Julian is a dyed-in-the-wool car enthusiast first, a prolific car designer second. The now iconic Lotus Elise S1 was his work, as was the Land Rover LRX, which went into production as the Evoque.
He started his career at Ford in the Eighties having graduated from The Royal College of Art. Following a stint at the VW/Audi design studio in Barcelona, Julian returned to the UK in 2000 to work for Jaguar, eventually becoming Design Director for the marque and overseeing every one of its current models, as well as the C-X75 concept car.
He’s more likely to buy a Quaife LSD than a black roll neck jumper and is just as happy in the grandstand at Santa Pod as mingling with the crowds at Pebble Beach. Julian is a keen classic car collector and he still owns the Ferrari Dino he bought 35 years ago using money he should have set aside for a house.
Julian left his position at Jaguar in 2021 and is now heading up General Motors’ European advanced design studio.
An Alfasud Ti, innovative not only for its boxer engine but because it recycled itself back to dust automatically
Ferrari F40. Never driven one, but a car so visceral it will forever keep alive your inner ‘school boy’
Shiro Nakamura, a lifelong friend. So creative yet so modest and his ego never overtook his love for the craft
"All I’ve ever wanted is to design cars: scribbling, colouring in and sculpting. The passion never goes away. With every year it gets better and better. New tastes, new technologies, new challenges – it’s a privilege to create a small bit of the future"
Reimagining an icon
What would the Lotus Elise designer change if he had his time again? Julian Thomson, creator of the original Elise, has done precisely that
All part of the plan
In carefree younger days, I was only properly happy when trying to scare the life out of myself. I’d motocross, glacier ski and microlight with a like-minded crowd, each of us trying...
Not in my portfolio
Geoff Lawson, a former Design Director of Jaguar, once compared our line of work to making movies: ‘Designing cars is like making a film – most of it ends up on the cutting-room floor...'
A day in the life
What do car designers actually do all day? I mean apart from itching in a black roll neck and posting photos of their new watch on Instagram. Here's what a typical working day...
Our Cars: Julian’s Dino
I’m not really sure what kids put on their bedroom walls these days. I suspect it’s a mix of computer game heroes, footballers and K-pop stars. But in the Seventies...
Drive what you draw
If you’re reading The Intercooler it's a pretty sure bet you’re into cars and driving. You no doubt have a dream garage in the back of your mind should your numbers come up...
Plus ça change…
My younger colleagues often ridicule me about just how long I’ve been a car designer. Did I carve out my designs on stone tablets? Were my earliest three-dimensional models made...