What Dany Bahar Did Next

Dany Bahar was always heading for a big comeback.  The former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, best…

Dany Bahar was always heading for a big comeback. 

Dany Bahar, best known for the five-model recovery plan that blew up a storm of controversy when launched in 2010, may have departed Hethel in a flurry of legal recriminations, but it was always clear Dany Bahar had too many friends and too much influence in the unfathomable world of cars for the super-rich for him merely to fade away.

Yet the size and scale of Dany Bahar’s comeback has surprised even the man himself. Today Dany Bahar is founder and CEO of a two-year-old Modena-based automotive design and engineering company, Ares, named for the Greek god of war. Its core business is improving “everything you see or touch” in super-luxury cars to make them more exclusive and distinctive than the original maker’s build processes could ever allow.


Most projects go to Middle Eastern or Asian clients, and the company has already delivered 120 of them.

The big secret, says Dany Bahar, is to cast the owner as the car’s creator, while giving him or her access to top-class designers to translate wishes into reality. Prices are high but not quite stratospheric, he says. A full-on redesign of a Range Rover interior in wood instead of leather – a four-week job – would set you back £75,000.

The entire recladding of an existing car in unique carbonfibre panels – an eight-month task – will likely carry a bill of £750,000. Really big jobs can go into seven figures.

Why Dany Bahar set the business up in Modena? Because set-up costs are lower than in Germany, the original target area, and there is also a “remarkable” talent pool there that contains most of Italy’s fast-car factories.

The company has moved to bigger premises once already, and will do it again before an official opening planned for September. In the meantime, there are plans, due to reach fruition in the next couple of weeks, to open a UK Ares showroom “in the Piccadilly area”.

For a business like this, Dany Bahar reckons you need headquarters in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Shanghai as well as the Modenese factory. “Clients in this bracket may visit the factory once,” says Dany Bahar, “but after that they want to go somewhere more convenient.”

The whole Ares proposition rests heavily on research Dany Bahar and his five or six backers (several from his core team at Lotus) carried out over the year or so they took fleshing out a new project. What they discovered was a whole strand of car consumers who can afford anything they want, often buying top-end cars at a rate of a dozen or more a year.

Ares’s very first customer, who paid early for extensive mods to a Bugatti Veyron and thus helped to finance the embryonic business, buys 150 super-expensive cars a year and currently commissions Ares cars by the dozen.

“What we’ve learned,” Dany Bahar explains, “is that the further you go up the price scale, the less people care about what’s underneath a bonnet. People buying cars at £100,000 to £200,000 usually do care about the mechanical bits, but those who are in the £1 million-plus bracket are really only bothered about what you see, feel and touch.”

Ares’s current projects prove this point, making it clear that super-rich car consumers are also very much motivated by impatience. When we spoke, Bahar and Co were on the point of delivering a Mercedes-Benz G63 (nicknamed G-Force) with its styling completely changed by a new set of carbonfibre outer panels.

The company also has a Rolls-Royce estate project on the go for September delivery (“The owner says the factory has been making promises for 10 years”) and there’s a full-size Bentley convertible under way (“Because the owner doesn’t want to wait the two and a half years it’ll take the company to launch its own version”).

Budget simply isn’t an issue, says Dany Bahar, apart from the fact that these are canny people who won’t wear senseless overcharging. But they can most definitely pay. “It’s the work they like, and the engagement,” says Dany Bahar. “Match one of these people up with a professional designer whose only mission is to bring their desires to life and you can see how much they enjoy it. It’s something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Dany Bahar cites three “enormous” advantages of this business, compared with the manufacture of a unique, low-volume car, which is what he began to contemplate when, with half a dozen close colleagues, he first eyed life after LT.

“We don’t have to deal with the manufacturer,” Dany Bahar says. “We don’t get involved with car legislation because we don’t change anything structural. We don’t have to do any brand-building because Ares isn’t a car brand. We need our good reputation, for sure, but that’s something we can build by pleasing our customers. Give these people what they’re seeking and they’re with you for good.”

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Exclusive Interview With Dany Bahar, Co-Founder Of ARES Design Modena

Based in Northern Italy, ARES Design Modena is a luxury automotive atelier specialising in bespoke engineering, and the design and interior modification of high-performance cars. SW caught up Dany Bahar, the…


Based in Northern Italy, ARES Design Modena is a luxury automotive atelier specialising in bespoke engineering, and the design and interior modification of high-performance cars. SW caught up Dany Bahar, the brainchild of the business, to find out more.

LM: What are your career highlights to date?


Dany Bahar: I wouldn’t say there was one particular highlight. Conversely, I’d say my highlights are the mistakes I’ve made and learnings from them. I have been learning from my early career to my time at Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, and now at ARES. At the end of the day, the highlights for me would always be doing better and the enjoyment of doing what I do.


LM: Why did you decide to establish ARES Design, what is the meaning behind the name, and why did you choose the ancient Greek god of war’s helmet for your logo?


Dany Bahar: After working at Lotus, some colleagues and my long-term business partner Waleed Al-Ghafari decided to work on a project for ourselves, rather than working for a large corporation again. So, we set out to do something very particular – to cater to individuals that require the ultimate in bespoke vehicles.


This was an area that we felt was not properly addressed by the OEMs, and never would be for many reasons, such as production processes, procedure restrictions and costs etc.


Therefore, we thought that a small, flexible and dynamic company which could take into consideration the sophisticated needs of high-level clientele, who had already seen and experienced everything in car design, would give us a really unique market offering and positioning, which would ultimately translate into a business.


And that was six years ago, and today we are a company with around 150 people, generating €30 million in turnover per annum, and growing year-on-year by 20%.


In fact, the name ARES Design followed the logo. We thought that, by creating such a company, it would cause disruption in the market, and so firstly, we chose the helmet to protect ourselves! It was as simple as that. The next logical step was for us to find a name that was associated with the helmet, and we found it in ARES, which stems from Greek mythology – the god of war!


LM: What was the rationale for choosing the outskirts of Modena as the location for your headquarters?


Dany Bahar: It was a very egotistical reason. My colleagues and I had lived in the region before and were used to it; we knew the people and suppliers, which ultimately provided us with a head start to set up our operations in Modena. It saved us time, and we were looking at a similar area in Stuttgart, Germany, but it would have taken us too long to establish ourselves.


Also, when producing luxury products, it’s nice to have the ‘Made in Italy’ tag as well, and we definitely made the right choice. Modena is still an excellent region for automotive production, and this is why Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini and a big eco supplier system are still based here.



LM: What are ARES Design’s USPs when comparing your business with the competition?


Dany Bahar: We have many competitors, and what we do is nothing new. Coachbuilding has been done for the past 100 years or so. I believe we have lots of small competitors who have decided to do one car and one model, with a workforce of about 20 to 50 people, and who commercialise it as much as possible. But, where I think we differ is how we operate, and the direction in which the company is going. Ultimately, we will be an independent small car manufacturer one day.


At ARES Design, we undertake all the necessary steps to design, develop and manufacture a car in-house with a workforce of 150 people in a 23,000 square-metre facility. As yet, I am not aware of any competitor in the coachbuilding scene operating on that scale or with the same objectives. I believe we are unique in that sense.


So, there are competitors from a product perspective, but not from a company point of view. However, this could change over time, and maybe tomorrow we will have one!


LM: You are about to secure your final round of funding, taking investment in your business to €60 million. Will you be using this money to expand into other markets, such as China and the US?


Dany Bahar: Yes. Absolutely. The final step of expansion is going into the two biggest markets, the USA and Asia, which are alongside investments into the expansion of our product line-up and factory.


We are using our investment, as we have done in the past, in three main areas: product development, factory expansion – buildings, assembly space, machinery, tooling and technology, which will enable us to be in line with homologation and legal requirements, and thirdly, distribution – opening showrooms.


ARES doesn’t have an independently financed dealer network. We have our own showrooms, so that way we can ensure that the customer has a full and exceptional experience. This spans from the design and manufacturing in Italy, through to the delivery of their vehicle anywhere in the world.


We have a very big expansion plan in the next 24 months; we are going to open showrooms in central Europe, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and Monaco, followed by the US, and we also have a very detailed plan for China.



LM: Who is your target audience, and do your customers come from across the globe?


Dany Bahar: Ironically, our leading customer group to date is mainly Europeans or customers that keep their cars in Europe; not necessarily just Europeans, but this will no doubt change as we expand into new territories.


Where our price point is set, upwards of €500,000, we fit within the affordable luxury bracket, and therefore our products are not just for the super-rich. We have a lot of customers who are successful lawyers, managers, and of course, entrepreneurs. In part, this is why we want to keep this honest pricing position, so our cars are affordable to not only the very rich but are also accessible to wider affluent groups and lucky individuals



LM: Are the possibilities endless when a client approaches you to customise a car, or is there a limit to what can be realistically achieved?


Dany Bahar: No. Of course, there are limits; these are set by homologation, safety and technical regulations, which differ from country to country. But, from a creative point of view, the possibilities are endless.

This is where ARES’ main USP lies compared to other OEMs: we do not have to consider existing manufacturing processes and procedures or the use of common parts of existing cars – we can create a product from scratch in order to satisfy the customers’ needs. As long as they don’t have any technical or legal limitations, the sky’s the limit!


LM: What impact has the Coronavirus had on your business, and how have you had to adapt it to keep clients and staff safe?


Dany Bahar: When we returned to work last month, we were down about 30% on our annual productivity, but we will have recovered this deficit by the end of August. Obviously, our employees’ health is the priority, and we implemented wide-ranging measures to ensure their wellbeing.

These include, amongst others, temperatures being taken on arrival to work, the wearing of masks and gloves, limited personnel in communal areas, the regular sanitisation of workspaces, highlighted routes, and dedicated entry and exit points to the building. We are now getting used to the new working environment, and we all just pleased to be back at work.



LM: The Panther ProgettoUno was the first model to emerge from your Legends Reborn programme. What can we expect next?


Dany Bahar: ARES is at a very important phase of its young age. We need to remember we are only five years old and are still a baby company learning to walk. What we can see in this short time is that, due to the customers’ demands, ARES’ products groups have changed and evolved more and more; from taking inspiration from iconic cars of the past to having its own identity for future products.


The company will shortly be revealing its very first “own design” supercar, which will appeal to many people we hope. We are moving in the direction of becoming a small car manufacturer with our own design identity, but notwithstanding that, we will always know where we have evolved from and have respect for our Legends Reborn programme.




LM: How would you define luxury, and what are your luxuries in life?


Dany Bahar: There are two types of luxury in life, which are namely a luxury lifestyle and personal luxury. From a professional standpoint, luxury to me is represented by goods and the privilege to be able to purchase those goods and to live a certain lifestyle. Personally, for me, in the last three years, and probably the next two, it is simply ‘time’. Time is always the luxury I am chasing, and I am still one step behind. However, I’m confident I’ll get there in the end!

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Dany Bahar, the Marketing Genius

Many may have heard the term marketing gurus. These are specialists in the marketing field dedicated to bringing a change through their work and their unique perspective and philosophy regarding marketing. Dany Bahar is one such marketing guru or marketing genius. He is currently owner to Ares but Dany Bahar has contributed a lot of his work in the industry in the past. He has promoted globally renowned brands in his life which is no easy feat. He seems to have talent for marketing rather than just having the skills.

Had it not been Bahar and his “marketing genius” talent, RedBull and Ferrari would not have been so globally renowned today. When RedBull snagged Dany Bahar up in 2005, he was already practicing his career in sports marketing, but he did not just deliver his work like he previously did – he actually managed to make RedBull a globally recognized brand.

After RedBull, Dany Bahar moved to Ferrari in 2007, becoming their Senior VP for the Commercial and Brand deparment and his work – or maybe talent – developed Ferrari as a world class name too. Ferrari and RedBull both owe a lot of their success to the marketing genius, who is Dany Bahar.

Now the marketing genius owns his own company, Ares, which is an Italian tuning firm – the company already is off to a promising start. This, of course, is no surprise; with a founder who is a marketing genius, nothing less could be expected from Dany Bahar’s company.

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Strategies Dany Bahar Works By

Every good marketer and entrepreneur has strategies that they try to implement in order to achieve success. Dany Bahar, being both, a highly successful marketer and a promising entrepreneur, also has strategies and techniques that he likes to work by. These strategies are probably the reason behind making the name of Dany Bahar so renowned in the field of business. Dany Bahar has been subject to many interviews that have revealed a lot of his strategies that make him who he is today.

To relate some of the major strategies Dany Bahar works by, the foremost one is definitely the fact that he uses failures as chances to step higher. This is a rather clichéd strategy but not many implement it; Bahar does. The proof of this is seeing how he took RedBull from a medium to an ultimate high. Another strategy he works by is prioritizing. He stated in an interview that prioritizing is key and many entrepreneurs overlook it. If only they prioritized their work, everything would be a lot more functional. We can safely assume Bahar is doing a lot of prioritizing for Ares! And lastly is his most famous brand marketing strategy: Make the brand influence people rather than let the people influence the brand. This is a strong strategy and effective too, seeing Dany Bahar’s success in brand marketing. People who look up to Dany will definitely benefit if they attempt to follow up on the strategies he uses.

Additionally, above all else, Dany Bahar believes in a unique approach to everything. Looking at things from a different perspective is an effective way of marketing and entrepreneurship. The market needs diversity and Dany Bahar manages to provide that and so much more with all his strategies.

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The Beginning of the Marketing Genius: Dany Bahar

Dany Bahar is famous all over the world for his work in the field of business. He is a brand marketer and his work has been described as “anything he touches, turns to gold” which is an apt description, seeing the success Dany Bahar has seen. He has an education in finance and marketing, but unlike so many who earn education in these fields too, Dany Bahar actually managed to make it to the top and is now known as a marketing genius and guru.

Every successful person has a “first big break” – that moment when success enters their life. So does Dany Bahar, although he actually has two first big breaks. One was when he saw the chance and persuaded Benetton to back a sponsorship investment for a marathon and that proved to be a huge success. The other was when he Fritz Kaiser took him for his wealth management company and Dany Bahar moved to Lichtenstein to work for Fritz. His work there delivered him into the Formula 1 industry and he also got within reach of the co-founder of Red Bull. Both these events are turning points toward success in Bahar’s life.

Working for RedBull, Dany Bahar made one of his biggest achievements by managing to take RedBull to an international level. In 2007, he did somewhat the same for Ferrari by creating another division within the company, which proved to make Ferrari famous worldwide. These are by far his biggest achievements but they happened because of his hard work, endeavors, and right decisions early on in life.

Right from the start he has been off on a good foot. This is not because of luck or miracles but because of his hard work. Many use the story of Dany Bahar as an inspiration and many thriving marketers follow his lead.

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