If any new car design could make your knees go weak, it would have to be Jaguar’s gorgeous new F-Type two-seater convertible.
But that’s just the latest model in the portfolio of Wayne J. Burgess, whose task as Jaguar Cars’ studio director is to manage the design team that creates all of the company’s production vehicles. It’s a position he achieved after working with most of Britain’s prestigious auto companies — and one very utilitarian one.
“I learned that I could draw well at a young age,” says the 43-year-old designer. “I have a memory of going to see Walt Disney’s Robin Hood when I was 4 or 5 years old, and I drew all the characters. My father said, ‘Who drew these?’ and I said, ‘me.’ It upset me that he said they were too good for me to have drawn them.
“From that point on, I was drawing all the time. Rolls-Royce and Bentley were based not far away, and that was my point of reference. I was designing Rolls-Royces and Bentleys when I was 6 years old, and that’s how it started.”
Since he wasn’t sure how to get into the field, he studied art and design at school with the intention of becoming an architect. One of his tutors mentioned a transportation design course at Coventry University, and Burgess ended up there. “Had that not happened, I may have been an architect or a rock star.” he says.
Rock star? Yes, music is Burgess’ other passion, and he’s the lead guitarist for the heavy metal band Scattering Ashes.
“I’d describe it as semi-professional,” he says. “We have an album on iTunes, and we do one or two gigs a month in small-capacity clubs.”
When Burgess was fresh out of school in 1992, Britain faced a recession that hit the auto companies hard. After three months, his only interview was with London Taxi International.
“I thought I was way too good to work at a taxi design,” he says. “I was going to work for Ferrari immediately. But I realized that wasn’t going to happen, and, out of desperation, I went back to (London Taxi) and they took me on right away.”
He designed the exterior and interior of the TX1, London’s famous black cab.
“For (only) the second time in their history, they were making a new taxi. Now, in hindsight, I realize what an opportunity it was, because it has become London cultural history,” Burgess says. “So now I’m proud that I was associated with it, because of what it’s become. But, at the time, I was grumpy, because I was there and not at Ferrari.”
Following that iconic design, Burgess worked for a variety of automakers, including Honda and the Austin Rover Group.
“Ironically, I got sent back to Crewe and worked at Rolls-Royce and Bentley, doing the exterior for the Bentley Arnage,” he says. “That’s what I was doing when I got an interview with Jaguar in late 1997.”
Ian Callum, who was the joint design director of Jaguar and Aston Martin, had Burgess designing for both. Today, Callum is Jaguar’s overall design director, while Burgess refers to himself as Callum’s “left-hand man.”
“I’m not designing as much as before,” he says. “I’m in a guiding, mentoring, shaping role, but occasionally I get the opportunity to sketch. If I’ve got a good idea, I say we should try this, but it’s a collaborative effort. I negotiate with engineering teams to deliver the proportions, and I’m a diplomat as well as a designer.”
His major challenge today is designing cars that look good while meeting safety regulations.
“I’ve noticed in recent years how much is placed on pedestrian safety,” he says. “Fifteen to 20 years ago, it was airbags, but nowadays we spend a lot of time thinking of ways to save pedestrians, such as pyrotechnic bonnets (hoods), where the front throws pedestrians away, rather than going over the car.
“Plus there’s the cost of ownership, minimizing damage so that if (the driver) hits the bumper, they don’t also hit the lights. Part of the challenge is to deliver cars that look shrink-wrapped around the mechanicals, but have the protection.”
His 15 years at Jaguar mark his longest time with any company.
“I’ve always loved the products, and they’ve always given me interesting products to work on, with more responsibility,” he says. “I really enjoy growing with the company, and I’ve made the time investment. I no longer care about working for Ferrari.”
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
- You can unsubscribe at any time. Please Contact Us for details.
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STAR'S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X