Sticking with our Callum brothers theme today, Jaguar chose Chelsea in central London as the place to launch its new XJ last week. This big cat is what Jaguar's design boss Ian Callum calls a return to the values of Jaguar during the William Lyons era - to "produce the most exciting cars in the world". Callum, impressive and passionate, described the launch of this new car as a "tipping point for the Jaguar brand - one Britain should be proud of".
Tipping points are tricky to pinpoint and if I was asked what was tipping right now, I'd say it was luxury car sales - off a cliff. But Jaguar is buoyant and claims modest recent sales growth, while other makers universally tanked.
But while the wealthy car buyer is feeling rather less flush, he or she now has something entirely new to angst about. Despite looking from assorted angles like a Maserati Quattroporte, an XF, a Lexus SC (ouch), a Citroen C6, Granada Scorpio, Hillman Avenger and a Morris Marina Coupe, the Jaguar XJ is a quite lovely thing. In a great BBC TV moment this April, writer Michael Smith's documentary "Me and My Car" featured a scene where Smith sank into the passenger seat of a vintage Jag saloon and said "I'd like to get pissed in this car". Clearly Callum was listening. "People are gonna have a good time in a Jaguar" is his boast. I'd get pissed in the back of this car any day of the week.
The car's got some neat, really focused technology, too - without getting silly. As the great Jean Jennings said to us recently, "If it doesn't make me drive better, make it go away." All of the dash instruments on the XJ (the bit in front of the driver with the speedo, etc) are a screen, with the dials all digitally rendered. In demos it looked fantastic and it's a flexible place where info like where to turn left and what music is playing appears. It's also the place where prompts appear for the voice command features. This is infinitely preferable to putting that stuff in the centre console, as Joe and I had to endure recently in the nervous-breakdown-inducing Ford Sync system.
There's other cool stuff, too. A huge 'dual angle' video screen in the centre dash which can display two different images at the same time, with each appearing clearly to driver and passenger. Which is, well, just so much fun.
The body is aluminium, so is as light as its smaller, steel sister, the XF. The 3.0 V6 diesel is claimed to do more than 40 miles per gallon, gets to 60 mph in 6 seconds and emits 184 grams of CO2. Which is pretty impressive.
Jag has also focused on making the hi-fi sound really good. While recognising you will probably bring your iPod along. But it has a hard disc that rips CDs uncompressed and has a Gracenote database.
But back to those looks, which have thrown the cat amongst the pigeons. Although Jaguar has been saying for months that the new XJ was radical, no one was totally prepared for this long, fast-back look, complete with blacked-out D pillar and a rear end that marks a complete departure for Jaguar design.
There's an old adage which says never judge a car's design purely from photos; wait until you've seen it in the flesh, and even then - make sure you see it moving, on the road, and in traffic before you make a true call on the design. This is truly a design to which this applies. I sat at the launch breakfast on Friday morning riveted to the thing rotating in front of me, trying to decide whether it was beautiful. I've concluded that the XJ is quite a looker - with much less of the heavy, lumpiness around the rear three quarters than seems in the photos and with a rear haunch that does, as Callum claims, make it very coupe-like.
If you, too, fancy staring open mouthed at the thing revolving, you can watch this video I took. And below is a (car-nerd-level) outline by design director Ian Callum talking us through the design.
And if you still haven't made your mind up about whether that rump works or not, check out some of our detailed shots in this photoset (click anywhere on the photos to link through to the original flickr set):
Mark Charmer is a founder of The Movement Design Bureau, a think tank.