The Ariel Atom is classified as a high-performance sports car and is manufactured by the Ariel Motor Company, which is based in Crewkerne, Somerset, England. So far there have been five different versions of the Ariel manufactured, including the Ariel Atom, Ariel Atom 2, and the Ariel Atom 3. Only 10 units have been made of the Ariel Atom 3 Mugen Limited Edition and only 25 of the Ariel Atom 500 V8 Limited Edition. One of the most unique things about the Atom is the fact that its chassis is visible from the outside and therefore does not have a roof or any of the other features that are found in most traditional sports cars.
The Atom first started out as a student project at Coventry University by a transport design student named Niki Smart. At this point the Atom was known as the LSC (Lightweight Sports Car) and was developed at the university in 1996 with funding from a variety of automotive industry companies and members, including TWR and British Steel. The suspension that the Atom uses was tuned by a team of engineers at Lotus. The Atom’s suspension is derived from single seat racing cars and is fully adjustable.
The acceleration results for the Ariel Atom were published for the first time in Track and Race Car magazine in 2005. These test involved a number of other vehicles, including the Ford GT, Porsche 911, BMW 5, and others. Because this particular vehicle has a supercharged engine in it, it is capable of going from 0-100 mph in just 10.88 seconds, which is faster than the Caterham CSR 260 which went from 0-100 mph in 11.41 seconds. In 2006, the Atom won Autocar’s 0-100 mph challenge, though it was the Ariel Atom 2 300 bhp supercharged edition that won this prestigious title.
There is a high gloss floor that the Ariel Atom 2 was tested on was just 220 m or 720 feet long and it also featured an open door at the end of the hall. The Atom managed to break record speeds at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham as well. The person who drove the Atom for its indoor test put it into fourth gear and still experienced wheelspin until it reached 70 mph or 110 km/h. This vehicle was eventually beaten by a Class 9 Autograss car which used a 2.0 liter Lexus/Toyota engine which won the indoor speed record.
The Ariel Atom 500 was announced in February of 2008 as the last variant of the vehicle. This version of the Atom uses a 500 horsepower 3.0 liter John Hartley designed V8 engine with carbon fiber body panels and aerofoils as well as chrome aerofoil wishbones with Dymag magnesium wheels. This engine weighs a total of 198 lb or 90 kg and it used in conjunction with a 6-speed sequential gearbox to compensate for the increase in power over the Honda Unit. Ariel has claimed that this version of the Atom can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 2.3 seconds.
The Ariel Atom 3.35R is an upgraded version of its predecessor and is capable of producing up to 350 bhp with its 1998cc supercharged Honda engine which is able to go from 0-60 mph in only 2.6 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. In 2012, it was announced that the Atom would be participating in a single race series called the “Atom Cup”. This vehicle performed a “flash mob” pitstop in Central London as part of its promotional marketing campaign, impressing onlookers and drumming up attention for the new and powerful racecar.