The Ariel Atom hit the scene at the turn of the century and it quickly gained popularity amongst weekend track day enthusiasts. The car was purpose-built with one task in mind, to obliterate the competition on any decent circuit but with the ability to drive to and from the racetrack. The company is old, like really old, the first form of transport was the Ariel Ordinary back in 1871. Yes, that’s a cool 152 years ago. Sure there was no motor, but the Penny Farthing-style bike was the first all-metal bicycle with a lightweight steel frame, revolutionary and patented spoked wire wheels, rubber tyres and steering. The first powered vehicle from Ariel was the Ariel Tricycle in 1898, and this soon expanded to the first 4-wheeled powered vehicle in the form of the Ariel Quadricycle in 1901. So it’s safe to say these guys have more experience than most. These days the Ariel Atom is built by a single technician who has the responsibility to not only build the car, but also to do the road test and sign off that it’s ready for delivery, much like AMG does, but on steroids. Customers who have ordered one are allowed to visit the British Ariel Motor Company premises in Crewkerne, Somerset, England to watch the build process on their ordered Atom. We’ve seen a few of these here in SA, and they’re properly fast cars, especially in the hands of a good driver. There would probably be more of them around if the Rand/Pound exchange rate wasn’t absolutely pathetic. There have been a few engine choices available for the Atom over the years, the first we saw here featured a K-series Rover engine that offered up just 142 kW, but with the power-to-weight it was fast. One of the local ones here was soon swapped to a turbocharged Honda powerplant that was weirdly a sign of the future.
Take a look at the YouTube video where the chaps from Top Gear put the open top (and open sides and wheels) Ariel Atom 4R through its paces to see if the performance is as advertised. Anyone who's ever seen or heard of an Ariel Atom will know just how competent they are on track, and so there are some big expectations that the new big dog in the stable is the best version we've seen to date - and it certainly looks like it: FIRST DRIVE: Ariel Atom 4R – 400bhp, MIND-BENDING Performance | Top Gear
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