AVI, and the Concept of "OEM Plus"
In a shop just outside Boston, MA, Safi Barqawi toils over a workbench, soldering with a steely focus. He is installing a radar detection system in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder–one of two currently in his shop. It is just one of the services provided by Audio Video Integration (or AVI), and Safi has a rarefied clientele. They come to him for a service that he calls “OEM-Plus.” It means to modify a car with features that were not available from the dealer, but made to look like they were. Take Maserati, for example. The Italian maker of supercars and high-end performance saloons produces only a small number of examples per year. With those production numbers, one must focus on priorities, and for Maserati, its performance. As such, the latest tech features are not available the way they are in mass-produced vehicles such as Toyotas. For those who seek the latest in-car gadgets, a Camry is more attractive than a Quattroporte. It’s like bizzaro world. That is where AVI comes in, installing features like lane departure warning systems, backup cameras, parking distance sensors, and navigation equipment. AVI’s clientele is a discerning one, and all likes of Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Ferraris roll through his doors. As such, the process is far more than just adding features to a supercar. “Sure, we do high-end customization,” says Safi, “but really what we are offering is bespoke automotive innovations.”
Like a tailored suit or fine custom shoes, discerning customers go to Safi with their brand new high end supercars, and tell him what they would like different about their car. Jobs can be advanced as installing iPhone docks or routing the display for the radar detector through the factory digital display. They can also be as simple as installing a “floor” to a door handle so that the owner can store keys there.
Every job, big and small receives AVI’s deft touch, making it as original as possible, and even improving on the OEM design. “We’re building the radar detectors and backup displays into the mirror,” says safi, “and wrapping the mirror in leather, which is an upgrade from the factory mirror.”
Mind you, this is Boston and not Miami. When someone wants custom work done, subtlety is key. Safi explains, “The biggest complement we can receive is if someone asks the owner if his work is a stock option.” Its that kind of subtle aftermarket work that speaks to a new kind of automotive connoisseur. A long time ago, bespoke may have meant elaborate custom body work, but today it means seamless integration of the latest technology, and to Safi’s customers, his work is just as important to their lifestyle and comfort.