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Thu 5 Jun 2014 10:46 AM

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Supercar styling: A revival of the autohouse

Designers reveal what the trends are for those looking for a truly bespoke piece of wheels

Supercar styling: A revival of the autohouse

Gone are the days of extreme car modifications and superlative “Pimp my Ride” projects. Local autohouses and international car manufacturers alike are witnessing a clear shift in the buyers of the Middle East.

“The trend in the GCC is that once somebody comes up with something ‘fresh’, everybody will do it. Before it was the matte - the plain matte, the black matte - this is what was cool,” said Fekadu Michot, a local car collector and avid enthusiast. However, Michot pointed out that, like all trends, this soon faded when owners realised the matte design is nice when it new but it easily gets dirty and then lowers the value of the car.

“Then came the trend for the really shiny colours. You see lots of gold, copper foiled Rolls-Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris in the streets of the GCC. I’ve never seen this anywhere in the world, were people feel safe to mess with such cars. Here it’s all about the attention. But these are top of the line, top of the range luxury vehicles and in a few years, the foiling will start to bubble.”

According to Michot, the trend has moved towards earth colours that magnify the car’s exclusivity and maintains its high value.

Anna Louise Clough, Colour and Materials Designer at McLaren Automotive and one of the world’s leading supercar stylists, agreed with this observation. “What we have seen in the past from the Middle East in general is a really bold use of colour and a vision that puts turning heads as a priority,” said Clough.

“But now there are those who are returning to nature and tradition with a mix of brown and light sandy colours to produce a McLaren that is almost timeless and blends into the scenery. Customers from the region really know what they want and I have seen the influence of women to be very powerful.”

“One area that is of real interest is falconry; these magnificent birds have a colour scheme all of their own and I love designing McLarens along the same principles,” she adds.

Nowadays, when you see such elite cars in the body shops, it is most likely for a fine tuning and touch-ups rather than complete and stark changes in their appearance.

“Some people want to restyle their cars but if we take these high-end cars such as Bentleys and Range Rovers people want to keep their car as original as possible and keep it in this condition for as long as possible,” said Viacheslav Zatylkin, managing director at Mr.Cap’s.

Located in the depth of the maze-like streets of Al Quoz industrial area, Mr. Cap is a hidden jewel that can only be found if you’re in the know.

Parked in its two storey workshop is a smorgasbord of the most elite luxury cars in the GCC. From a Ferrari Enzo to a Mercedes C-class C63 AMG , Mr Cap’s client list is studded with members of the royal families and high profile business moguls.

“Our target segment is the upper echelon of society. This premiere segment is very demanding and their main concern is to take of their car,” says Zatylkin.

And these elite buyers are sparing no expense in ensuring that their car is continuously in tip top shape. The Swedish autohouse states that maintaining their car’s high value is the number one focus on their priority.

“Locals and Arabs are proud of their cars and it’s like a competition between them. They want their car to look brand new as long as possible.

“They want it to look more sparkling, more expensive and sexier. People here are now starting to worry that their car will be repainted because that already reduces the value. Design upgrades such as colouring of the rims or the logo and quality of mouldings are all done to add value without drastically changing the appearance of the car,” adds Zatylkin

The trend is shifting and it is very clear. Bright colours are out and high value is in. 

“In the Middle East people are more daring and sometimes the results are amazing. People are different and they find their own individuality in their cars. But I’ve been noticing that even if people choose to modify their cars, they do so through brand approved kits. It’s a big market now and it ensures the maintenance of the warranty while increasing the value and uniqueness of the car,” says Michot.

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