I'm not saying we were impressed with Zagame Autobody when it opened, suffice to say it won four Paint & Panel awards back in 2016.
While it may have elicited a few gasps of wonderment, the new Bespoke floor that I visited in Melbourne last week is a total jaw dropper. As well as jobbing Audis and Alfa Romeos and the like, Zagame sells supercars such as McLaren and Maserati and its passionate clients also own a stunning array of automotive exotica.
To service this elite group of customers and cars the Bespoke division of Zagame Autobody in Tullamarine offers repair, restoration and refinement to full factory-approved standards for some of the world’s most exotic cars.
Zagame Autobody Bespoke division is, in effect, say the company, an extension of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) factory floors, albeit on the opposite side of the globe.
Zagame Autobody is already certified to perform repair work to OEM standards for brands including Alfa Romeo, Audi and Fiat; with Bespoke now adding a second tier of ‘top end’ brands and cars including Lamborghini, BMW, Tesla, Honda NSX and Audi’s exclusive models including the R8.
Most Bespoke cars are expensive, high-performance models with leading technology and manufacturing complexities. The Honda NSX supercar, for example, features a hybrid petrol-electric powertrain and a body structure comprising aluminium and other lightweight, high-strength materials including carbon-fibre.
Bespoke has a total of 31 work bays across approximately 4,000 m2 on its own dedicated floor.
Fit out includes: chassis alignment, point-to-point computerised measuring, non-contamination repair rooms, audio-visual displays linked directly to OEM repair methodology, specific tooling for all brands, aluminium dent rectification equipment, restoration bays, bays for body wraps and paint protection film and, of course, hi-tech spray booths.
Special technology includes Dolphicam, a mobile camera providing ultrasound inspection of Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRP).
Work bays also have F1 garage-style overhead lights which replicate outdoor lighting indoors; and offer dimming, colour and focus adjustment to replicate different lighting environments, thereby eliminating the need to move a car to various lighting locations during final inspection.
Completed cars are presented to customers from a dedicated indoor delivery foyer.
Bespoke’s 10 technicians are trained online and at overseas factory headquarters, including yearly updates on latest welding technologies.
“The capability now exists to have exotic cars rejuvenated locally to the same exacting standards as their original place of build,” says Zagame Automotive Group CEO, Michael Winkler. “There is no independent facility quite like Zagame Autobody Bespoke anywhere in Australasia.
“The sophistication and expertise that exists within Bespoke is, to the autobody world, what Formula 1 is to motorsport. It’s the best of the best.”
The comparison to Formula 1 is beyond metaphoric, as the Bespoke facility looks like an F1 factory with tall glass walls, shiny white floors, digital work stations and hi-tech hoists.
The extensive use of glass allows owners to watch work being conducted on their cars throughout various stages, including through glass doored booths for final painting.
“Owners of supercars and exotic cars in particular are quite enthusiastic about their vehicles,” said Winkler. “The rejuvenation process can be quite painstaking, and long, so it’s nice that a customer can drop by for a coffee and see first-hand the work going on.
At various stages a car may be exposed to its underpinnings, giving a rare glimpse of normally hidden engineering which further adds to the customer experience.”
Bespoke also specialises in full restoration of classic cars such as a recently completed 1978 Porsche 911 and a rare 1976 Ferrari Dino, currently a work-in-progress. Both projects were taken on early to help establish stringent quality control processes.
This included real-life testing of the air-tight restoration rooms with dust and particle extractors eliminating cross-contamination between ferrous (iron-based) materials and non-ferrous (aluminium, carbon and composite) materials which can have potentially ruinous effects.