Italy has always been the home of small coachbuilding companies that take manufacturer’s cars and give them novel and exciting new bodies. Think Zagato, Italdesign, Pininfarina. They specialized in making cars that looked like nothing else. Ares is an Italian coachbuilder, too, but they seem to be more about making cars that look exactly like something else, in this case, a 2012 Mercedes-Benz concept car.

Ares is a new coachbuilding firm, and the Ares X-Raid is their first real product. It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG, but very extensively re-bodied. It’s the design of this re-body that’s so interesting because it really, really looks like Mercedes’ 2012 Ener-G-Force concept.

Now, it’s not an exact copy or anything like that, especially since Ares was restricted by the dimensions and proportions of the existing G-Wagen and Mercedes was free to do whatever they hell they wanted for the concept, but looking at these two side by side it’s hard not to feel as though that X-Raid must have been at the very least inspiredby the Ener-G-Force.

There’s companies out there that will build you a dead-on replica of a Porsche 356, for example, and the truth is I’m not really clear how these kinds of things stand, legally and ethically. I think they’re very cool, but they are definitely making a business from someone else’s design. Maybe that’s okay, in the right context? I’ll have to think about that more.

Coachbuilding companies, ideally, should be a place for very original designs; Rezvani, for example, is an American coachbuilder who recently announced what is effectively a coachbuilt Jeep Wrangler, the Tank.

While I think it’s sort of a ridiculous vehicle, at least the design is unique, and I think that’s important.

Ares seems to be doing something similar here, though since they’re basing a design on a concept car that was never actually sold, you could argue they’re just making something unobtainable obtainable, or at least obtainable if you’re very rich.

Still, this Ares thing feels a bit weird to me. How do you, my wonderfully opinionated fellow-car-thinkers, feel about this?

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  Italy has always been the home of small coachbuilding companies that take manufacturer’s cars and give them novel and exciting new bodies. Think Zagato, Italdesign, Pininfarina. They specialized in making cars that looked like nothing else. Ares is an Italian coachbuilder, too, but they seem to be more about making...