Callum: roadkill to roadthrill

Moray Callum

AGED just nine, Moray Callum won first prize at a Dumfries library for drawing an otter.

Now 49 years later he’s still drawing admiring glances for his animal instincts. Only this time it’s a Mustang of the iconic Ford variety.

Callum, four years younger than brother Ian — Jaguar’s Head of Design — is Head of Global Design for Ford in America. It’s simply one of the most elite jobs in the motor industry.

Callum jnr, born and bred in Dumfries, is the man who brought the latest Mustang to Europe for the first time in right-hand drive.

Yet he has revealed his first road to success began with ROADKILL.

He told me: “I won a book prize in the local library for drawing an otter when I was nine. The original drawing was actually of a helicopter running over the otter — but I quickly rubbed out the helicopter before I entered the competition — and it won.

“I haven’t told anyone that before. That means my first winning drawing was of some sort of roadkill!

“Obviously, growing up with Ian, I was always always surrounded by the cars and the influence of them. But I did actually want to be a vet at one point, I always loved animals.

“Then I went to a farm one day and I didn’t like the smell so I abandoned that idea.

“Ian had such a huge passion for cars, that did rub off on me. But I really made a conscious decision to try to take a different route.

“I didn’t want to follow him so I attempted to verge off into different fields — it was like a bit of sibling rebellion.

“I started off in architecture at Napier University in Edinburgh and then I went into an industrial design course. My first internship was at a pipe-fitting company. It was the most boring job I’ve ever had — heavy engineering stuff.

“I had another internship coming up and I didn’t want to do that again so I looked at cars because they were something I knew so much about. That was with Chrysler in the UK.

“They sponsored me to study at the Royal College of Art and from that moment on that was me sold on cars.”

Moray Callum talks to Phil Lanning
Moray Callum talks to Phil Lanning

Callum, 58, went on to design for Peugeot, Ghia and Aston before joining Ford in the US — based at their HQ in Dearborn, Michigan.

He then moved to Mazda in 2001 and was responsible for the new MX-5 and revitalising their look with the CX-7 — but five years later he was back at the Blue Oval.

The Mustang is his toughest assignment to date. He added: “Designing the Mustang was both exciting and fearful at the same time.

“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t kind of thing. You really want to do it but you are conscious that there’s so much knowledge of the car from inside and outside of the industry.

Most people have their favourite Mustang in their head, so you immediately know it’s going to be difficult to please everyone.

“It’s not like designing the Porsche 911 for instance, that has evolved gradually over the years.

“The Mustang began life and became an icon and went away for a bit and has come back just as strong.

“It’s a bit like Doctor Who, it changes character all the time but people always remember their best ones. “What we firmly wanted to do with this new Mustang was make it probably more of a legitimate sports car.

“A little bit less American, a bit more athletic and what we would call wrapped around its mechanicals.

“So we really wanted to use the proportions of the vehicle and made it lower and wider to make it a tighter car than its predecessor.

“This Mustang has arrived Europe, but it was still designed for the US. The demand from the rest of the world has been huge.

“I think most people get what the Mustang stands for and the rest of the world wants what America loves about the Mustang.

“In terms of quality, cornering, suspension and driving ability, it will be heavily scrutinised in Europe we know that, but its look is globally appreciated. We didn’t need to think differently for Europe.”

Callum admits his biggest desire right is to drive the Mustang — from Moffat to Edinburgh.

He said: “My dream is to drive the Mustang back home. Living here in the Michigan area you don’t get a lot of nice windy roads where you can really drive a car.

“I obviously know quite a few in Scotland and I’d love to get this Mustang back there.

“My dream is to drive it on the back road from Moffat to Edinburgh.

I know that road really well. Then to get it up to the Highlands would just be great. I’d like to do that with the Mustang.”

Let’s hope he doesn’t run over any otters in the process.

Phil Lanning

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