jaguar F-Type
Ian Callum, director of design, talks exclusively on the cars that led Jaguar to today’s all-conquering roadster.
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 TopGear.com through the concept cars and coupes, sportscars and supercars that kept the F-Types seat warm until now?
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.”
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 the Callum dream garage. Love it!”
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 engine car, hence the Ferrari-like buttresses. Imagine a V12 engine nestled in there and it all makes sense.”
The 1982 XJ-41 (convertible) and 1982 XJ-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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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!”
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 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 in to 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.”
The 2000 F-Type concept
“This car was well under way 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.”
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!
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.”
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.”