It was a benefit as well as a challenge. Jaguar Cars design chief Ian Callum had more than 30 years of tradition to work with on the new-generation XJ sedan. But he also had to take over the half-finished design of Geoff Lawson, who died in 1999. Here are Callum's thoughts on the past and present.
Series I, 1968 debut: I was 14 years old, and I saw the first Series I in an Aberdeen showroom. I still have the brochure. I remember the hooded lamps, the inset grille that didn't look like a picture frame stuck on the sheet metal.
There was the cleanness of the rear glass, the power bulge over the rear wheels raised up. There was the proportion of the enormous wheel and the thinness of the sheet metal on the fender over it. It was the last car Sir William Lyons worked on.
Series II, 1973: It had a higher bumper and a crossed grille, which I liked. But the grille became a picture frame covering the sheet metal.
The thing that strikes me is that Jaguar has never had one badge like Mercedes or BMW. It's always been different, car to car, generation to generation. I put it down to British idiosyncrasies.
Series III, 1979: This one was developed by Pininfarina. It raised the roof and made the back and rear window squarer. The rear door is longer. This is where the car became more of a limo and less of a sport saloon. It also had those funny rubber bumpers for U.S. safety requirements.
XJ40, 1986: There were a lot of cost constraints on this version. It had a one-piece bonnet (hood), whereas the old one had 13 pieces. It was a lot flatter, sharper and more fashion-conscious. I think it was a bit stiff. It had bigger glass, and the proportion to the lower sheet metal was increased. But even then, there were still packaging problems.
X300, 1994: The amazing thing is that this car had the same doors, roof, glass, cabin as the XJ40. It was a purely superficial sheet metal change, very clever work by Geoff Lawson.
X308, 1997: There was little styling change, but the car gets a V-8.
X350, 2003: I picked this car up 60 percent complete from Geoff. Most of this car is his. I decided right away that I would not overturn any of his styling decisions. The proportions were good and more modern with short overhangs. It has a short hood for a cab-forward look. It has a high beltline, which has more luxury connotation. But it also had to carry five full-sized Americans in the back, so it is higher. It doesn't look like it, until you put it next to an X300.
The X300 looks like it is flowing backward, while the X350 is surging forward. It gives the car more power and drama. Long-hooded luxury was from another era. It is the right proportion for the car to be cab forward. There is nothing about luxury but proportion. Luxury is about the elegance of the car.