Ian Callum, the noted automotive designer, has started a new company, simply named Callum Design. It could just as easily be called Unfinished Business.
Mr. Callum believes there is still mileage left, so to speak, in some notable car designs, and his shop intends to bring certain models of yesteryear forward and show how they retain their vitality in the modern world.
“We are in the business of reimagining,” said Mr. Callum, 66, who has been working out of his design shop in Warwick, England, since retiring in 2019 after two decades as Jaguar Land Rover’s top designer. To date, he and his team of stylists, engineers and fabricators have “reimagined” the Aston Martin Vanquish and the Jaguar Mark 2; most recently they’ve announced a second-generation Corvette project.
“Some stories,” he noted with a wink during an online press event, “are better the second time told.”
Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl were more than designs — they were almost the exaggeration of design,” he said, referring to two mid-20th-century General Motors designers. “Expressive, glamorous, the essence of America. Or Hollywood.”
To illustrate his point, he revealed that he had bought a 1956 Chevy from eBay Motors, late one night on an impulse. “I clicked on ‘Buy It Now’ — the seller was in Cleveland,” he said. “He was extremely surprised at who wanted to buy it and where I wanted it shipped. But he agreed.”
Mr. Callum subsequently heaped an enormous amount of love, and subtle design and engineering improvements, upon that cherry-red classic, and perhaps that helped point him toward his newest venture. (His private collection also includes a ’32 Ford and a ’93 Mini.)
Mr. Callum’s first reimagined design involved “bringing forward” his own work on the award-winning Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish V12 — cars that were in production largely unchanged from the early 1990s to 2018. That’s an eternity in the automotive world.
“The Vanquish was perfect for its time, but it could be better,” he said. “I know, because I designed it.”
So he has tried to visualize how the design and engineering could be advanced, unconstrained by corporate edicts on model life spans and the pence-pinching of an accounting department.
The result is the Vanquish 25, of which — as the number suggests — 25 are being built and made available for sale. The asking price is negotiable, because prospective buyers can suggest bespoke details. Figure the bottom line would be somewhere north of half a million dollars. Despite that, Mr. Callum characterized business as “brisk.”
William Lyons, and asked about a position in the company’s design studio. Incredibly, Lyons wrote him back and advised him to study technical drawing.