Car designer looking to bring back craft of coachbuilding

A car designer is aiming to bring back British coachbuilding and fly the flag for British design and engineering.

Top gear: Afzal Kahn at the Kahn Design showroom in Bradford stood next to an Aston Martin that his firm designed. Picture: bruce rollinson

Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Afzal Kahn will be exhibiting a convertible version of a special one-off Aston Martin, that he designed with the approval of the car manufacturer, at the Geneva Motor Show.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Kahn said: “Coachbuilding for me is very important because in Great Britain we don’t really have any coachbuilders who have built a brand. We did back in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s but they’ve sort of disappeared. That’s where my direction is. To go towards coachbuilding. Hopefully, over the next ten years you will see some interesting cars coming from our business.”

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Last year, the firm unveiled the Aston Martin ‘Vengeance by Kahn’ and now will be premiering a convertible version of the car, the ‘Vengeance Volante’, at the Geneva Motor Show. Kahn Design will also be displaying its subsidiary brand Chelsea Truck Company.

Top gear: Afzal Kahn at the Kahn Design showroom in Bradford stood next to an Aston Martin that his firm designed. Picture: bruce rollinson

Mr Kahn says that the show is a “key part” of the motoring industry. “It’s something that in our business we must do,” he said. “That’s the show where people take you seriously.”

He added that there were only really two British brands going to Geneva. “We kind of go to represent Great Britain. That’s what it is all about,” said Mr Kahn.

The entrepreneur from Bradford says his business flies the British flag “strongly”.

“I don’t think a lot of people know this because I’m sat in Bradford,” he said.

Top gear: Afzal Kahn at the Kahn Design showroom in Bradford stood next to an Aston Martin that his firm designed. Picture: bruce rollinson

Mr Kahn hopes that other British designers will follow suit in bringing back the art of coachbuilding cars.

He added: “Investing in British industry is one of the slogans I use in all my brands. It’s sad to see that most of our car manufacturers have sold out to foreign investment such as Bentley, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce.

“It’s sad to see that because they were our trophy brands representing Great Britain.

“I was born and bred here. It’s important to me that we put our flag back down in Great Britain to say that this was at one time one of the most amazing countries for coachbuilding cars. That’s what we’re going to bring back to life and I’m hoping that after me others follow suit.”

Although Kahn Design is focusing on the UK market, the business also exports its vehicles to other countries. Mr Kahn says there is a demand all over the world for British goods. He said: “The whole world, even the Americans want British, but it’s got to be manufactured and it’s got to be engineered here. It can’t be just something that you stick a badge on.”

Last year, Mr Kahn’s business was the subject of the National Geographic TV series Supercar Megabuild. But the entrepreneur said the show didn’t represent him in full flow. “We did a TV series last year and it was just entertainment,” he said. “It wasn’t me in full-flow. It was fairly scripted.”

Mr Kahn added: “Currently, I’m in negotiations with a number of channels to do my own series, where you’ll see me do some cool stuff.”

Top car manufacturer gave the nod to develop ‘dream project’

Designing his own Aston Martin was a “dream project” for Afzal Kahn from a young age.

As well as giving the Vengeance its blessing, Aston Martin will also be offering a three-year warranty.

The car designer had a meeting with Aston Martin and when he laid out his vision, the car manufacturer “realised I wasn’t cutting corners”, says Mr Kahn.

“I’m the first designer in the UK ever to be granted permission by Aston Martin to let me go ahead and do this project.”

Mr Kahn says that he is proud of having worked on such a prestigious car.

He said: “Aston Martin probably sit in the top three iconic brands in the world. It’s the James Bond of cars isn’t it?”

Since the success of the Vengeance by Kahn, the business is now ready to unveil a convertible version, the Ven-geance by Volante, in Geneva.