You can't keep a good man down, or so the saying goes. The jury may still be out on whether Dany Bahar was a good thing for the automotive industry – with some portraying him as an overambitious opportunist and others pitting him as a genuine car guy against the bean-counters – but he's not about to stay down for long.
Bahar, for those unfamiliar, was a top executive at Red Bull, serving as right-hand man to Dietrich Mateschitz right around the time that the energy drink company was getting into Formula One and NASCAR. He was then poached by Ferrari to serve as its commercial chief and brand director before taking up the reins as CEO of Lotus. Things didn't go quite so well for him there after new owners fired him, accused him of misappropriating company funds and canceling just about every one of his ambitious (or perhaps overambitious) projects to take Lotus into the modern age. But now he's back on his feet.
According to Car and Driver, Bahar's new project is a tuning house and coachbuilder called Ares. Similar to an outfit like Mansory (with which Bahar, incidentally, fostered close ties while at Lotus), Ares is out to make high-end vehicles like the Range Rover Sport, Rolls-Royce Wraith and Lamborghini Huracán that much more unique. But the biggest project Ares is planning to undertake is to turn the Aston Martin Rapide S and Bentley Continental GT into shooting brakes for wealthy customers.
Ares wouldn't be the first outfit to do so, Bertone having made a wagon version of the Rapide and Touring having offered an extended-roof Continental. But to show he's not messing around, Bahar has assembled a top team at Ares. Wolf Zimmermann, who worked for Mercedes-AMG before becoming Bahar's R&D chief at Lotus, is handling the technical aspects. 24-year-old Romanian designer Mihai Panaitescu, who is said to have worked on those aborted Lotus projects, is handling the style aspect. And the whole outfit is being based in Modena, Italy – the city that is home to outfits like Pagani, Maserati and nearby Ferrari.
Predictably enough, Ares will launch initially in China, Russia and the Middle East, but reportedly plans to make it to the US sometime early next year.