The German exclusive car manufacture and high-performance aftermarket tuning company Brabus has been the fuel behind some of the world’s exclusive auto customisations for the past 40 years. Specialising in Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and Smart cars, the 2006 Brabus Rocket was one of their most notable projects - taking the title of the world’s fastest street-legal sedan when it hit the road over a decade ago.
Following the passing of innovative founder Bodo Buschmann last year, Bodo’s son, Constantin Buschmann, took the reigns of the Brabus legacy and is taking the lead in introducing Brabus to the world of yachting. A family long connected with the yacht life and with their current vessel newly listed for sale with Fraser, SYT met with Constantin a year into his role as CEO to chat about the Brabus-ised Sanlorenzo superyacht Brabus 7, the introduction of the new Brabus Shadow 800 and why Constantin is breaking with tradition when it comes to his next home on the sea.
Coming from a boating family, you’ve always been surrounded by yachts. Tell us more about Brabus 7.
Yes - my grandfather had boats, my father had boats… I cannot remember a summer where I didn’t spend it on a boat! Brabus 7 is the boat that my father built before he passed away last year. We built her with Sanlorenzo and invested a lot of time and effort to bring her to the level of quality that you experience as a Brabus customer. We had our own engineering team as well as two full-time professional surveyors at the production site in Italy. We definitely Brabus-ised her and I’m proud that she’s the only Brabus superyacht out there for now.
What does ‘Brabus-ised’ mean to you?
Well, car manufacturing and yacht manufacturing are very different. Cars, for the most part, are never fully individual. So that’s where we come in. We transform the car or in this case, the boat, into something unique. Truly limited, high-quality luxury.
We had just sold our last boat and we wanted a new boat fast. As I said before, we spent every summer on a boat so we needed to get one for the season. We saw the SL118, liked her, liked the shape, liked that she is a big boat but still very sporty. We got in touch with the team at Sanlorenzo and we started discussing. Could we have done a full custom boat? Maybe, but life happens and we went with the 118.
We changed a few things, but we saw a good platform in terms of what Sanlorenzo does in superyacht design and construction and it works well in cooperation with our technology at Brabus. The Brabus team came in looking at the boat from an engineering and quality perspective. They analysed it and produced a report on the boat as if they were reporting on a car. That’s why it is not really similar to a standard 118 if you look under the hood. The Brabus re-engineering of the hull and superstructure and the way the flybridge is fitted is all heavily customised - We strengthened the structure and the hull, putting pillars on the flybridge, for example, which reduces vibrations. The interior and electrical installations were customised to the standards associated with Brabus offering optimal silence and minimal vibrations.
Do you think more builders should take inspiration from the automotive industry?
In some ways, yes, but you are dealing with a completely different life cycle issue. When you manufacture cars you don’t have one model; you have 20. If you count the engine variations and facelifts, it is a high number of variants and complexities. That is a structural difference that promotes innovation, and it cannot be any other way in the car industry.
Purely from my personal perspective, I think that there is a very high level of quality in the large superyachts where people have the budget and time to pay more attention to producing something special. The smaller the boat gets, the more an automotive approach could be benefited from. There are lessons to be learned from mass production. Auto design is also extremely refined. Everything we develop has to be designed to the micromillimetre because thousands of people are using them. It cannot go wrong. That in itself creates a level of attention to quality that I think the boating industry can profit from.
Photo: Stuart PearceAlthough Brabus is almost-exclusively focused on cars, you’ve recently introduced a boat to the brand. What’s the story behind the Brabus Shadow 800?
The Brabus Shadow 800 is the symbiosis of what we do in the automotive world and what we want to do in yachting. She’s a beautiful 37’ shadow boat. She started in a fun way. My father and I went to the Dusseldorf Boat Show looking for boats and decided to buy an Axopar 37 Sun Top there. We had to Brabus-ise it, as we say, and the co-founder of Axopar saw her in the Mediterranean when she was finished. He thought it was so cool that he wanted to make it a product.
He knew Brabus and loved our brand, so we began working together. That was our first prototype. We worked on it for about a year and then presented her at Düsseldorf. I thought of it as a cool experiment to venture into boating with the Brabus brand in a way that allows for higher production numbers than the bigger superyachts. Building a 40-metre yacht is one thing, and building luxury limited editions for people around the world to buy is something else. I’m happy to say we sold 20 boats in two weeks!
What’s next in terms of your private yachting journey?
We listed Brabus 7 for sale with Fraser just a couple of weeks before the Monaco Yacht Show 2018. I would like to sell the boat, let’s say ideally before the beginning of the summer season. And then? I haven’t decided, honestly. My problem is that I work too much. I have two sisters who are shareholders in the business, too, and we’re going to decide what to do next. We’ve cruised everywhere from Croatia to the Maldives and have had a huge range of different boats. We have always operated our boats with our family ourselves. The 118 was the first boat that we operated with a professional captain. Otherwise, we’ve always done it ourselves!
For that reason, we probably won’t go bigger than the 118. If you want to drive a boat yourself, anything too much bigger won’t work. I’m looking at sailing yachts right now as an alternative to a motor yacht that is a bit smaller than Brabus 7. I’m walking the shows and I’ll also be in Düsseldorf, so we will see.
Photo: Stuart PearceIt’s interesting that you would go from motor to sail…
Yes, it’s something my father and I discussed a lot! We’ve always had this endless discussion of motor versus sail. For our family boats, we’ve always gone for motor yachts. You can have dinner together and it’s more comfortable - especially if you have guests who have never stayed on board before. You have to have an incredibly large sailboat to get a comparable level of comfort for family, for business, for friends. If I have been on trips outside of that sphere, though, I’ve always chosen to sail on every kind of sailboat you can imagine. I do a lot of sports and I love sailing as an escape. It’s hard work and I love the sport of it. So for the future, I think that is where I’m going to go!
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