There’s no doubt Ian Callum is one of the superstars of modern car design, having led styling for both Jaguar and Aston Martin.
When he announced his departure from JLR earlier this year – stating he had no intention to retire – the question was what he would turn his attentions to next.
Now we have the answer: a stylish raid on his own back catalogue.
The Vanquish 25 is the product of his new company, CALLUM, and is described to CarAdvice by the man himself as being the facelift that the car never lived long enough to receive.
“I bought one a couple of years ago and started to think about it,” he says. “The car was only produced for six years – quite a short life – and I started to think in terms of doing the things to it that I always wanted to.”
The resulting car will be sold under the R-Reforged brand by Swiss outfit AF Racing, which has previously produced its own version of Aston’s V12 Zagato models.
The CALLUM Vanquish will be limited to 25 cars, with each one built around the exact requirements of individual buyers. Such exclusivity, and Callum’s personal touch, doesn’t come cheap: the cost will be £550,000 (AU$995,000 at current rates) before local taxes, although that does include the cost of the base Aston itself.
Oh, and Aston itself is onboard with the project, giving its official approval to the new edition.
“We’re very proud of the cars created during Ian’s time and they are an important part on both our heritage and evolution,” the company’s creative director Marek Reichman said in the official release.
Design changes have given the CALLUM Vanquish a much more menacing appearance, with a few front bumper incorporating a split-level radiator grille and cooling vents for the brakes. The rear bumper has also been cut down to incorporate a far bigger diffuser, with integrated exhaust tailpipes at each side.
Chrome has gone, replaced by darker materials – Callum admits to chasing an “intimidating” vibe – and the Vanquish’s sills have lost the scalloped shape that Callum gave the original car – a period obsession he says was also reflected on some of the HSV models he worked on while TWR’s design director.
What were Jaguar XK door mirrors have also been swapped for new bespoke units.
Interior changes are even bigger, with Callum admitting he was never happy with the plasticy cabin of the original car.
The CALLUM model gets a complete retrim with Bridge of Orchy leather featuring a deconstructed tartan pattern inspired by Callum’s Scottish origins, with a new dashboard featuring bespoke switchgear in place of the regular Vanquish’s Jaguar XK-sourced parts, a touchscreen interface and aluminium details. Rear seats have gone – Callum says they were never part of the original plan for the car – replaced with bespoke fitted leather luggage made by Mulberry.
There’s also a mechanical watch from British brand Bremont, this being removable to be worn out; the same company has also redesigned the Vanq’s instrument pack.
CALLUM is planning to offer its Vanquish with no fewer than three transmission choices: the automated single-clutch Speedshift system that the car was originally sold with, the six-speed manual conversion that is already offered by AM’s Works Division, and an all-new third option of a GM-sourced six-speed torque converter auto.
Callum professes to being a fan of Speedshift – experiencing it his own Vanquish – but admits that the conventional auto will likely be the more popular selection.
“It wouldn’t be my personal choice, it’s a bit genteel for me, but for people who do a lot of town driving it will be the best option.”
The 6.0-litre V12 engine has been given revisions including a new induction and exhaust system and internal changes which we believe are new camshafts, boosting output to 432kW.
Chassis tweaks include a 10mm reduction in ride height, stiffer anti-roll bars, new springs and dampers, and also carbon-ceramic brakes from a more modern Aston. At the corners, 20-inch forged alloy wheels are wrapped in bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
While the revisions have changed the Vanquish, they haven’t turned it into something else.
“It will be a better car, no question,” he says, “but will it be up to the performance standards of today’s GT cars... that’s difficult to say. I think its appeal will be different, you have to do it in the context of what it is – you can’t just throw massive statements of 2020 styling over it.”
Callum admits other cars from his hit-filled back catalogue may become the basis for future CALLUM models produced with R-Reforged, but insists he doesn’t feel limited to reworking his own designs. The ultimate ambition is to create something truly new again.
“I’d like to think that one day we could do a complete body as coachbuilders used to do,” he says. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. That’s not a current plan, but it’s certainly an objective.”