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Meet the king of car customisation - Afzal Kahn

Steve Whitaker 3rd September 2014
by Steve Whitaker
The 27 August 2014 issue of Autocar was a special edition to say the least.

Associate Editor, Hilton Holloway met up with a true stalwart of the automotive/customisation industry – Afzal Kahn.

Hilton’s near 500 mile round-trip was not exhausted on a run of the mill interview. The acclaimed journalist was given a rare insight into a career that spans over 25 years.

Here are some key talking points from the interview:

In the past couple of years, Project Kahn has expanded into modifying and re-engineering Jeep Wranglers and Land Rover Defenders. Kahn estimates that he will sell well north of 500 vehicles this year, including 100 reworked Wranglers and about 200 Defenders.

He further expanded the business in 2012, established the Chelsea Truck Company and opened a London showroom in what was a defunct Sony retail unit at the western end of Chelsea’s King’s Road.

Again, Kahn had spotted a micro-trend, as the Defender became increasingly fashionable as daily transport in the centre of the capital.

At the time of my visit, work was also well under way on an intriguing customised Defender. The customer had asked for the interior to be removed and the car’s floor and bulkhead to be lined in heavy-duty soundproofing. Once that was completed, it was due to have six individual sports seats installed in three rows of two.

Today, however, Kahn is rapidly progressing towards becoming a fully fledged vehicle manufacturer. One of the most interesting projects currently on the go is a re-engineered Defender called the Flying Huntsman.

The first example is currently being completed and has had 400mm of extra bodywork inserted directly in front of the windscreen. The extra space allows a 500bhp General Motors LS3 6.2-litre V8 engine (often found in the Chevrolet Corvette) and six-speed automatic gearbox to be fitted. The Flying Huntsman will also get modified brakes and suspension.

But even while that extraordinary vehicle is still being completed, Kahn has already “invested millions” in a new venture to build unique retro-styled sports cars. The Ant-Kahn business is a venture with Ant Anstead, who runs Evanta, a specialist maker that builds bespoke sports cars ‘inspired’ by 1950s sports cars, particularly period Aston Martins.

Kahn has invested in a coach building firm in the West Midlands  as part of the Ant-Kahn project. Ant-Kahn says the business has plans for everything from “coach built special editions to series manufacturing”.

Again, this new venture seems right on time, as the price of real classic cars ascends into the stratosphere and even Jaguar is getting into the business of building ‘modern collectables’.

“It’s been an ambition to build my own cars, a dream,” Kahn says. “And between me and Ant Anstead, we have 50 years’ experience and the right skill set.” It’s all a long way from making replica Sierra Cosworth wings and designing wheels but, as ever, it seems like the right move at just the right time.

To read the interview in its entirety visit the Autocar website

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