There are plenty of dream garages out there, and plenty of swanky showrooms to swan about in too. But it’s not often you find a place which combines the two, and then some.
Earlier this week, I was a given a special tour of Madlane Welt Premiere – Kazuki Ohashi’s new HQ, a place where he’s gone all-out in creating his dream car-castle.
It really is enthusiast heaven, built on the grounds of Kazuki-san’s father’s old farming sheds and next to his grandfather’s local grocery shop. Being a stone’s throw from a crystal-clear river and surrounded by palm trees and mountains, it’s basically paradise on earth, even if you don’t like cars.
With only a few days before the grand opening weekend, I arranged to pop down to Okayama on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and see what Kazuki-san had created.
Compared to the typical Japanese farming shed, like Kazuki-san’s original spot I visited almost one year ago, Madlane’s new shop seems more like Buckingham Palace than any kind of workshop.
Sleek navy blue cladding frames an entrance way which beckons you into the main space.
Passing through gives full view of the front office and client area, and a car you may remember – Madlane’s flagship Diablo.
There’s a sense that something very special is waiting inside.
The courtyard space allows for client parking, but mostly provides the team room to manoeuvre cars in and out of the garage, which we’ll get to shortly.
It’s kind of like a Roman villa for modern day chariots.
Even though the space is big enough to swing a lion, watching Kazuki-san wrestle with the black 25th Anniversary Countach with its lack of power steering was quite amusing. I’ll be bringing you a full feature on this build in the coming weeks.
Stepping inside the main office from the courtyard, the first thing you notice is the aforementioned Diablo, casually parked in the main foyer. The white Lamborghini doesn’t get driven much these days, but with that massive wing and side ducts it looks like it might take off at any moment.
There are a few reasons why Madlane needed to move into this new complex, but walking around the foyer, it’s obvious that global branding was at the top of the list. Companies can’t solely rely on their build quality to crack the international market; they also need to look the part.
Let’s face it, most people (and particularly those with plenty of money) are pretty picky when to it comes to spending big. So, having a professional image for customers to buy into is essential. It’s the world we live in today.
Moving out of Madlane’s old workshop and single-room office was inevitable; the clientele that Kazuki-san is dealing with these days is used to a little more luxury.
Now there’s space to relax, grab a coffee and lay out plans, with catalogues and sketch books on desks and coffee tables. There’s space to make customers feel special, get the creative juices flowing and ensure they are comfortable throwing money into modifying their supercars.
The space is fantastic, and it shows just how customer-focused the Japanese retail sector is. But Madlane would not be in the position to open a brand new showroom if it wasn’t for the stellar work that Kazuki-san and his team do.
A growing client base means more cars, which equals a need for more space. The old workshop could only really fit one or two cars at a time, and Kazuki-san’s own cars were peppered across dusty garages and barns for storage.
Now, the picture is a little different.
The new workshop has space for up to four cars, and there’s a studio for photoshoots too.
Seeing a customer’s late-model Testarossa up on the hoist – where it was being fitted with air suspension – was a highlight. For me, being able to check out the underside of the rear-mounted engine was a rare opportunity indeed.
At the time of this visit, work was being carried out on customer cars, but with the grand opening less than a week away, naturally the space was being kept as clean and tidy as possible. The old garage is still being used for the dirtier jobs, but I’m sure this new workshop will look at little more lived-in very soon.
At the original shop, Kazuki-san’s 935 replica is coming along nicely. The tube frame is complete and the body is being manufactured in the USA. The engine is being pieced together too, and the new transmission – a Holinger sequential no less – is on the way.
Next to the hoist is a state-of-the-art John Bean wheel alignment set up. That’s a crucial piece of kit when your business is slamming supercars within inches of the ground.
I’ve got a few more features coming from my trip to Madlane Welt Premiere, and there are still more customer cars to explore in the future. I would have loved to attend the grand opening this weekend, but I’ll have to be content with watching the live videos on Instagram.
A big thanks to Kazuki-san for opening the doors to his new shop and showing us around ahead of the opening. What an amazing place.