Formed only one year ago, Clark Abel, based in the West Midlands, is able to customise any vehicle with hand-painted artwork in addition to bespoke and tailored exterior, interior, and performance enhancements.
Clark Abel showcased their one-of-a-kind Monroe Range Rover Evoque adorned by a portrait of Marilyn Monroe by artist Paul Karslake, at Salon Privé in London, the UK’s most prestigious Super Car Show. We caught up with Oliver Jones, one of their Directors.
LM: Tell me about Clark Abel, and who is behind it?
OJ: Three Directors set up the business last year bringing together valuable expertise: David Abel, the Managing Director of Futura Design Ltd, his son Mark Abel, and myself. Everyone involved in the company has an automotive design background. For example, I am a 3D modeller, and my colleague, David Anderson is a trim expert and is involved largely with vehicle and marine interiors. We are located in a studio within the Birmingham-based premises of Futura Design Ltd. who has more than 25 years’ experience in producing showcars and concept models for many of the large OEMs. Clark Abel will be a low volume entity, and going forward, we expect to produce 5 to 12 cars per year.
The Monroe Evoque is the centrepiece of our launch, but we have also done many custom one-off products such as furniture including boardroom tables, as well as a limited run of 10 Puma sculptures. Each one is in a different finish, and has its own life booklet and individual product number. We are always open for the client to come to us with whatever inspirations they have and we are there to see their vision through.
LM: Why did you choose the name ‘Clark Abel’?
OJ: It is very difficult to find a good brand name. At birth, David Abel wanted to call his son Clark as it sounded like the American film actor Clark Gable (who was instead named Mark). After looking at other connotations when we were brainstorming, we wanted to use the name of a person, and David always liked the name, so we decided on ‘Clark Abel’. It is now actually becoming a fictional character within our marque which tells a nice story behind some of our projects.
LM: What is your personal background?
OJ: I am a contractor by trade and a 3D sculptor. I have travelled across the globe, and worked for companies including Saab and the General Motors group. I spent six years in Germany as a lead modeller, and working with a designer, I produced the 3D form from the concept stage of the car through to the tooling surface.
LM: How did the Monroe Evoque come about?
OJ: The Monroe Evoque, which is the first product that we have brought to market, was designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of actress Marilyn Monroe, and is a one-of-a-kind showcar to demonstrate to the world our capabilities and break the mould from what has been done before in what is a very hotly contested marketplace. We gave artist Paul Karslake a blank canvass who airbrushed the design on to the vehicle by hand including the panoramic glass roof which features an Andy-Warhol style picture. The interior, which has all been re-stitched, features one-off custom pink suede and a Bentley quilt-esque pattern. We have also lowered the Evoque, remapped the engine so that the car delivers a 0 to 60 mph sprint time of 6.9 seconds. This car has a reserve of around £100,000 and will be sold through a silent auction. It will also be displayed on the Wally Yachts stand at the Monaco Yacht Show (19 – 22 September, 2012) thanks to our close relationship with their owner.
LM: How does the design process work?
OJ: The client comes to us with their car, and they effectively become the designer, and we provide them with the tools and the guidance. We can then go into Photoshop and into CAD and can create scale models if required. For the personalised artwork, customers can send us an image from their iPhone, and we will then come back to them with a computer generated within two hours following their request, and we will discuss with the client where they wish to position the rendering on their car, whether this a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Range Rover. If they don’t have a specific photo in mind, such as one of their favourite footballer, we can select the appropriate picture for them. Once we get the go-ahead, we can produce the car within four weeks including performance enhancements, the creation of the artwork, suspension upgrades, and the new upholstery.
Furthermore, Clark Abel can do their own carbon-fibre, laminate, and plastic work, and we design and make the tools for custom metal parts. For example, we have our own design of alloy wheel. We have a lot of networks under our umbrella to tap into, and work closely with an engineering company who has 30 years’ experience for things like chassis development and the re-mapping of engines.
The interior combinations are pretty much infinite. For example, many of the names of Porsche models are based on those of crocodiles, and therefore one of our customers who has a range of Porsches wanted all his interior trim in original crocodile skin!
LM: Thank you very much for your time Oliver, and we wish you all the success with Clark Abel.