Dream Machines

Words by Chris Anderson

3 min read

Why wait for your idea of the ultimate car to come to market? Ares Design will enhance your existing wheels any way you like — the only limits are your imagination and your bank balance.

Modena, a small town in the north of Italy, is famous for its motoring heritage. The home of Ferrari and Lamborghini, this is where many luxury cars are born, in a celebration of the finest design and performance on the planet. But in recent months, vehicles of the same standard are also coming to the Middle East to be taken apart: restyled, re-trimmed and rebuilt, and in some cases totally unrecognisable when they finally leave. This is all thanks to Modena’s newest resident, Ares Design.

So, is there any reason why a company should be named after Ares, the Greek god of war? “We’re at war with mediocrity,” smiles Ares Design founder and CEO Dany Bahar, who sits in his office at the heart of 18,000 metres squared factory — a converted Fiat dealership — housing production lines featuring an array of cars in various stages of completion, from Porsches to Bentleys. “We haven’t invented this [idea],” he concedes, and he might cite the likes of David Brown Automotive, similarly new on the block, or the long tradition of custom building in the US, culminating in the work of Troy Ladd’s Hollywood Hotrods and the likes of its Mulholland Speedster. “Other companies choose to modify cars. But no one else is doing it on this scale.”

The Ares work space can be likened to a laboratory

The factory itself does not feel industrial, more clinical. Painted white, it’s compared by Dany to a laboratory, with huge windows allowing the curious to see what cars are coming through next. Elsewhere in the building are design studios, 3D printing workshops and areas for painting, trimming and carbon fibre.

Before Ares Design, Dany was the CEO of Lotus. He has worked at Red Bull and Ferrari, but he always saw potential in the high-end customisation market. With the help of partners and shareholders in Dubai — where Dany lives with his family and commutes to Modena from, and where Ares Design has a showroom — his vision took shape. The company launched in 2014, with the factory opening in January this year. It’s a case of so far, so good.

“Our customisation business is going well,” says Dany, pointing to a four-door Bentley Mulsanne, currently being converted into a two-door model, which is inevitable with modern culture’s growing emphasis on individuality and a concomitant consumer desire for the one-off piece. “But there are other sides to what we do. One is to take a classic car, like a Corvette Stingray from the 1960s, and give it the technology, engine and so on, from a model of today.

From first sketch to final interior, Ares overhauls the entire vehicle

Everything looks as it was, but it’s a modern car to drive. That market is huge. But we can also build a completely new car body, our own design, inspired by a classic, built onto an existing chassis. The Ares Pantera, for example, is based on a 1970s Argentinian sports car, with a Lamborghini Huracán serving as the donor car.” Say that again slowly: Lamborghini, donor car. If you can put ‘Lamborghini’ and ‘donor car’ in the same sentence, it offers an insight into the amount customers are spending. Some may even pop in for an entire fleet of modified Land Rover

Defenders, for example, as one client recently did. There is already talk of expansion. Not only more facilities for the factory but additional showrooms around the world, and even boats and motorbikes as a next step. Ares Design has not just launched a war on mediocrity: this promises to be a massacre.


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