Money & Motoring14th September 2014

Re-engineering a Jaguar Classic

Jaguar's Design Director, Ian Callum, fulfils a boyhood dream to re-engineer the classic Mark II

by Peter Hughes - Motoring Correspondent

Jaguar cars have recently unveiled details of their latest model. The Jaguar XE is the work of their Design Director, Ian Callum, and the company describe it as a ‘sports saloon’.

It’s difficult to over-estimate the importance of the XE to Jaguar with their future plans depending on its success but while designing it, Ian has also been applying his design skills to re-engineering what many people describe as the original sports saloon.

Launched in 1959, the Mark II Jaguar boasted performance and handling that bettered any other mass production saloon on the market. For that reason it became the car of choice for any self-respecting getaway driver and a regular star of 1970s TV police dramas. Today the car is much coveted by classic enthusiasts with good condition cars attracting prices that can exceed £40,000.

Ian CallumBy way of contract, when The Motor magazine road tested a Mark II in 1961 its price was £1951 including taxes of £614. The magazine measured the car’s top speed at 119.9mph while it went from 0 to 60mph in 11.9s. Prices of the XE are expected to start at around £27,000 when it goes on sale next spring while Jaguar have yet to reveal any performance details.

As a schoolboy, Ian says he spent endless hours drawing the Mark II but always with modifications. Now, he says, he has fulfilled an ambition he has held for nearly 50 years. Ian drew up plans for his dream Mark II and engaged the Classic Motor Company of Bridgnorth in Shropshire to build if for him.

The results were recently unveiled by Jaguar’s legendary test driver, Norman Dewis while the only man ever to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels, John Surtees, was on hand to witness the event. John raced a Mark II in the 1960s. SL First’s motoring correspondent was also fortunate enough to be invited to the exclusive event.

The re-engineering of the car took 18 months to complete and the car sports an uprated 4.3 litre Jaguar XK engine along with a 5 speed manual gearbox, uprated and lowered suspension, uprated brakes and 17 inch wheels. Gone is much of the original car’s chrome work, which Ian believes obscured the flowing lines of the original design, along with the hefty bumpers.

The interior has also received Ian’s attention and sports bright red trim along with a state of the art in-car entertainment system.

In addition to the high tech aspects of the car, however, building it has also relied on traditional craft techniques. As an example, the front wings of the “Mark II by Callum” are 25mm wider than the originals to accommodate the larger wheels and tyres. Hand beaten from sheet metal, it is impossible to distinguish them from the originals.

Speaking at the launch, Ian acknowledged that some purists might not welcome what he had done to the car, but added, “I don’t own a single car that hasn’t been modified in some way. As a designer I think that’s my prerogative but if you want an original Mark II there’s plenty out there.”

Speaking about the current generation of Jaguars, including the XE, Ian says he is very conscious of the heritage of the company, explaining, “What makes a Jaguar is not specific shapes or forms, it’s about the philosophy and how the car is built. It’s about the purity. It’s about creating a shape that’s overly dramatic compared with other cars and overtly sporty. That’s the philosophy of Jaguar and that’s where William Lyons was. No two of his cars were the same but that’s what his philosophy was, purity, beauty and sportiness.”

Having fulfilled the ambition he held as a ten year old, Ian also admitted there is another he has held since he was 15, saying, “I’d quite like to do a Series 2 XJ Coupe.” We look forward to being invited to that launch.

Article by Peter Hughes - Motoring Correspondent

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Money & Motoring

14th September 2014