Supercars come in all shapes in sizes, and they cost a fortune, right? If you have a spare million dollars or so to spend on a Bugatti Veyron you’re one of the lucky ones, but what if you don’t? There’s always the Ariel Atom, a completely off the wall UK designed supercar that has changed the world of high performance cars for good. Oddly enough for a production car, the Ariel Atom began its life as a student design project, and was picked up by a design lecturer from Coventry University who later created the company to produce what he saw as a potential winner. He was right: the Atom is like no other supercar, looks like nothing else on the road, and is an entirely new concept all-round. The result was an insanely fast, 550 horsepower beast of the road that was nothing like the production cars we see today. First, it’s not bodied like a conventional car: the Atom has a completely visible chassis, no standard doors or windows, and just a small windscreen for aerodynamic purposes. It’s an automobile designed for performance, speed and excitement. However, practicality has also been considered: what other supercar features suspension that can be fully adjusted with only a spanner?
Power for the People
One of the most attractive elements of the Atom is its simplicity, and that in turn leads to a lower price. The Atom has been produced with various engines in place, and the basic model – powered by a 2.0liter 4-cylinder Honda engine – weighs in at less than $60,000. When you consider that this spec will get you to 60mph in less than three seconds, you begin to get the picture. Quite simply, there is nothing else on the market that can match it for pure, outright pace. So, what’s all this about 500hp? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, there is a big brother of the family, the Ariel Atom 500, so called because its 3.0liter V8 engine gives you, you guessed, 500 horsepower. It also propels you to 60mph in, according to official figures, 2.3seconds, and will top out at 168mph. All of this in what amounts to a tubular frame with seats on four tires – it is completely insane. So, let’s consider the next move: bring in a company called Rotrex, based at Silverstone, in the UK, who specialize in supercharging already very fast cars, to make them even faster again. They offer a range of upgrades for your Ariel Atom, including one in which they custom-build a 2.5liter engine fitted with their biggest and most capable supercharger. Why would they do this with a car that’s already lighting fast? Quite simply, because they can! We reckon this stunning conversion makes this version the most astonishing road car of all time. Except, there’s a problem…
The problem is, the Ariel Atom is not legally allowed to be used as a road car in the USA, as it does not meet Federal requirements. Since 2008 TMI Auto Tech, as Virginia International Raceway, has been building Atoms under license, using Honda power. The good news is they also organize track days for owners, and run an exclusive race series for the cars. It’s the only way to experience the sheer thrill of this back to basics true driver’s car, which is a pity because driving this bad boy on the open roads here in the states would make for quite a thrill.