This is an aftermarket company that rarely disappoints.
No matter how crazy things get on the outside of customized cars, the interior is often the area that's left relatively untouched. That's because creating a custom car interior that looks the business requires craftsmanship and time. It makes repainting a car - an art form in itself to do right - look easy. There's an assortment of different materials to work with, intricate stitching patterns, and that's after the designing and measuring are done for one-off or small run projects.
Carlex Design is a company at the height of its game, whether it comes to automotive, marine, or aeronautical interiors. The company will do restorations for collectors, provide interiors for limited-run cars by automakers, or create unique one-off interiors for individual customers. When you have a company that has the means and talent to create whatever a client desires, crazy things happen. These are some of our favorites, as well as some of the most insane.
The inside of a Nissan GT-R it's, well, very Nissan. The car may be incredible to drive, but it's not exciting to look at inside. Carlex fixed that by taking a theme based on a katana, the blade used by the Japanese samurai, and applying it with black Nappa leather, deep red inserts and piping, contrast stitching, and carbon-fiber cladding. The patterns represent the grip on a katana's handle, and the styling is as sharp as a blade. Is it a little cliched to go with the katana theme? Sure, but it's one hell of a well-executed interior that gives the GT-R the supercar feel inside that it deserves. The quilted Alcantara roof is stunning just by itself.
The interior of the McLaren 720S is something special. But one owner decided to add some deep purple-tinged burgundy leather and Alcantara into the mix. We love how it sits on the border of being a 1970s cheese-fest, but without quite getting there. You could get a headache if you risk staring at it for too long as the layered materials and mixture of swirling and angular patterns are mesmerizing. We certainly wouldn't choose this for our own 720S, but salute anyone that does.
If you're going to try and upgrade a Ferrari interior, it's going to have to be something special. For this Ferrari 458 Italia, any idea of subtlety has gone out of the window, with globs of red leather and black Alcantara for a high-impact look. The door panels, dashboard, and the steering wheel all look bolder, and Carlex has brought a more chunky and less finessed feel to one of Maranello's finest. We would have chilled back on the steering wheel, but we can't argue with the fact Carlex nailed the idea down.
If you've got a Cadillac Escalade but are not impressed by the GM build quality and materials inside, Carlex will take things up from premium to outright luxury for you. The company calls it "a subtle emphasis of the luxurious character of the vehicle and its functionality," but it's only subtle by Carlex's standards. The patterns mixed into the new interior "directly refers" to the geometry of the Escalade's grille, and the black leather is crafted into different textures throughout, with a little Alcantara mixed in. It's a powerful and well-executed design that makes us wish Cadillac and Carlex would team up for a special edition.
Ford's legendary hot hatch is not something we would typically expect Carlex to tackle. However, the interior specialist says that the "aim of our team of designers was to equip the car with an affordable interior that would match its racing character." It uses genuine leather with dynamic seams to create the pattern across the seats and the door cards. The gear knob, handbrake grip, and the armrest on the center console are also finished in leather. An occasional splash of yellow adds some much-needed color. As for the price, it's much better than we expected; at $4,000, it looks like a great deal.
Do you know what we don't think of when we look at a BMW Z4? The answer is steampunk, but apparently, someone does and commissioned Carlex to go nuts on their sports car. It's so wrong, yet we kind of love it. Copper and brass was used to dress the transmission tunnel, dashboard, door handles, and roll bar, while formed copper bars adorn the steering wheel. Dakota and Vintage leather with Alcantara trim make up the upholstery. Along with the interior, the Z4 has a matte black vinyl wrap, a brushed copper retractable roof, and a set of matching copper-colored alloy wheels. Hopefully, Carlex left the owner a set of goggles in the glove box to top the whole thing off.
If you want to show the world you have copious amounts of FU money, then getting the interior of your Mercedes S-Class gold-trimmed is effective. Add some dark brown and light brown leather and you're getting further into tacky and gaudy territory, but add some crocodile leather to parts of the seats, dashboard, and center console, and you're in the heartland of lousy taste. It's not just colored gold trim, the buttons, bezels, and air vents all feature 24-carat gold.
Carlex calls its Hellcat interior a masterpiece and we could easily see this being a star car in a Quentin Tarantino movie. If you're a fan of H. R. Giger, the artist behind the alien in the film Alien, then you'll see the inspiration in the dark and surreal design. Part sculpture and part nightmare with a steering wheel, the brief was to keep the Hellcat's interior functional. We absolutely love this interior, but we're not sure about wanting to sit in it to drive to and from work every day.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom 'Abyss' is an ongoing project by Carlex and described as "one of the most advanced automotive jewelry projects in progress." The materials going into this project, and the talent for working with them, include metal, wood, exclusive leathers, and gems. The theme is gloomy Gothic art, and a juxtaposition against everything modern Rolls-Royce cars stand for.
Carlex hasn't forgotten the classics, and with the 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback, the company has nailed it. The materials used include nubuck leather and chrome as well as carbon-fiber, but the distressed looks make it all fit together perfectly and brings a sense of age-appropriateness to the car. Extensive use of the black nubuck leather could have made the interior too dark, but for the smart use of silver and chrome fittings. Carlex has kept the original gauge layout and three-spoke steering wheel, and, to us, has respected the original while giving it a modern tint.
We liked the steampunk BMW Z4, but the steampunk Mini Countryman takes things to a whole new level. We could give or take the outside vibe of this car. Still, the interior is absolutely stunning and melds craftsmanship, art, and functionality into an ode to Victorian-era science fiction. Details like clockwork windows in the seats and the meticulously crafted steering wheel center are just a few of the highlights. Most of the Mini Countryman's visible parts are covered with either copper or copper painted brass, including the roof and custom made roof spoiler. We're pleased to see goggles with this one and hope they were passed on to the owner after the shots with a model were taken.