Ariel Atom

Infobox Automobile

name = Ariel Atom
manufacturer = flagicon|United Kingdom Ariel Ltd
production = >100 per year
class =
platform =
body style = Open body two-seater
engine = 245-300 bhp supercharged Honda K20Z 2.0 L or convert|500|bhp|kW PS|0|abbr=on V-8
length = convert|3.41|m|in|abbr=on
width = convert|1.798|m|in|abbr=on
height = convert|1.195|m|in|abbr=on
weight = convert|456|kg|lb|0|abbr=on
related =
similar = Lotus Seven
designer = Nik Smart

The Ariel Atom is a high performance sports car made by the Ariel Motor Company based in Somerset, England. The car is also manufactured under license in the United States, originally by Brammo Motorsports, currently by TMI AutoTech Inc. There have been three Ariel Atom incarnations to date: Ariel Atom, Ariel Atom 2 and Ariel Atom 3. The current model is the Ariel Atom 3, which is also the most powerful of the three. Ariel has also announced an RS Performance model, with a motorcycle-derived convert|500|bhp|kW PS|0|abbr=on V8 engine. [ [ of Ariel RS] ]

The Ariel Atom is unusual in that it is exoskeletal — the chassis is prominently visible from the outside — and therefore lacks a roof, windows and other features normally found on road cars. It is available with a range of engines, the top of the range being a supercharged Honda Civic Type-R K20 and a supercharged 2.0 litre, convert|300|hp|abbr=on GM Ecotec engine. With each of these engines it can achieve acceleration rivaling that of much more expensive automobiles. Although the top speed of approximately convert|140|mph|km/h|abbr=on-convert|150|mph|km/h|abbr=on is relatively tame compared to more exotic sports cars, the high power-to-weight ratio (approximately 500 bhp/ton, or 650 bhp/ton supercharged) affords it incredible acceleration- "0 to convert|60|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on in 2.9 seconds, if you can change gear fast enough" (to quote Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson)- and the low weight provides excellent control through corners.

The Ariel Atom has received great media interest. In 2004 it was tested by Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC motoring television programme Top Gear, where it lapped their test track faster than, most notably, a Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 and a Porsche Carrera GT and also creatively re-arranged Clarkson's face because of the open cockpit's lack of wind protection. It has also been featured on the Discovery Channel. The car also appears in the video games Project Gotham Racing 3, Project Gotham Racing 4 (available for the Xbox 360 console) and TOCA Racedriver 3 (available for PC, Xbox and PS2).

The Ariel Atom was also used (unofficially) by Wrightspeed Inc. as a base vehicle to prototype the electric running gear for an entirely new production vehicle which Wrightspeed is raising funds to build. The Atom-based prototype, called the X1, also has incredible acceleration, reaching convert|60|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on in 3 seconds.

Design origins

The Atom began as a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Nik Smart. Known then as the LSC (Lightweight Sports Car), it was developed at the university in 1996 with input and funding from various automotive industry members, including British Steel and TWR. Ariel Motor Company boss Simon Saunders was a senior lecturer whose responsibility for the project was primarily as financial manager and design critic for Smart, whom he described as "The best all-round design student I've ever seen." The car was first shown publicly at the British International Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham in October 1996. [Steve Cropley (1996), 'Your Starter for £10k', "Autocar", October 16 1996 pp74-77:

"The project had its germination as a project for 100-odd students of Coventry's School of Transport Design"
"As senior lecturer on the Coventry course, Saunders fell naturally into the role of financial manager, enabler and chief critic"
"Most of the LSC's primary design is Smart's"


*0-60 mph : 2.7 seconds (manufacturer's claim)
*Top Speed: 140 mph, 225 km/h (155 mph, 249 km/h supercharged)
*Power: convert|245|bhp|kW PS|0|abbr=on @ 8200 rpm (300 bhp supercharged)
*Torque: convert|210|Nm|ftlbf|abbr=on @ 6100 rpm
*Weight: 456 kg (1,005 lb)
*Transmission: Honda six-speed with reverse
*Price: £20,000/£29,000 supercharged (cost in the US is over $65,000)
*Engine: 2.0L Honda K20Z, 4 Cylinder, i-VTEC
*Manufacturer: Ariel Motor Company Ltd
*Length: convert|3410|mm|in|abbr=on
*Width: convert|1798|mm|in|abbr=on / convert|1828|mm|in|abbr=on with 225 Tyres
*Height: convert|1195|mm|in|abbr=on
*Track: convert|1600|mm|in|abbr=on front and rear
*Wheelbase: convert|2345|mm|in|abbr=on
*Designer: Nik Smart

Recently, Ariel has announced intentions to build a new version of the Atom, the Atom 500 V8. This version will feature a 2.4L supercharged V8 engine putting out at least convert|500|bhp|kW PS|0|abbr=on, coupled with a six-speed sequential gearbox. The Atom 500 V8 is scheduled to be released during 2008. No pricing information is currently available.


The Atom’s suspension is derived from single seat racecars and is fully adjustable, requiring only a wrench. Both front and rear double unequal length wishbones and inboard, pushrod-operated dampers contribute to the Atom’s dynamic racecar-like handling. Adjustable suspension rod ends feature inboard rubber/metal bushings to promote a more comfortable road-going ride. The front and rear Bilstein dampers are also adjustable. Stacked light and heavy coil springs produce a low spring rate for minor deflections and a higher rate for large ones.


In 2005 Track and Race Car magazine published the results of a comprehensive test of a range of cars, from the Porsche 911 Carrera S, Ford GT, BMW M5 to the Caterham CSR 260. The Supercharged Ariel Atom 1 won the 0-100-0 mph test by a clear margin, reaching convert|100|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on and then stopping in 10.88 seconds, ahead of the Caterham CSR 260 (11.41) and the Ford GT in 4th (13.17).

The following year, the Atom won Autocar's 0-100 mph challenge as the new Ariel Atom 2 300 bhp supercharged edition achieved a time of 6.86 seconds, and then stopped from 100 in 3.8 seconds.

Also, the Ariel Atom is the fastest indoor road car. During the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham the Atom broke the indoor speed record. The high gloss floor that the cars ran on was only 220 metres long, with an open door at the end of the hall. The driver of the Atom launched in fourth gear and still had wheelspin until the car reached convert|70|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on and started to get traction. The Atom was beaten only by a Class 9 Autograss car powered by a 2.0l Lexus/Toyota touring car engine which set the official [ indoor speed record] , beating the previous record held by a Toyota F1 car driven by Top Gear's The Stig.

The British newspaper The Sunday Times measured its average acceleration from 0 to convert|60|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on at 2.89 seconds, making it the world's third fastest accelerating production car then available after the $1.3 million, convert|1001|PS|bhp|0|abbr=on Bugatti Veyron which reaches 0 to convert|60|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on in 2.46 seconds, [cite web|url=|title=European First Drive: 2006 Bugatti Veyron |author=Andrew Frankel|date=2005-11-17|publisher=Edmunds|accessdate=2007-12-28] and the Ultima GTR, which reaches convert|60|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on in 2.6 seconds [cite web|url=|publisher=Ultima Sports Ltd|title=Ultima Crowned Triple 0-100mph-0 World Record Holders|accessdate=2007-12-28] ; the review was in 2005, but the Caparo T1 is also quicker despite not being tested at the time .

US manufacturing

Brammo Motorsports of Ashland, Oregon signed a deal with Ariel Ltd to manufacture the Atom in the US starting in late 2005. In the US the Atom 2 was available with the supercharged GM Ecotec engine, which was introduced in 2004 on the Saturn ION Red Line and is also used in the Cobalt SS. A limited run of approximately 10 US built Atom 2 cars, manufactured in 2006-2007, were powered by imported Honda K20As. Brammo Motorsports ceased production of the Atom in 2008 to focus on the manufacture of an electric motorcycle.

In January 2008 it was officially announced that licensed manufacturing of the Ariel Atom for the US market would be undertaken by TMI AutoTech Inc at a purpose built facility at Virginia International Raceway. TMI started their production by building Atom 3 cars which are Honda powered. TMI AutoTech Inc is also associated with Trak Motorsports Inc, the company that operate the Ariel Atom Experience trackdays in Canada and North America.

RC Ariel Atom

Near the end of 2007, Top Gear released a 27 MHz remote controlled Ariel Atom toy car which was "based on the Ariel Atom but is not an exact replica." It was sold exclusively through Argos.

ee also

* Wrightspeed X1 for a technical image gallery of the chassis' components.:(The "Wrightspeed X1" is a electric car utilising an Ariel Atom chassis, an AC Propulsion motor, and Lithium-Ion batteries).


* [ How Stuff Works]
* [ Cover Cars]

External links

* [] Ariel Motor Company website
* [] Ariel Atom North America website
* [] Ariel Motor Spanish dealer website
* [] Ariel Atom Owner's Club website
* [ YouTube: Ariel Atom Group] 100+ videos from AAOC members.
* [] Official site of AtomFest - International celebration of the Ariel Atom
* [] Official site of Norwegian dealer

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