There's a car lover's dream in Tullamarine - a world-beating supercar repair and restoration site in former The Age newspaper printing centre.
The Melbourne-based Zagame Automotive Group, which holds dealership rights to 14 Euro brands from Fiat and Audi through to Ferrari, Pagani and Rolls-Royce, has opened a rather extraordinary ‘supercar refinement centre’.
The centre, which resembles a race-team’s engineering centre more than a typical body shop, is billed as the place to repair, restore and rebuild exotica to their former glory. It’s an extension of the existing Autobody operation, which does ‘OEM-level repairs’ on Alfa Romeo, Audi and Fiat.
This Zagame Autobody ‘bespoke’ operation, which occupies 4000 square-metres on the upper deck of the company’s sprawling Tullamarine base, is certified to repair and restore product from Lamborghini, BMW, Tesla, the Audi R8, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Morgan, Caterham and Lotus.
That means it's a dedicated site for many insurance companies in Melbourne and the rest of Australia (thanks the the ZAG transport network), though most supercar buyers would surely spend extra to stipulate their choice of repairer anyway...
This Tullamarine base was once the printing centre for The Age newspaper. It now stores 700 off-the-boat cars destined for dealers, serves as ZAG’s distribution centre for parts, and has 25,000 square-metres of undercover storage. It also looks like a giant airplane wing to deflect radar, given its proximity to the international airport.
The extension into the supercar space means its 10 new floor staff need expertise in various materials like aluminium and carbon-fibre, rare paint matching and fabrication, and are sent to each company’s European, North American and Japanese headquarters on a regular basis to brush up on their skills.
The extended site has 31 work bays and is fitted with chassis alignment tools, point-to-point computerised measuring, contaminant-free repair rooms audio-visual displays, showing OEM guidelines brand-specific tools and paint stores (only Glasurit for my Roller), high-tech spray booths, and machines such as spectrometers.
Other cool gadgets include Dolphicam, a mobile camera providing ultrasound inspection of Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRP). It generates high-resolution 2D and 3D images to identify possible hairline fractures that the naked eye won’t pick up.
There are also copious particle extractors to avoid cross-contamination of ferrous and non-ferrous materials. In layman terms, steel and aluminium or composites don’t like to be sanded down with the same paper. The resulting corrosion is severe.
Work bays also have F1 garage-style overhead lights engineered in-house to try and replicate outdoor lighting indoors, offering dimming, colour and focus adjustment to replicate different lighting environments. The newness of the site means its spotless, all white walls, glass booths and shiny gear. There’s even a 3M vending machine for consumables like sandpaper.
It's worth noting that much of this gear and all of the training is brand-specific, meaning the overheads are massive.
Most of the metal we saw was new-ish (such as the Rolls-Royce Ghost being re-sprayed), but the company has done a few complete restorations (involving bespoke fabrication), namely a 1978 Porsche 911 and a 1976 Ferrari Dino. Concours, here we come.
“We see a need for this south of the equator,” said ZAG’s CEO Michael Winkler (previous president and CEO of Bentley Motors in the US), adding his view that many current experts in the fields were ageing and lacked succession plans.
“The capability now exists to have exotic cars rejuvenated locally to the same exacting standards as their original place of build. There is no independent facility quite like Zagame Autobody Bespoke anywhere in Australasia," Winkler said.
The point of all this?
“With the launch of Bespoke we can now extend our customer offering to the same high standards for factory-approved authorised repair, rejuvenation and refinement work for supercar brands,” Winkler continued.
“From a customer perspective Zagame can help you buy the car you want, service it the way the manufacturer dictates, and now repair it or enhance it as if completed at the factory."
"It’s a 360-degree customer experience that we hope to eventually offer across all the 14 European brands we represent."
Owners of vehicles getting the rockstar treatment are able to show up and watch the progress, either through interaction or through glass viewing areas. Watching a Roller get a new coat of black paint from a fella in a suit with breathing apparatus was oddly hypnotising...
No word on whether this writer's old project BMW will get a respray, on the house... if only.
Check out the gallery, it's quite a sight.
MORE: Zagame coverage