Dany Bahar, owner of Ares, has taken the concept of customizable to a whole new level. Until Bahar came along, wealthy people wishing to express their uniqueness through their possessions had to be satisfied with bespoke suits, handmade shoes, made-to-order watches, or custom-made shirts. To the joy of his clients, Dany Bahar allows them to build custom-made cars made to their unique, individualized specifications.
Bahar, born in Turkey and raised in Switzerland, and former head of Lotus, has discovered a market for made-to-order cars which plays on the growing cultural desire for people to express their individuality. As this desire grows in the general population, the world’s wealthiest people can afford to take it to ever greater heights.
Ares takes high-end luxury cars, such as Bugatti, and gives them a “real makeover,” but only on the outside, as Bahar explains:
“We don’t touch what Bugatti is famous for: the engine, gearbox, fantastic aerodynamics. We give it a new look that is whatever the client wants so it’s a Bugatti but covered with a different skin.”
Lest you think it’s “the same wine in a new bottle,” Dany Bahar says that is not the whole story, either.
“The client is fully involved and that is something really exciting,” says Bahar. “These clients are wealthy people, important people but you touch them on an emotional level, where they become like children. They say, ‘I want the rear lamp, like this, not like this’.
“Even if a client is buying a £2 million car they are really not that interested in how it works… as long as it’s fun to drive and it works. His concern is sitting in the car and enjoying the environment he has created on his own. To sit in these four small walls and to enjoy it and call it his own, designed by himself.”
Bahar likes to use sports cars as examples to explain the work he does, but in truth it is SUVs like Mercedes’ G-Wagon, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys that he sees as his major market, and not traditional two-seater racers.
As long as the market for custom-made products continues to dominate, and there are people with money ready to spend it to have what is essentially a “handmade car,” Ares and Dany Bahar have found a fascinatingly unique niche.