German bespoke sports car producer, Wiesmann, has unveiled Project Thunderball, a limited edition of three car design concepts in partnership with German design company studiocurbos.
The craftsmanship of luxury sportscar making is unique unto itself and the Germans are arguably the top of the list when it comes to producing the best sports cars. Known for their innovation, reliability, and overall build quality, the Germans have proved they know what they’re doing when it comes to making supercars.
Wiesmann, a German bespoke sports car producer, is now hoping to enhance that reputation and put some distance between themselves and their Italian counterparts.
The firm has recently unveiled Project Thunderball, a limited edition of three car design concepts in partnership with German design company studiocurbos. Although headquartered in Dülmen, Germany, CEO Roheen Berry; who has been at the helm of the creative process of this project, is keen to make a bespoke luxury dent in markets beyond Europe.
Their innovations are completely sold out at the moment. Europe has always been their traditional market with the UK market getting bigger. The company has had record sales in the US, with a lot of interest in the Middle East with strong interest of orders in the UAE. But countries like Vietnam are ordering, with a following in Japan and China
Roheen Berry's role in Wiesmann's success and innovation
Berry’s time at Harvard led him to work for Contec Global and then to Wiesmann, but Contec prepared him in more ways than one to be a CEO. At Contec he was in the high security tech space.
“Everybody told me then, ‘no, you can't do this, it's a place for governments.’ But we did it very successfully and still do it. After that we moved into the online banking sector and it was very successful. Contec allowed me to go into places and give me the skillset to manage large companies, and do things that people always said I couldn’t. And at the same time that allowed me also to have a very international spread, which I think a car company requires. It's an electric car now so the tech angle really helps. I believe in the product and in what we've made and I'd like to think that I had a big role in that.”
Berry’s family acquired Wiesmann in 2016 with the aim of continuing the pioneering vision of the founding brothers, Martin and Friedhelm who aimed to create bespoke sports cars that defy the norm.
“One of the things about the car is that it's very, very classic looking,” says Berry. "And when we were designing it, we wanted to continue with the typical Wiesmann design, bringing it into the future, but at the same time have that classic look to it. Some of the old cars were designed in the early 2000s and they still look relevant.”
“The other thing about investment is I've always used the comparison of Bruce Wayne and Batman. If you have a half of a Wiesmann painted in, let's call it like British Racing Green, with a tan interior, you have Bruce Wayne. But, on the other side you have a dark matte black color, then you have Batman. So just by changing the colors you can completely change the look and feel of the car and that appeals to a different audience,” he explains.
This Bruce Wayne versus Batman style caters to differing audiences. The dark black matte will cater to a younger crowd, while the wood carbon mixture of blue and cream interior will appeal more an older audience, the Riviera South of France set.
Berry got acquainted with Wiesmann by becoming a customer first. After buying a car he was drawn to the quality and bespoke aspect of the brand. So, getting involved in the design of the cars is one of his top priorities.
“Right from the first design I have been pretty much involved in every single piece of it. A lot of it has been in my head. I'm quite visual that way and I generally tend to think of things or they pop into my brain and then and then I apply them," Berry explains.
"We were very lucky to have studiocurbos for both. They’re essential because you have to have a very good, capable professional design team to simply get through most of the crash requirements, crumple tests, sight of line tests, and of course aerodynamics. So yeah, I was involved in every single part and the three different concepts are pretty much a team idea but again, definitely stem from me," he adds.
Riviera, Gatsby, Stealth
The three concepts are original and specific to those they’re tailored to. Concept one is likened to the dreamy blue waters of Cote d’Azur. The ocean blue metallic paint is bespoke and matches with the orange leather interior and cream canvas accents that makes you feel you're on a Saint Tropez beach. “I think this concept is probably the most elegant one. I can see a famous movie star driving down to the French Riviera and a beautiful yacht park beside it,” he says.
Concept two is inspired by the 1920s, particularly the Gatsby era of excess and vibrant parties. With its bold green exterior contrasted with its deep burgundy leather interior and matte velvet details it succeeds in being both suave and debonair. “The Gatsby is for a more flamboyant customer, who is a little bit showier. “There's a large demand in that segment,” Berry notes.
And the third concept is described by the company as being “like a stealth shadow across the sky.” Its black matte finish makes it stand out. It’s inspired by the dark night and heroes of darkness. The black leather interiors with anodized detailing and gloss carbon fibre catches the eye.
“It’s black on black, on black on black,” muses Berry, “and it looks mean and aggressive. That's my car for sure,” he laughs.”
It will take about three to four months to fill each order. As soon as customers make their choices the faster the company can produce their car. Because the concept cars are electric they are made quicker than gasoline cars, because those have to be hand-built. And it also helps that the Wiesmann production lines are more efficient.
The cars have a three to four-year warranty on them. If there are mechanical issues, either a Wiesmann partner can fix the issue, otherwise the car has to be sent to their facility in Germany. In places where they have large sales of replacement cars, customers can use that until their car is ready.
Just as someone can go to Savile Row and get a bespoke suit made, someone can go to Wiesman and get a bespoke car made. This is an essential aspect for the car market and Berry explains why.
“This is a very individual product. It's a very special looking vehicle. It's timeless. We always want to give our customers a positive feeling. All Wiesmann’s when you drive one out, you would make 30,000 Euros on them, so now we've priced the car below what a second hand Wiesmann goes for now. A lot is going to be dependent on the way things go. You're going to have to buy or get into an electric vehicle simply because you know the younger generation is not going to take these big V8s or V10s or V12s anymore. If you want to lead by example, be individual, be bespoke, enjoy your vehicle, and also make a profit then Wiesmann is the go-to."
While traditionally men are more likely to buy a sports car from brands like Ferrari or Porsche for their own use, Wiesmann are noticing a trend where couples are buying their cars to enjoy weekend trips together. The cars have enough space in both the front and back trunks to accommodate luggage for both individuals.
Furthermore, there is a growing trend of women buyers in the luxury sports car market. This year’s Salon Privé in London saw a lot of women approaching the brand showing interest in purchasing.
Berry’s answer to this is simple: “Women are, I think, the highest growing segment for the luxury market for sports cars. This one is very much like a mixed bag in the sense it's very well made. You can bespoke it. The colours are very interesting, the design is elegant and it brings some kind of romantic thought process with its design. Women are drawn to the car, we see that now. At Salon Privé with the amount of people, women were very much interested. And we've also seen the orders that have been reflected which are women.”
“We take care of things like your line of sight, so it's actually safer for the pedestrian or other drivers and you feel better driving through spaces as well.”
And Berry and his team of engineers and designers have made sure the company’s bespoke services go so far as to benefit women customers.
“If you look at the old cars they had a very high ledge, which made it uncomfortable for women getting in or getting out, which stopped a lot of customers from buying them. So, we made huge efforts in the new seats to make sure that it drops and it allows a lady to get in or out of a car elegantly and hopefully, you know, they appreciate this.”