The Ariel Atom is sort of an incredible mystical machine to gear-heads which needs no introduction. It's a vehicle without a body, without doors, and without any creature comforts. Its primary purpose is to get the driver and one passenger, and nothing else, around a race track in the fastest and purest way possible. Its secondary purpose to disfigure the faces of said driver and passenger, which has become the obligatory thing to do by the few people who get to drive, or at least ride, in an Atom.
Few may know that Ariel Atoms are actually manufactured in the United States (in addition to the Crewkerne, England factory), under license, by TMI AutoTech, Inc., which is located right near the Virginia International Raceway. The cars are sold directly through TMI, or through a handful of dealers which are predominantly located in the southern and western part of the country. That has changed this week, however, with the addition of ACE Performance, in Tewksbury, MA, as the first northeast dealership.
The Ariel Atoms manufactured by TMI AutoTech come in two flavors: the common Atom 3, and a newly developed Spec Race Atom. As the name suggests, the SRA was designed for Atom specific race series; think Porsche Supercup or Ferrari Challenge but at much more reasonable costs. Currently all races are being held at VIR.
Both Atoms are powered by Honda's K24 230hp iVTEC engine, which is mated to a 6-speed transmission with a limited slip differential. With the Atom weighting in at 1350 pounds, this translates to a 0-60 time 2.9 seconds, which probably feels much faster in a car that does not have a roof, body, or even a windshield. For those wanting more, there is the optional supercharger as well as other suspension and braking options. For those wanting less, there are windshields.
The Atom was primarily designed as a track car and that is how it is being sold. Registration and other associated road legalities are up to the owner and his/her local state laws. Prices start at $56,480.00 for the Atom 3, and $47,500 for the SRA. Given the real world price of a B-Spec racer, this is a bargain once you take the ridiculous performance of the Ariel Atom into account; 2.9 seconds versus whatever hours Mazda2 is.
More details and press release at Hooniverse.com