The Ariel Motor company is a small auto manufacturer based out of Somerset, U.K. that focuses on building track day cars, that can sometimes be driven on the street. The most popular would have to be the Atom which was released in 2000, but really it was the Atom 3 that brought Ariel into the spotlight when Jeremy Clarkson drove the 300hp version on one of the most recognized Top Gear segments in history. The reason it’s so popular is part of what makes the Atom so special in the first place, it’s a bare bones car that has no body panels or windshield so there is nothing separating you from the wind. When you have that kind of power in a very light chassis the acceleration is going to be incredible, and that’s made very obvious when you see Clarkson’s face almost peeling off.
As badass as the Atom 3 is, the guys at Ariel knew there was so much more that could be done with this chassis and in 2010 they again knocked it out of the park with the Atom V8, with mind blowing 500 HP while still weighing just over 1100lbs. Obviously this isn’t your standard V8 motor, trying to stick even a small block LS motor in one of things would never fit. So the brilliant minds over at Ariel combined with the guys at RS Developments took two sport bike engines and fused them together making a unique 3.2L engine that has a 10,000 RPM redline. So even though it was a small engine, Ariel was still able to achieve the 500hp with 500Kg (1,100lbs) which is one of the highest power to weight ratios of any production car ever built.
It’s hard to wrap your brain around the performance specs on the Atom V8, 0-60 in under 2.5 seconds every single time using the brilliant launch control system, and you can run all the way to 100mph in just over 5 seconds. That is only the straight line figures. This car was really meant to be taken on the turns as a track day car, or if you live in the United Kingdom, the Atom V8 is perfect for the many hillclimb events that are held. That other car show that we tend to forget, especially with all this New Top Gear/Old Top Gear hoopla, Fifth Gear, took the Atom V8 to the Gurston Down Hillclimb and let two of their presenters Johhny Smith and Tiff Needell compete. Tiff “Mr Drift” Needell happens to be my favorite car presenter after the trio of Clarkson, Hammond, and May, mainly because he is a badass driver. When he goes to these racing events for the show, he is actually competing to win and not just make an appearance. In this video there is no doubt that Tiff had his eye on the prize when he was bouncing off that 10,000 rpm rev limiter as he was flying up the hill. We don’t want to spoil it but lets just say that old Tiff and that Atom V8 put on quite the show. Enjoy.
Also, here is a video of James May trying to wrangle the Atom V8 on the Top Gear test track, wasn’t nearly as smooth as Tiff but still shows how amazing this car is.