For those that haven’t discovered the Ariel Atom yet, you are in for a surprise. There are few cars on the planet quite like this one. The Ariel Atom basically is a small Formula One racecar but street legal (when configured properly.) It has a nose cone, a low, wide shape and an engine mounted behind the driver. And like a Formula One car and lacks doors, a roof and even a windshield. In this article we will examine the Atom piece by piece.

The Ariel Atom frame
Let’s talk about the frame first. When you look at the Atom, you see it’s exposed tubular steel chassis. Indeed, this is visually one of the most stunning and unusual features of the Atom. The chassis in every Atom is a TIG-welded masterpiece designed by professional engineers and handcrafted by expert welders.

The Ariel Atom body
Well, let’s start by saying there isn’t much of one. What bodywork there is comes in the form of separate composite panels. By building the Atom this way, weight is lowered yet there is easy access to the mechanical components of the vehicle. The Atom has been thoroughly wind tunnel tested. For example, like most racecars, the underbody of the Atom sits low to the ground, decreasing the air pressure under the car. As the Atom moves through the air, it is both “sucked” down and pushed down, giving it superior handling characteristics.

The Ariel Atom cockpit
The Atom’s accommodates two large adults, who sit side by side inside the tubular frame of the chassis. The high side rails of the Atom offer protection for both driver and passenger, as do the front and rear rollbars.  The seats offer high lateral support to keep the driver optimally positioned in the cockpit and come with either four-point or full harness seatbelts.

The Ariel Atom engine
In North America, the Atom comes standard with a General Motors Ecotec engine. Available in both 2.2-liter and 2.0-liter supercharged versions, the Ecotec engine delivers between 140 and 300 horsepower, depending on the specific package. Are you wondering what sort of performance smallish engines like the Ecotec deliver? Well, with the 2.0 engine, the Atom is just slightly faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo. And with the 2.2 turbo-charged engine, the Atom just might be the fastest car in the world.

The Ariel Atom suspension
The Atom features a double-wishbone suspension front and rear. We asked our technical consultant at www.thompsonmazda.com what that meant and were told it refers to the articulation of the suspension. Both the top and bottom of the suspension have pivoting “wishbones” instead of MacPherson strut design.  

The Ariel Atom brakes
The braking system of the Atom employs Alcon four-piston brake calipers on each wheel. Brake bias, which refers to how the total braking force is distributed between the front and rear tires, is adjustable front and rear via a balance bar. Power brakes are not used.

How do I get one
If you want an Atom for racing, you can buy one. If you want it to be street-legal, an Atom must be built as a kit car. That means everything, including the engine, is shipped to the owner in pieces. Basically you get the race version with a road pack which includes turn signals, a horn, rear tail lights and headlamps.

 

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.