Dany BaharControversial former Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has returned to the sports car industry as chief investor behind a new Italian tuning house called Ares.

Car and Driver reports the new tuning and customisation firm will start out offering flashier versions of existing premium cars, such as the Bentley Continental GT and Range Rover Sport. Think Mansory, says the title.

But Bahar doesn’t plan to simply offer bodykits for Bentleys, it says: he has much bigger plans for Ares, and has taken former Lotus R&D man Wolf Zimmermann plus designer Mihai Panaitescu (who helped with much of the six-car Paris Motor Show 2010 concept extravaganza) with him to help realise these.

“There are a lot of new cars and new ideas that we already have in the pipeline, and Ares is also looking forward to building its own cars in the future,” Zimmermann told C&D.

Rather impressively, mooted projects already spoken of include shooting brake versions of the Aston Martin Rapide and Bentley Continental GT. A video reportedly shows a curious mid-engined supercar concept too.

Where is it based? Would you believe, in Modena…

Dany Bahar and Lotus

Dany-Bahar-Lotus

Dany Bahar’s time at Lotus was relatively brief but not without note. He started in 2009 and, by 2010, had formulated an ambitious five-car new model strategy, revealed to amazed hacks as the first press day of Paris Motor Show 2010 came to a close. Development was reportedly ambitious after that, with the Lotus Esprit evolving much quicker than many predicted, but it was Bahar’s combination of confidence in the future and dismissal of the past that meant many observers were wary.

He was dismissed in June 2012 for improperly using company funds and later took action against the firm for unfair dismissal, but his £6.7m claim was settled out of court earlier this year. Current CEO Jean-Marc Gales was appointed on 1 May this year, replacing Bahar’s successor, Aslam Farikullah. He will be hoping his time at Ares both proves less controversial and achieves some of the bold ambition he had planned for Lotus. One to watch.