Kahn Factory Visit - Behind the Tuning Scenes (Page 2)
What are Kahn’s limits?
Kahn has reached a good level of limited series production in certain areas, such as covering the interior in various materials, but is still has to make steps in order to make financially reasonable proposals to customers when it comes to other areas, such as genuine carbon fiber interior parts - as you can imagine, requests that come as a first for the company will usually cost more, since the pathways for them hadn’t been created. At the moment, It would cost around GBP100 per piece to have your interior trimmed in carbon fiber by Kahn.
However, there aren’t too many customers that want to go all that far with personalizing their cars and since we mentioned carbon fiber interiors earlier, we’ll tell you that all those that had their cabins gifted in this way, were satisfied with carbon fiber textured vinyl wraps. so Kahn was not motivated to look for a partner that produces actual carbon fiber parts.
As far as the exterior elements are concerned, Kahn is limited to design and doesn’t also cover aerodynamics. To be more specific, its designers have a certain degree of fluid dynamics knowledge, gained in college and in the years of experience, so they do rely on this “common sense”, but they don’t do any actual wind tunnel tests for the downforce created by various replacement body parts or the brake cooling generated by airflow coming from a certain wheel design.
The company brags that for the moment this is OK, as they do not modify any high-performance vehicles and their customers don’t usually take their cars to top speed.
As for the safety part of the deal, we asked them how their bumpers influences, for example, an impact with a pedestrian, where the aforementioned part is truly relevant and they said that all of their products are TUV-approved, so this also covers the safety issues.
Kahn also has its own seat design, with the frame being produced by Corbeau (this is offered for the Jeep Wrangler). When we asked about the influence it has on the safety of the car, we were told that the frame manufacturer’s own work and the TUV approval cover this.
They chose to include the German association in their chain of development not only because this was necessary for the German market, an important market for them, but also thanks to the fact that this is a general way of demonstrating the quality of their products.
We got a bit deeper into the TUV testing topic regarding wheels and found out that a certain wheel model has to receive approval, and this also has to be homologated for each model of vehicle it is used on. TUV asks about GBP3,000 (EUR3,720 or USD4,830 at the current exchange rates) to test a certain type of wheels and then an extra GBP500 (EUR620 or USD805) for each model of cars it is homologated on.
Afzal Kahn, the man that founded the company, comes up with many exterior and interior ideas. However, he also places a strong focus on his design team’s expertise and thus he usually gives this department one sentence.
In fact, it was the Kahn design department that impressed us the most. These people take the aforementioned synapse, or their own start-up ideas, and couple them with what they’ve studied in college, as well as with elements taken form the carmaker’s DNA in order to create a template for the final product.
For example, when designing the exterior kit for the Porsche Panamera, the designers looked at the lines of the concept that previewed the car (who wouldn’t want a street car that hasn’t lost any of the boldness offered by the concept that prefigured it?), as well as at a 993 generation 911 GT3.
The first sketches of the vehicle are done by hand and/or using Photoshop. Next, the company relies on partners to either create a 3D CAD model or make one out of wood/clay. The final stage of the design is to create a pattern that is then sent to the production department.
While we were talking to their head of design, we noticed a sketch of a Bertone Jaguar B99 GT concept and a wink came as an answer to our question about Kahn modifying Jags.
The Kahn headquarters handles a part of the interior jobs and certain details, while the exterior work is taken care of at a shop nearby, which also handles normal bodywork activity, but has a dedicated team of three specialists that work exclusively on Kahn cars.
As for the aforementioned interior handling: the design and re-skinning process takes place at Kahn, but the actual production of the leather happens in Asia due to financial reasons.
The interior production department receives the sketches from the designers and sends the orders for the leather cover, subsequently re-skinning the parts. They can also change the shape of the seat and have even developed their own seat design. This uses a Corbin frame and, for the moment at least, is destined for the Jeep Wrangler.
It is now time to talk about the body shop, the one that’s not located at Kahn’s headquarters. Like we said, this also handles normal body work, but there are three specialists that only cover Kahn vehicles. We spoke to them and found out two things:
1) Apparently, working with glass and carbon fiber makes you friendly
2) They pay extra attention to painting Kahn cars, as Afzal Kahn has developed an allergy to orange peel.
In the sales department, we found a couple of people that seem to base their activity on humor. These guys can make a price tag the size of the moon sound like a joke, but they can also trailbrake you through the corners of production and get you what you want.
Speaking of sales, let’s get into the details of getting your hands on a Kahn car. Regardless of the source of inspiration (the customer or the Kahn team), the tuner needs between 3 and 4 weeks to have your car fully loaded and ready for bling driving.
When a vehicle arrives at the Kahn HQ, it is stripped and sent to the outsourced body shop, where it receives all the necessary exterior goodies and its new color, if this is requested. Meanwhile, the interior team at Kahn prepares all the necessary items, the tuner has the wheels for the vehicle manufactured and when the car arrives, it takes one extra week to have all these fitted to it.
We asked them what were the crazy projects that they remember and we were taken from the Pink Range Rover for Katie Price to a bomb-proof Toyota Land Cruiser (it was a customer from Kenya) and a bullet-proof Range Rover, with the last two being built together with International Armoring and we found out that Afzal Kahn is a friend of Bernie Ecclestone and that the company had built a few custom cars for the F1 man’s family.
There are also other people working for Kahn, such as those who source new partners, their PR man, an extremely friendly guy and various assistants. For those of you who are wondering how much help is brought by bringing these tuned cars online, we can give you an example: one of their vehicles received an order just two hours after the press release about it was issued!
By the way, have you ever wondered what happens to stock parts when a car is fitted with custom ones? The answer is simple: they’re resold. Kahn has a man that only handles stock part sales on eBay and apparently this business is going well.
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