The Ariel Atom is a road legal high performance sports car made by the Ariel Motor Company based in Crewkerne, Somerset, England, and under licence in North America by TMI Autotech, Inc. at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia.
|Manufacturer||Ariel Motor Company|
|Engine||2.0 L 245-bhp naturally aspirated or 310-bhp (350-bhp in 3.5R) supercharged Honda K20Z4 i-VTEC
2.2 L or 2.4 L 205-300-bhp supercharged General Motors Ecotec
3.0 L 500-bhp Ariel V8
2.4 L 245- bhp naturally aspirated or 300bhp supercharged Honda i-VTEC (US)
2.4 L 230-bhp naturally aspirated or 365-bhp turbocharged Honda K24Z7 i-VTEC2.0 L 321-bhp turbocharged (direct injection) Honda K20C1 i-VTEC
6-speed sequential manual
|Length||3.41 m (11 ft 2 in)|
|Width||1.798 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Height||1.195 m (3 ft 11 in)|
|Curb weight||612 kg (1,349 lb)|
There have been eight Ariel Atom generations to date: Ariel Atom, Ariel Atom 2, Ariel Atom 3 (including the Ariel Atom 3 Mugen Limited Edition and Honda Racing Edition – of which only one was made) Ariel Atom 3.5, Ariel Atom 3S, Ariel Spec:Race Atom, Ariel Atom 500 V8 Limited Edition (only 25 to be made), and the Ariel Atom 4. The limited production Ariel Atom 500 V8 featured a 373 kW (500 bhp; 507 PS) V8 engine. The all new Ariel Atom 4 is the latest Atom featuring a new turbocharged 2.0l engine that is used in the Honda Civic Type R with 3-stage boost.
The Atom began as a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Niki 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.
The Atom suspension setup was tuned by the engineers at Lotus. Edmunds "Inside Line" noted that "anyone who has driven a selection of Lotus-tuned cars, such as the Lotus Elise, the Aston Martin Vanquish and the Opel Speedster, will notice a common feel or signature, and it's replicated in the Atom."
The Atom’s suspension derives from single seat racing cars and is fully adjustable, requiring only a spanner. Both front and rear double unequal length wishbones and inboard, pushrod-operated dampers contribute to the Atom’s dynamic 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 helper coil springs and main coil springs produce a low spring rate for minor deflections and a higher rate for large ones.
Audio of Ariel Atom 3 pulling away from the start at the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb
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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 2 won the 0–161–0 km/h (0–100–0 mph) test by a clear margin at 10.88 seconds, ahead of the Caterham CSR 260 (11.41) and the Ford GT in fourth (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. At 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 m (720 ft) 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 110 km/h (68 mph) and started to get traction. The Atom was beaten only by a class nine 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 driver The Stig.
The Sunday Times measured the time taken for the Atom to accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) at 2.89 seconds, making it the world's third-fastest accelerating production car then available, after the Bugatti Veyron's 2.46 seconds and the Ultima GTR at 2.6 seconds; the review was in 2005.
United States licensingEdit
Brammo Motorsports of Ashland, Oregon, signed a deal with Ariel, Ltd to manufacture the Ariel 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 Chevrolet Cobalt SS. There was a limited run of 10 US-built Atom 2 cars in 2006–2007, which were powered by imported Honda K20As. Brammo ceased production of the Atom in 2007 to focus on the manufacture of an electric motorcycle.
In January 2008, it was officially announced that licensed manufacturing of the new Ariel Atom 3, for the US market, would be undertaken by specialty motorsports manufacturing company TMI AutoTech Inc at a purpose-built facility at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Since 2008, all Atom 3 cars were powered by a Honda Civic Si drivetrain. In January 2016, TMI moved from its 20,000 ft/sq facility at VIR to a newly refurbished 60,000 ft/sq building in South Boston, VA. To separate Ariel manufacturing from its thriving sublet manufacturing services, TMI started all Ariel brand manufacturing and marketing efforts under the Ariel North America name.
In 2011, VIR started the VIR Cup in which specialty designed track dedicated Ariel Atoms would compete in a series of races. This specially designed Atom was called the Spec:RaceAtom (SRA). The VIR Cup was managed and operated by the track club while TMI offered technical support for the race cars, the VIR Cup ended in late 2015.
Ariel Atom 500Edit
Introduced in February 2008, the Ariel Atom 500 features a 373 kW 3.0 litre John Hartley-designed V8 engine, carbon fibre body panels and aerofoils, chromoly aerofoil wishbones, an integrated function steering wheel, Alcon four-piston brake calipers, and Dymag magnesium wheels. The engine weighs 90 kg (198 lb) and is coupled to a SADEV six-speed sequential gearbox to cope with the increased power over the Honda unit. During the development process the RS performance engine was replaced by a unit prepared by Hartley Enterprises giving the final production version of the 550 kg (1,213 lb) car 678 kW/t (909 bhp/tonne).
Ariel claims this variant will accelerate from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 2.3 seconds, making it the fastest accelerating production car when initially released, and the third fastest accelerating production car to date. 
On 23 January 2011, the Atom 500 set the lap record around the Top Gear test track, with a time of 1:15.1, making it the fastest road-legal car to go around the track – a record that stood for just over two years, until the Pagani Huayra completed a lap in 1:13.8 on 27 January 2013.
Ariel Atom 3.5REdit
The Ariel Atom 3.5R is the upgraded version of the Ariel Atom producing 261 kW from a 1,998cc supercharged Honda engine which propels the 550 kg car to 100 km/h in 2.6 seconds and to a top speed of 249.45 km/h. In June 2014 a 3.5R was presented to Avon and Somerset Police, the force local to the Crewkerne factory, to support a local motorcycle safety initiative. It has pursuit lights and police livery.
Ariel Atom 3SEdit
In October 2014, TMI AutoTech, Inc. announced the arrival of an all new Atom for the US market, the 3S. This turbocharged upgrade to the Ariel Atom 3 produces 272 kW and over 407 Nm of torque, propelling it to 100 km/h in under 2.9 seconds.
Featuring an all-new cockpit adjustable traction control system, JRi adjustable dampers, and a choice of three transmissions (including a new SADEV 6-speed sequential race inspired gearbox with paddle shifters), each Ariel Atom 3S is hand built by TMI AutoTech at their facility at Virginia International Raceway.
Ariel Atom 4Edit
The Ariel Atom 4 was launched at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July 2018. It features the latest Honda Type R turbo engine with 239 kW (321 bhp) as standard, a new chassis, suspension, steering, brakes, bodywork with significant aerodynamic improvements, new seating and instrumentation together with a host of design improvements and changes.
In mid-2012, it was announced that for the first time in the UK, the Atom would have a dedicated single make race series called Atom Cup. The series would feature on Jonathan Palmer's MSVR programme of racing with eight race weekends featuring 16 races. The cars were 183 kW naturally aspirated, 3.5 chassis with an MSA approved welded roll bar protection system. The standard suspension was replaced with Öhlins racing suspension. An FIA approved fire extinguisher system was also installed.
Racing was close with most commentators and critics applauding the overtaking and fast paced action.
- "More details emerge on V8-powered Ariel Atom 500". Leftlanenews.com. 11 August 2010. Archived from the original on 1 October 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- "Ariel Atom V8 price". ZerCustoms. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
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- Steve Cropley (1996), 'Your Starter for £10k', Autocar, 16 October 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"
- Alistair Weaver, European Editor, Edmunds Inside Line, Published 29 April 2005, Ariel Atom: Honda-Powered Road-Legal Racecar
- Joseph, Noah. "British mags set indoor speed records", Autoblog, 18 December 2006.
- Frankel, Andrew (17 November 2005). "European First Drive: 2006 Bugatti Veyron". Edmunds. Archived from the original on 29 January 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
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