COVENTRY, England - Ian Callum was stunned by the sudden death of Jaguar design chief Geoff Lawson last June 24
Lawson was a good friend, and the loss deply affected Callum.
What Callum didn't realize was the implications Lawson's death would have on his own life.
A couple of weeks later, Callum received a phone call from Ford design chief J. Mays asking him if he would consider taking Lawson's place.
Callum, 45, had been design chief for TWR Design since 1990. He also had a lucrative consulting business. His design signature is on vehicles such as Aston Martin's DB7, Vantage V12 and Project Vantage concept car.
'Replacing Geoff was a very difficult thing to come to terms with,' said Callum, who also is head of design at Aston Martin. 'I thought, `Let's look at it as a change rather than a replacement.' '
Beyond coming up with new designs, Callum faces an organizational challenge, a task he does not underestimate.
'There's a proliferation of programs coming up in the next few years and I need to get total design organization - a situation where we can manage those programs,' he said.
At the time of his death, Lawson and his team had just completed the design of the forthcoming baby Jaguar, known as the X400. So Callum - to his relief - does not have to come into the middle of a major, half-finished project.
His first real projects will be the redesigns of Jaguar's XK sports car and XJ sedans.
Callum believes his task is not only to continue Lawson's work but to take Jaguar forward as it grows exponentially into a full-line, global luxury brand with four model lines.
'You've got to build a visual bridge so people know where a car stands,' said Callum. 'If you buy an S-Type, you can relate to what type of car this is. It's not a huge Jaguar. It's a sports sedan. I think it's very brave what Geoff did with the S-Type.
'Having made that link, I now have the job to take it to the next step, the next generation.
'I take a view that Jaguars, first and foremost, were dynamic. That's my link. They were dynamic - always gorgeous-looking cars - and well-proportioned with strong architecture.'