Ian Callum given CBE as he steps down as Jaguar design director

Published: 08 June 2019

► Ian Callum leaves after 20 years
► Succeeded by Julian Thomson
► Changing of guard at Jag design

The departing head of Jaguar design, Ian Callum, has been given a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of his contribution to automotive design.

Callum announced the Commander of the British Empire gong on his Twitter feed:

It's the end of an era at Jaguar design as crayon-in-chief Callum this week announced he was leaving his post as director of design after two decades. He will be succeeded on 1 July 2019 by his trusty lieutenant, Julian Thomson.

Callum joined Jaguar in 1999 and his first influence was felt on the Jag X-type estate, whose rear end was his. But once in his stride, he can rightly claim to have presided over the biggest period of change in the car maker's history, steering it through the Ford years to the pivotal XF saloon and on to the more adventurous Tata era, culminating in the memorable F-type, current crop of SUVs and the brand's first electric car, the confidently progressive i-Pace.

CAR magazine will remember Callum as the man who finally cast aside the pipe-and-slippers image that has followed Jaguar for too long; his edgier concepts and production cars have pushed the envelope such that the G'n'T brigade can no longer be said to shape the brand's design. Not every modern Jaguar has hit the sweet spot, however - critics may argue that his latter-day XJ was contrived and the latest saloons play it too safe (in the name of brand-building in a German-dominated market, Callum would say).

He will continue to work at Jaguar in a consultancy role, but the baton has now been well and truly passed to Thomson (below), a long-time Jaguar design stalwart as well as the man credited with styling creds on the original series 1 Lotus Elise during his stint as head of design in Hethel.

Julian Thomson replaces Ian Callum as director of design at Jaguar Cars

Ian Callum on his 20 years transforming Jaguar design

'I have had an incredible career at Jaguar,' said Callum fondly. 'One of my biggest highlights was creating XF because it represented the beginning of a new era moving Jaguar from tradition to contemporary design – it was a significant turning point in our story. 

'I came into this role with a mission to take Jaguar design back to where it deserved to be. It has taken 20 years, but I believe I have achieved what I set out to do. Given the strength of both our products and the design team I feel that now is the right time to move on, both personally and professionally, and explore other design projects.'

Before his time at Jaguar, Callum worked at Ford and TWR Design, where he was responsible for the Aston Martin DB7, Vanquish and DB9 with those famous Coke bottle hips. He's also rather keen on hotrods, and has previously invited CAR magazine to sample his stunning 1932 Ford Hi-Boy Coupe.

Julian Thomson: the new creative design director at Jaguar

'I'm honoured to take up the position of director of design at Jaguar,' said Thomson. 'It will be a great privilege to lead such a talented team, and continue to build on our success. Automotive design has always been fast moving, but today it is changing at a rate faster than ever before. I'm passionate about ensuring Jaguar Design leads that change, and the cars that will drive our future.'

Before joining Jaguar in 2000, Thomson worked at Ford, Lotus and Volkswagen.

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet