What do the 2016 Ford GT, Mustang Mach-E and Bronco have in common? All three were styled under the guidance of Moray Callum, Ford’s global design chief. Ford announced Callum’s retirement today, concluding a 38-year career that spanned a number of brands beyond Ford, including Ghia, Chrysler, Peugeot and Mazda.
Callum will stay with Ford until May, when he’ll be succeeded by Anthony Lo, who arrives at the Blue Oval from Renault. Lo cites the Sierra RS Cosworth as a major influence, and one of his first contributions to the automotive world was the similarly minded Lotus Carlton, one of the fastest sedans of the early ’90s.
Callum’s tenure with Ford aligned with a period of great change for the company’s design. He first joined Ford in 1995 via Mazda, during a period when Dearborn held a controlling stake in the Japanese automaker. He left Mazda in 2001, but returned to Ford proper in 2006 as an executive director before being promoted in 2014 to the role of design chief. His older brother, Ian Callum, led Jaguar’s design studio before stepping down two years ago.
It was during Moray Callum’s second stint at Ford that his influence became particularly evident, I’d say. The early-to-mid 2000s were an era of underwhelming, passionless design for all of the Detroit Three. In Ford’s case, you had standouts like Camilo Pardo’s original GT and Sid Ramnarace’s fifth-generation Mustang, but those breakthroughs were reserved for the company’s most aspirational nameplates. Once Callum arrived, you started to notice things change for the better across Ford’s entire range, particularly its American offerings.
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The curvaceous-yet-confident 2011 Explorer and 2013 Fusion were statements of intent compared with their boxy, staid predecessors, and I reckon both still look solid today. Callum had a hand in both. He also oversaw design of the current, sixth-generation Mustang, which was notably the first to be sold from the factory in right-hand drive configuration, bringing the pony car to markets where fans previously missed out.
Today, you could argue that Ford’s design is the strongest it’s been since New Edge era of the late ’90s, particularly if the Bronco and Bronco Sport are anything to go by. And while I’m not as sold on the Mustang Mach-E’s looks as a lot of people are, it too seems to have captured the public’s imagination.
Thankfully, Callum is leaving Ford in good hands. Lo penned the 1995 Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination concept — a big coupe that informed the design language of the automaker’s most luxurious and performance-oriented products well beyond the millennium. Lo is leaving Renault after a prolific decade of producing elegant prototypes like the Renault 5 Turbo-inspired Twin’Run and the DeZir, the design basis for the Renault RS.01 race car that later followed. Great designers handing the reins over to great designers — you love to see it.