Hooniverse Asks: Do you have a favorite automotive designer?

It’s hard to overstate the amount of good that Ian Callum has brought to Jaguar. After helming the British automaker’s design efforts for the last two decades, Callum has announced that he’s passing the torch. He wants to try out new projects after achieving his goals at Jaguar.

Callum started his career at Ford. He then became the Chief Designer for TWR. It was there where Ian penned such iconic cars as the Nissan R390, Aston Martin DB7, and Aston Martin Vanquish. Eventually he moved on to Jaguar, and that’s where he was tasked with freshening up the brand. To breathe new life into Jaguar. And he did just that.

The first car that was truly a complete Callum design was the 2006 XK. But it was the 2008 XF that saw the automaker finding new customers at its dealers doorsteps. Callum continued on that success with the XJ, the F-Type, and the rest of the recent Jaguar designs, including the I-Pace.

Callum will remain at hand should Jaguar come a calling, as he’s retained the role of a consultant. But it will be interesting to see what else Callum can cook up in a new space.

He’s certainly one of the great automotive designers of our lifetime. I mean, he helped shape the Ford RS200 and is heavily responsibly for the DB9. He’s on my list of favorite automotive designers.

Who is on yours?

35 Comments

  1. While at TWR he also did the 1994 Holden Special Vehicles range. I like his XK Jag apart from the headlights.

    But my favourite designer would have to be Giugiaro

        1. The VT through VZ Commodores (as well as the LWB Statesman/Caprice and Monaro/Pontiac GTO they spawned) had a lot of Omega B DNA in them. Earlier generations were similarly (loosely) based on concurrent Rekords, Senators, and Omegas/Carltons.

        2. For that one you need to be looking at the first-gen Omega not the B, and the basic body structure, but I think not the floorpan that was carried over from the old car (Record/Commodore) with its live axle and much narrower track width.

          They had put the IRS in some models inc. the HSVs by the time of this car (VR model), and had new front suspension & mounts. The dash is completely different too.

  2. I can’t really point to a single person in business now, as it is helpful to see a whole career’s ark to judge…even though my heart jumps a bit every time I see a Fisker Karma. So answering for all of time, ever, my vote goes to Jan Wilsgaard, who said:

    “The functional is often the beautiful. You follow the laws of nature and don’t make things more complicated than they really are.”

    His perfectly proportioned Volvos are timeless to my eyes, as well as, oddly, icons of their time. Iconic in their pragmatic simplicity.

    1. Mister Fisker has quite a row of nice cars indeed: Z8, DB9, and my favourite, Fisker Surf, which looks like a child of a Z3 and a Panamera.

      1. I’ve read reports that say Callum may have had a bigger hand in the DB9 than given credit for… But the Z8? Absolutely! Fantastic design on that one.

    2. Despite the strong American styling influence, Wilsgaard did indeed create a masterpiece with the Amazon, and the 120 series remains one of my favorites of all time. I love the 140s as well.

      The Fisker Karma, on the other hand, makes me want to cringe. I love the DB9 and Vantage, but Fisker’s startup effort looked to me like a train smash from all angles. And the Tramonto and Latigo facelifts that came before it only made the donor production cars even more awkward looking.

      1. You know what, I get that. Mentioned the Karma first and foremost because it is the polar opposite of the Wilsgaard-philosophy…also of the Volvo philosophy if you know how “carefully” they were made.

        But the Karma is just very, very striking in person, a whole different animal from photos. Sort of “organic”, low, almost feminine and just outrageously sharp. Couldn’t care less for its mechanics, but I can stare at these all day long.

      1. Nice…so are you tired of seeing them or does the design stay interesting? I’ve seen a Karma maybe five times.

  3. I think Harley Earl was one of the greats and Ralph Gilles is no slack either. And whoever did the Lamborghini Miura should get to play golf with God.

    1. Marcello Gandini, who also did the Lancia Stratos, Maserati Khamsin and first BMW 5-series.

    2. Also, the handful times I’ve met and chatted with Gilles, he’s a 100% awesome car person like the rest of us. And he can wheel.

      1. In every interview in which I’ve seen him, Gilles gives that impression. It’s good to hear that your first-hand experience confirms this. He seems like a very personable and genuine car guy.

        1. If you are on Insta, he’s worth a follow. Recently rebuilt a Giulia and it’s really nice.
          Also, he tracked a minivan in the 90’s.

  4. I have a few favorite designers, some well known, some less so. Of the prominent,Giorgetto Giugiaro for essentially defining the sharp edged 70s and 80s cars I grew up with and Marcello Gandini for sheer badassery, since his portfolio includes the Lancia Stratos and the Lamborghini Countach. Among the obscure, David Bache who designed the Land Rover Series II and the Range Rover, plus the Rover SD1, and David Robb who was head of design for BMW Motorcycles from 1993-2012 and was responsible for the iconic R1200 GS and all the F series bikes with the gas cap by the seat, because the tank was under the seat. I always appreciated that bit of technical honesty.

    1. In addition, David Bache for the Rover P4, P5, P6, P7, P8 and P9 and the Austin/MG Maestro.

      1. I picked the high spots, the Maestro was not as iconic as his Land Rover designs or the SD1

  5. I would have to say Bill Michell who headed GM’s design in the 60’s and early 70’s. He over saw the design of such cars as the Corvair, C2 Corvette, Riveria, Toronado, Eldorado, and others.

  6. As a biology student I was fascinated by the organic shapes of Taru Lahti’s Ghia Focus concept. It looked like something that just crawled up out of the sea, and while I can’t say it’s beautiful, it is certainly interesting. I don’t think Lahti designed another car.
    https://spct2000.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/92ghia_ford_focus_09.jpg

    Categorically, I find my self drawn to GM designs from 1949 to 1954 (I guess that was under Earl’s direction, with maybe some Mitchell influence– I don’t honestly know). I also really like Chrysler/Dodge/DeSoto cars of 1955 (Exner?).
    http://www.amcarguide.com/wp-content/gallery/rocket-88/1949-oldsmobile-rocket-88-back.jpg
    https://live.staticflickr.com/830/42035021811_4703a3d87e_b.jpg

    And as an AMC fan, I have to throw some kudos to Dick Teague, who was ultimately pretty influential, given what he had to work with.
    https://cdn1.mecum.com/auctions/sc0512/sc0512-124877/images/sc0512-124877_1@2x.jpg?1337098710000
    https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/JEEPCherokee-XJ–794_3.jpg

    1. Yes, Dick Teague deserves massive credit for coming up with some very interesting designs while working under significant financial and technical constraints. He took a chunk out of the middle of the Javelin to create the AMX. Brilliant. Then he did the same thing to the Hornet to make the Gremlin. Less successful design-wise than the AMX, perhaps, but the only way AMC could get a car into that segment quickly. And they sold a bunch of ‘em (including one to my sister. Like many Gremlin buyers, it was her first new car).

  7. The unsung heroes of Pininfarina, Leonardo Fioravanti, Aldo Brovarone, Paulo Martin, and Aldo Sessano.
    Fioravanti for the Ferraris, 365 GTB4 Daytona, 308/328, 348, 355, 288GTO, Berlinetta Boxer, Testa Rossa,, F40, P5, P6. Apart from the Mondial, perhaps not a bad car among them. And among them some of the best looking cars ever built. https://rossoautomobili.com/driven-by-design/leonardo-fioravanti-dream-car-designer/
    https://rossoautomobili.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Leonardo_Fioravanti-1.jpg

    Aldo Brovarone for the Peugeots, 304, 305, 504, 504 Coupe,604, 505, 306, 405, 605 and Lancia Gamma Coupe, and Ferrari 206/246 and 365 GTC
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldo_Brovarone

    Paolo Martin for the Peugeot 104, Fiat 130 Coupe, Lancia Monte Carlo/Scorpion, Ferrari Modulo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paolo_Martin

    Aldo Sessano for the Seat Bocanegra 1200/1430 Sport and pretty much all the good looking Mitsubishis from the 70s and 80s, the Colts, Galants, Sigmas , Mirages and L300 vans

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