• There is a historical past in Italy of companies corresponding to Scaglietti and Pininfarina rebodying Corvettes, and Ares of Modena is the most recent, utilizing a C8 to create the S1 coupe.
  • Ares has been round since 2014 and has beforehand created limited-edition automobiles based mostly on autos from Bentley, Land Rover, Mercedes, Porsche—even Tesla.
  • The Ares S1 will probably be in-built a restricted version of 24.

Lots of the most unique automotive manufacturers have origin tales of passion-wracked artisans laboring to attain automotive perfection. However there has at all times been a powerful aspect of each brutality and butchery to hand-built carmaking, particularly when an present automotive should shed one set of bodywork with the intention to obtain one other. Which is why the brand-new C8 Corvette Stingray parked at one finish of the gleaming Ares manufacturing facility in Modena, Italy, on the day of our go to is as doomed as a pig standing subsequent to a slaughterhouse.

Most likely happily, we did not expertise the emotional trauma of seeing and listening to the air chisels at work. Ares is constructing simply two dozen of the C8 Corvette–based mostly S1 coupe, so the automobiles transfer with bureaucratic slowness by way of the manufacturing facility.

Our go to provided a straight before-and-after juxtaposition. On one aspect: a gleaming crimson Stingray with the Z51 efficiency pack, seats nonetheless wrapped in protecting plastic and looking out able to change into any individual’s dream automotive. On the opposite: a literal cutaway, the earlier Vette in line having been lowered to its core construction of flooring, firewall, and chassis, though with engine and suspension elements nonetheless in place, its sawn-off A-pillars raised like stubby fists interesting for justice.

ares s1 assembly

Ares S1 meeting

Mike Duff|Automotive and Driver

Ares does promote the salvageable elements to scale back prices; if you happen to’re in search of a C8 headlight or door mirror in Italy, they should be the go-to guys. It nonetheless appears like an act of sacrilege.

But it is an concept with an extended historical past. The thought of a rebodied Corvette has been round for practically so long as the Corvette, with among the most interesting having come from Italy. In 1959, Carroll Shelby, and fellow Texan racers Jim Corridor and Gary Laughlin organized to have a 3 bare C1 chassis shipped throughout the Atlantic to Carrozzeria Scaglietti, the well-known physique store sending again a trio of Ferrari-like coupes. In 1963, Common Motors went so far as commissioning Pininfarina to rebody a C2 to look extra European; the elegant restyling was performed by a younger Tom Tjaarda, though the automotive remained a one-off.

Dany Bahar, Ex-Lotus, Is Ares’s Founder

You won’t have heard of Ares, however you may most likely acknowledge the title of its founder. Dany Bahar is the Turkish-Swiss onetime boss of Lotus, whose tenure on the British sports-car maker will perpetually carry the descriptor “controversial.” Bahar was the person behind Lotus’s presentation of no fewer than 5 new fashions on the 2010 Paris auto present, none of which ever made manufacturing, and his reign got here to an acrimonious finish in 2012. Bahar and Lotus subsequently sued one another after he had been fired, however a settlement was reached earlier than both case obtained to trial.

dany bahar

“I discovered quite a bit from that point,” admits Bahar after we converse in his huge workplace. He’s fractionally grayer however nonetheless seems to be remarkably youthful for any individual approaching his 52nd birthday. “I discovered that phrases will not be value something within the company world, that the whole lot must be in writing.”

Bahar established Ares in 2014 in Modena with enterprise accomplice Waleed Al Ghafari. It was began as an upmarket modification enterprise to assist the rich understand outlandish goals, initially doing work just like firms corresponding to Mansory which have lengthy counted on the cash-rich, taste-poor demographic. However Ares rapidly moved past paint, trim, and outrageous physique kits. It started enterprise extra substantial modifications, creating restricted runs of fashions however maintaining the core mechanical elements of the automobiles they have been based mostly on.

ares bentley mulsanne coupe

Ares Bentley Mulsanne coupe.

Ares Modena

These have included a Targa model of the Porsche 911 GT3 and a two-door Bentley Mulsanne coupe which, when seen up shut, actually does really feel indistinguishable from a factory-built automotive. There have been butched-up variations of each the basic Land Rover Defender and Mercedes G-class, and even cabriolet and station wagon conversions of the Tesla Mannequin S. Bahar admits to discovering it tough to say no to buyer requests.

ares land rover defender

Ares Land Rover Defender.


Panther Undertaking One

Probably the most spectacular early venture was the Panther ProgettoUno (“Undertaking One”) a Lamborghini Huracán remodeled into what’s successfully a contemporary tackle the De Tomaso Pantera. This options the choice of an H-pattern gear shifter to regulate its dual-clutch gearbox, though sadly not one which replicates a guide—as a substitute it simply assigns Park, Reverse, Impartial, Drive and guide up/downshift to the totally different positions.

ares panther

However the Ares S1 is far more formidable, with a run of coupes to be adopted by roadsters, and critical work is critical to remodel the American sports activities automotive right into a pseudo-hypercar. The meeting bays in Modena present the method: After the C8 is shorn of its bodywork, a brand new steel sub-structure is added, and carbon-fiber panels are affixed. The common C8’s doorways are changed with butterfly hinged models (a hypercar should), and the cabin is redesigned and re-trimmed. One of many S1’s most hanging design particulars is the exhausts that exit by way of the engine’s prime cowl, one thing that required important re-plumbing within the engine compartment.

“The S1 has real celebrity presence. Up shut, it seems to be like one million {dollars}. Which is lucky, as a result of it prices barely greater than that.”

ares s1


Chances are you’ll be feeling cynical, however the S1 has real celebrity presence. Up shut, it seems to be like one million {dollars}. Which is lucky, as a result of it prices barely greater than that. There was an suave inexactitude on pricing among the many Ares staff we spoke to. The S1 may be subjected to the kind of bespoke customization that will get consumers striving for distinctive Pantone numbers and uncommon animal skins. However the information is one million Euro to start out, so simply over $1 million.

Some excellent news: Because the S1 relies on an present automotive, it bypasses lots of the type-approval pitfalls that always snare limited-run efficiency automobiles. We’re instructed a number of S1s have already got been bought to consumers within the States.

ares s1


The Design Simply Works

Even realizing there is a Corvette beneath, the S1 nonetheless works as a bit of design. The common C8 can really feel like a reluctant alliance of traces and angles, none of which conceal the automotive’s huge bones. However Ares has managed to wrap the identical onerous factors in smooth, muscular curves that each appear to reference quite a few supercars whereas nonetheless showing contemporary and authentic.

The swoopy new exterior has introduced important compromises, although, the obvious from the second you attempt to entry the S1’s cabin. For anyone a lot over six ft in top, this may seemingly be a brief skirmish adopted by give up—they merely is not going to match. As an on-the-line six-footer, your reporter discovered it obligatory to maneuver the driving force’s seat into its lowest and most reclined place simply to get my higher physique in, and that also left my hair touching the roof as soon as the heavy door was pulled closed. The seats have been retrimmed and given Ares logos, however the authentic Corvette frames sit beneath. The corporate says it’s engaged on a much-needed reducing equipment.

It appears like making an attempt to drive an expensive pillbox, with a rearview digicam system in lieu of any glass on the again; its picture seems on the brand new heart display. The S1’s cabin loses the mountainous ridge of switchgear that separates driver and passenger within the C8, and it additionally has an entirely revised digital instrument cluster. Among the many finely stitched leather-based there are nonetheless loads of recognizable Corvette elements, together with the transmission controls and steering wheel, the latter recovered and bearing the Ares Trojan helmet brand.

There’s additionally theater. There is a digital show in entrance of the passenger, a characteristic impressed by bluer-blooded supercars such because the Ferrari 296GTB and Lamborghini Revuelto. Within the S1 demonstrator, one among these digital bars reporting on dynamic standing was marked “4WS,” which was stunning as a result of the C8 does not have four-wheel steering, and due to this fact neither does the Ares.

Mechanical modifications are very slight. When the automotive was first introduced, Ares claimed it could make 715 horsepower, however that quantity has since been lowered to a significantly much less thrilling 530 horsepower, which is simply 35 hp greater than the common Stingray—attributable to a brand new ECU and the freer-flowing exhaust. Extra important is the claimed 550-pound weight reduction because of the carbon-fiber bodywork. Regardless of that, the engineering workforce mentioned the suspension elements and most settings are unchanged past geometry tweaks. (All S1 donor Stingrays have each the Z51 package deal and elective magnetorheological adaptive dampers.)

As a automotive designed explicitly for these prioritizing present over go, the S1’s driving expertise is each bit pretty much as good because it must be. But it surely’s additionally not particularly good. The Ares is noticeably much less composed than the common C8, with the mixture of weight financial savings and the unchanged suspension which means it now feels stiff and overdamped at decrease speeds. Even with the adaptive dampers of their softest setting—the unique Tour mode has been given an Italian rebranding as Strada—there’s nonetheless noticeable upward deflection over bumps the common Stingray would be capable of digest utilizing its suspension journey. The S1’s steering has change into extra anemic, too—nonetheless quick geared and delivering eager entrance finish responses, however mild and devoid of sensation.

ares s1


Feels Extra Potent Than the Corvette

There are pluses. The improved power-to-weight ratio means the S1 feels stronger than the Corvette, particularly when requested to speed up from low revs. The brand new exhaust delivers a raspy soundtrack when pushed onerous, however not an particularly loud one. Not that it may be pushed any tougher than the Stingray, with the pushrod LT2’s unchanged 6500-rpm redline positively unworthy of one thing making an attempt to appear like an unobtainium-grade hypercar.

But Ares possesses a refreshing honesty about each its automobiles and its prospects. “Our prospects hardly ever ask ‘How a lot?'” says Bahar. “It’s a query that does not apply . . . We’re by no means promoting a primary automotive, we’re promoting to individuals who usually personal 20-plus automobiles. We’re by no means the primary venture, by no means an important automotive, we’re an add-on, one thing utterly totally different—the final youngster, if you’ll.”

Cynics may see a automotive concentrating on individuals who have already got so many actual supercars that now they need a pretend one, however Bahar is true that exclusivity is a strong pressure on the sharpest finish of the automotive market.

Ferrari is about to make practically 1400 of its limited-run SF90 between coupe and spider variations, volumes that make an actual threat that consumers will face the indignity of finally having to park subsequent to a different instance.

It’s onerous to think about any Ares S1 struggling that destiny.

Headshot of Mike Duff

Senior European Correspondent

Our man on the opposite aspect of the pond, Mike Duff lives in Britain however studies from throughout Europe, generally past. He has beforehand held workers roles on U.Okay. titles together with CAR, Autocar, and evo, however his personal automotive tastes have a tendency towards the Germanic: he owns each a difficult 987-generation Porsche Cayman S and a Mercedes 190E 2.5-16.



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