Made to measure motoring: behind the scenes at Ares coachbuilding | CAR Magazine

Made to measure motoring: behind the scenes at Ares coachbuilding

Published: 03 July 2018

► Brainchild of ex-Lotus CEO Dany Bahar
► Not a car manufacturer
► A growing business

If you have ever hankered after a classic car but can’t be doing with all the oily bits, clunky gear changes, indifferent ride and dynamics then Dany Bahar’s Ares operation on the outskirts of Modena might have the answer for you.

Mind you, you will still need to buy a donor car and have a spare £500, – £600,000 in your bank account to pay for the work to be done.

The former Lotus CEO, established Ares – the Greek god of war in case you didn’t know – after departing Hethel to provide the well-heeled with a service to create their own tailor-made cars.

De Tomaso Pantera

Ares is about to embark on building a series of re-imagined De Tomaso Panteras based on a Lamborghini Huracan; the original idea stemmed from an enthusiast who had four of the 1970s supercars, but wanted a modern version with all the modern technology taken for granted in a contemporary car.

To ensure the car bears more than a passing resemblance to the original the ‘A’ pillar was cantilevered back nearly four inches whilst retaining the original heel point, which had the knock-on effect of marginally improving head room. All-new carbon fibre body panels shaves 100kg off the Huracan’s kerb weight, and remapping the ECU increases power 47bhp.

The interior has also been re-trimmed to reflect the car’s heritage. Unlike some conversions, the Ares re-imagined classics come with full TUV approval and a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty plus what Bahar describes as a ‘Flying Doctor service that can be at the customer’s house or dealership within 24 hours to solve any issues with the car.

What’s next?

Ares has some 15 project cars in the pipeline until the end of 2019 including a Ferrari 412 built on GTC4 Lusso underpinnings, a 1960s Maserati and a 964 Targa incorporating 997 mechanicals. But it’s not just cars; Ares has re-imagined the classic English café racer from the 1960s based on BMW R nine T running gear.

Whilst Ares is registered as a car manufacturer, Bahar doesn’t particularly want to go down that road, insisting that it will simply help if there are any homologation issues with an existing car or give them the ability to build its own chassis. He even talks about developing an engine in house for production by a third party.

The Defender, remixed

Ares is also offering its take on the venerable Defender with two engine options: a 4.7-litre version of JLR’s own V8 producing 278hp and 325 ft lbs and a supercharged 469bhp and 479 ft lbs of torque version both with a six-speed auto.

Bespoke progressive rate springs increase the ride height, 75mm for the naturally aspirated model and 50mm for the supercharged version, teamed with Fox high-pressure dampers. AP Racing front brakes featuring 362x32mm discs and six-piston AP calipers complete the specification with a set of ARES 18-inch wheels with 305/70 R18 Cooper tyres.

A brief off-road session highlighted a few issues; despite its grunt the throttle was too sharp for really smooth driving, whilst the smaller wheel made heavy work of steering both off- and on-road; you could feel the chunky tyres squirming on the tread blocks.

Just 53 will be built in the coming months, but you had better be quick to get your order in – one customer has already snapped more than half of them.

By Ian Adcock

CAR's engineering whizz, making sense of oily bits and megabytes