At the London Classic Car Show in February 2019, Jaguar design director Ian Callum was selected to receive an ‘Icon Award’ to commemorate his illustrious career designing some of the world’s most iconic cars

Car Design News got some exclusive time with Mr Callum at the London Classic Car Show’s dedicated stand, where he gave us the story behind all 11 of the cars present – and one or two prototypes that weren’t.

Ian Callum on the Aston Martin Vanquish

The next commission I got from Aston Martin was this. Bob Dover was manager, and he called me in and said ‘we want to do a concept’. We produced a concept to replace the Aston Martin Vantage/Virage, the big Aston of the time, and he wanted it to look tougher and a bit “more manly” – to use his words – and so we created a project called Project Vantage. That was the green concept car. Jacques Nasser decided we should build it, and so that evolved into the Vanquish… and every surface changed.

Of course, my job was to make sure it wasn’t recognisable change, so it was actually going to be effectively the same car. But it was great, and we only had one design review in this whole process with Jacques Nasser and Bob Dover, and that was it – so if you want a good-looking car, keep everybody away, especially the bosses! One design review, and Jacques said he didn’t like the tail lights, so we changed them, and that was it…

So that’s how that came about, and it’s still one of my favourites. I’ve got one of these at home and I really love it. V12, of course, first of the V12s I believe, that Ford developed with Aston, and an automatic [paddle] change on a manual gearbox, which was a bit of an Achilles’ Heel to begin with because it was physically changing gear with a clutch, with hydraulics.

Nowadays we just put automatics in, but this was one of the first paddle-change cars. The later model, which I have – when they got all the hydraulics and valve gear sorted – works much better. It was designed purely as a two-seater, I know some of the later ones came as four-seaters and it puzzled me why, but it was designed as a two-seater.

Next week will be the third and final of Callum’s featured Aston Martins – the DB9