The V8 Engine Has a Future After All, Says Jaguar's Design Head

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
the v8 engine has a future after all says jaguar s design head

Ian Callum, the director of design at Jaguar, spoke recently at Coventry University’s National Transport Design Centre on various subjects related to the auto industry.

Callum, a Coventry University alumnus, touched on automotive history, autonomous vehicles, the buying process, even Jaguar itself.

Ian Callum also had something to say about the V8 engine, according to CAR Magazine.

Long live the Queen.

Long live the V8.

To begin with, says Callum, the age in which we live isn’t so different from the era in which Callum began his design education, way back in the early 1970s.

“In 1972 nobody wanted cars, because of the oil crisis,” Callum told his audience at Coventry University. “People had written them off. It was a difficult time to go into car design. Politicians had decided that the motor car had a short future and we would all be using public transport.”

The reasons may be different now than they were in 1972, but there is a rising tide of anti-car sentiment. There’s a fear among driving enthusiasts that autonomy will steal our steering wheels. There’s a concern that the constant search for incremental laboratory-measured fuel economy improvements will result in a dearth of naturally aspirated, large displacement engines.

Callum, Jaguar’s design boss for nearly two decades and the brother of Moray Callum, Ford’s vice president for design, isn’t denying the future.

“The process of autonomy is a given,” Callum says.

“When will that turning point be? In my opinion it will be sooner than a lot of people think,” Callum points out, suggesting that the car industry will lead while governments follow with infrastructure. It all sounds so electrified, so robotic, so uninvolving.

But, says Callum, “I think there will still be a place for V8s.”

Curiously enough, V8s form a small part of the Jaguar world, even in the traditionally V8-friendly United States. Three of five Jaguar nameplates don’t offer a V8. The overwhelming majority of Jaguar XJ sedans are selected with six cylinders; most F-Types are V6-engined, as well. (At Jaguar’s Land Rover partner, U.S. sales of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport in the first five months of 2017 included 5,944 V8-powered vehicles; another 11,868 with V6s.)

Perhaps this serves to explain Callum’s V8 theory. Jaguar’s design director believes there’s a place for V8s in the future due precisely to the anticipated rarity.

“Because there will be so few of them, the fuel they burn will be a drop in the ocean.”

You can have a V8. Just don’t let your neighbor get hold of one, too.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

Join the conversation
4 of 35 comments
  • Wumpus Wumpus on Jun 10, 2017

    I have to wonder what Jaguar sees in the V-8. I remember Jack's list of cylinder desirability. The V-8 stood out in that it made zero engineering sense, but made all kinds of sense to Americans who grew up on American muscle (or possibly knowing they were denied as much do to cars made in the malaise era). My point is wondering why in the world Jag wants anything to do with such engines. A V-12 belongs in a Jag. A straight 6 is the cheap and cheerful substitute (and supercharge it, please). There really isn't a point to a V-8, unless you want an insufficiently long hood on your Jag. [and yes, I'm the type of sucker who looks at the prices of an XF (v-8) and wonders how long the transmission will hold out].

    • See 1 previous
    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Jun 10, 2017

      @Jagboi The primary advantage of a V8 is the shorter crankshaft compared to an I8 or even a large I6 or V12. As an aside, I've occasionally wondered if something like a U6 would be feasible: two offset-crank I3s in a common block with staggered cylinders. Designing the head would certainly be an adventure.

  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Jun 10, 2017

    "The primary advantage of a V8 is the shorter crankshaft compared to an I8 or even a large I6 or V12." This. It's the most power in a reasonable footprint to fit in a car. My beef with modern V8s is that domestic designers and manufacturers are lazy in the pursuit of power, and simply add displacement to get it. The aluminum 6.0L in my V puts out 400 horsepower. A big number but, extrapolated downwards, is 100 HP from a 1.5L mill. Not really stupendous these days. I love BMW's 4.4L V8 with 315 HP. My 2006 Mustang can't make that with 4.6L. With modern technology and materials there is no reason why a 3.5L V8 can't produce 300 reliable horsepower.

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.