IS Motorsport have crafted a name for themselves as the “Sunroof Kings”. But that’s not all they specialise in.
By Chad Miller // Photographed by Darren Townsley
IS Motorsport has become a big player in the Jo’burg custom car scene, and the company has become synonymous with their top-quality range of Webasto sunroofs together with their ability to install them flawlessly. Speed and Sound recently caught up with Ismail Mohamed, one of the brothers who make up the IS Motorsport empire to find out everything about their innovative accessory store, and how they keep their business on the cutting edge!
What was the inspiration behind starting the business? When we were much younger and sitting around with our friends, we always talked about cars and how we would pimp them up one day, until one day the opportunity came up for us to start our own business. My brother Shabier and I both have a deep passion for cars. Deciding on a name for the business we went for our initials, which just so happens to be an all-time favourite for many a car enthusiast: the BMW 325iS. I think we all know this car. I won’t say that this hasn’t worked in our favour.
From what I see, the future looks good; but where and how did it all start? Shabier and I started a small accessories store in Mint road Fordsburg at the end of 1999. We then got the opportunity to move to Lenasia and the business just grew and grew from there!
One of the biggest moves that you guys made was the decision to begin selling and installing sunroofs? We realised that we needed something different to what other accessory shops were doing. That’s when we stumbled across Webasto at a motor show and realised that we had found a product that can really change the appearance of a car.
What was the biggest struggle that you faced when entering the sunroof market? Well, the biggest struggle was perfecting the installation process. Luckily, we had experienced staff. Breaking in into the market was also a struggle, but we must thank Speed and Sound; they were very helpful in that regard.
How did it feel cutting into your first roof? Frightening. Our first installation was carried out on my brother’s Volkswagen Jetta CLi and cutting a gaping hole into the roof of a perfectly good car requires a lot of bravery.
Since those early years, how has the business changed? IS Motorsport has grown and changed a lot! We are the official Webasto agents for South Africa and we are the official agents for Cobra Suspension. We also import our own range of accessories! Now that I sit back and look back at where we started, I can really appreciate how far we have come. Despite all the struggles, I must really thank God and show a lot of gratitude.
Apart from sunroof sales and installation, what other services does IS Motorsport offer their clients? Apart from our Sunroofs installations, we also recover roof linings, selling of car accessories and car sound, HID headlamp conversions, window tinting, and spoilers. We also run a wholesale division which has become a big part of the business.
What has the OEM’s response to the aftermarket sunroof business been like? I have always said that Webasto’s biggest competitor is themselves! Whenever they develop a new OEM sunroof for a manufacturer, they no-longer need TO serve the aftermarket with that product, and a lot of OEMs (the Germans in particular) are fitting sunroofs as standard.
Where do you see the future of the IS Motorsport? The business and the industry is always changing. Manufacturers are making it more and more difficult to modify cars thanks to technology and warranties. Thankfully, there will always be people looking to enhance their cars, and so smaller and more subtle changes are becoming a big trend. We also pay close attention to overseas trends; if you don’t keep up, you will be left behind. We will continue striving to provide quality individualized enhancement products for the automotive industry.
With OEMs tightening the screws, would you guys take the plunge and fit a sunroof to a high-end exotic? If that’s what the customer wants, that’s what they’ll get! I am confident in my staff and believe that we would be able to offer any customer the best quality service no matter what car they drive. With that said, I must mention that we have installed a sunroof on a new model Porsche with no hiccups!
Finally, where can people find IS Motorsport’s branches? We have three branches, one in Lenasia, one in Florida and one in Randburg. Our Randburg branch deals only with sunroofs…..for now!