Let’s make that three weeks in a row that I’m blogging about incredibly fast cars coming from automakers in Britain. This week’s installment of Super Speed Friday features the Ariel Atom 500, from the Ariel Motorcar Company (AMC).
The Ariel Atom 500
AMC is a relatively small car company, and by small, I mean they only have 7 employees. They also makes less than 100 cars every year and the Atom is the crown jewel of their collection. It was first developed in 1996 and has gone through continuous improvements and updates ever since. The car has no roof, windshield, or body work to speak of, simply a tubular chassis that supports it. Basically, the car is an exoskeleton on 4 wheels. Having all of that body work stripped away reduces the weight of the Atom to half a ton. To put it in comparable super speed terms, the Atom weighs less than half of the Pagani Huayra. This massive weight deficit makes the Atom much faster and more agile on the road than most supercars. The vehicle’s original engine was a Honda Civic Type-R. The design of the Type R was first conceived in 1992 as a racing vehicle, which made the engine a perfect fit for the Atom, at least at first.
The Ariel Atom coming onto the market in 2013 has an exclusive V8 under the hood, one designed by John Hartley. John has been designing car engines with his own unique approach since 2007. That same year, as president of a printing machine manufacturer out of Wisconsin, John though that the engine in his four cylinder sports car sounded “unimpressive” and “flat”. He sought to create a new V8 by putting two water cooled motorcycle engines together. Hartley successfully coupled the thunders of a motorcycle engine with the body of supercar. When he designed the Ariel Atom 500′s engine in 2008, he took the same approach and got incredible results. The Atom 500 has a top speed of 168mph.
Let’s talk some more about the power of that V8. The 6 gear standard transmission has a super speed all its own. With the assistance of the “paddleshift” system, the Ariel Atom 500 can achieve 5 downshifts in less than a second. Once shifting is mastered, the Atom can go from 0-60 in less than 3 seconds. Most supercars take at least 5 or 6 seconds to accomplish that goal, but not the Atom. Once behind the wheel, in less than 7 seconds the vehicle is going 100mph. The Ariel Atom also offers varied suspension settings, formulated from one-seat racing cars, that allow it to adhere to almost any track environment.
Although the outside of the car takes a minimalist approach to automaking, the dashboard is ripe with options you would find in the best supercars. A display allows the driver to flip through any information one would want to have when driving such a speed machine. Everything from the oil pressure to the traction controls, and even wet/dry settings, are available through the navigation of the in-dash LCD. Although, the Atom does lack a stereo. I do think that every great automobile needs a stereo, especially one that falls into my super speed category and can go over 150mph.
Within minutes of researching this particular car, it became evident that it needed to be added to my Super Speed blog list. Although there are cars out there that can best the Atom by 50mph or so overall, those same cars can’t go from 0-60mph in under 3 seconds. That type of jump speed is lightning.
If you wanted to own an Ariel Atom 500, well, you can’t. Ariel is producing only 25 Atom 500s and they are all pre-ordered. Perhaps that’s why they keep their company so small, less overhead, and the cars always sell out.
Links to blogs about the Ariel Atom 500
Super Car Blog
High Speed And Luxury Car Blog
Project Cars Videos Blog
Exciting Cars Blog
By Jeanne Longhorne
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