We cross the concrete apron and start to walk the production line, if that’s the right word for a line of expensive cars that don’t move. We tune up on a couple of conventional projects, a Mercedes S-Class and V-Class that are in for wood, leather and connectivity improvements, and then we encounter one of Ares’ true stars, a Bentley ‘Brooklands 2’ long-door coupé that started life as a four-door Mulsanne saloon and still uses its wheelbase and seating package.
It’s beautiful; the more so if you’ve heard other designers explain how hard it is to make long coupes look right. Ares has orders for seven of these - at £640,000 a pop - and may do as many as 15. Suddenly, it’s easier to see how a £27m annual turnover can be earned...
Next up is a massive iteration of the Mercedes G63, reskinned in carbonfibre, which reduces weight by 200kg. It’s called the Ares Design X-Raid (but still registered and certified as a Merc G) and is priced similarly to the Bentley, although when you see it standing there, expensively clad in carbonfibre with its detached dashboard and trim showing the complexity of the interior work to come, the total job seems almost cheap.
Although Ares avoids full compliance testing like the plague, it encourages inspectors from Germany’s TUV standards agency to check its workmanship. This X-Raid has had a grand total of eight visits to verify its integrity and Bahar’s happy with that: TUV verification impresses registration authorities across Europe and in far-flung Australia and Japan.
We stroll on, past Ares’ vision of a Porsche 911 ‘GT3 Targa’, which offers a Targa’s open-air convenience but GT3 RS body details. This one has had extensive suspension changes, a power upgrade (470bhp to 580bhp), widened tracks, resculpted bumpers, a custom exhaust and centre-lock wheels and will set you back £300,000-plus, depending on spec.
Very decorative, highly modified Land Rover Defenders seem to be parked everywhere, mainly because Ares is in the process of building a 53-off batch for a British client, powered either by modified Rover V8s or by newer, supercharged Jaguar Land Rover V8s. Much of the under-skin engineering has been done by Coventry-based specialist JE Motor Works, whose founder and kingpin Jonathan Douglas happens to be present in Modena on separate engineering business.