The Atom 500 first started off as a special project between Ariel and RS Developments in the UK. It featured a small 2.4liter V8 supercharged engine designed by Russell Savory that pumped up 500bhp at a stratospheric 10,000rpm and was coupled to a 6 speed sequential gearbox which has flatshift capability, flappy pedals behind the steering wheel with manual override.
However this has now changed to a normally aspirated 3.0liter V8 making the same amount of power with the same 6 speed gearbox (most probably the supercharged 2.4liter V8 was too manic for people to drive) It also includes launch and traction controls, which may be necessary as the Atom 500 now has one of the highest power to weight ratio in a production car. It weighs 500kgs, and has 500bhp making it have a power to weight ratio of 1000bhp/ton. Totally awesome, and scary.
Initially the Atom 500 was supposed to be released in 2008 and then 2009, but it is only recently reported (by Autocar) that production ready prototypes were said to be in final stages of testing.
The Atom 500 is based on the latest Atom platform, the Atom 3 and is recognizable by the twin rear intakes for intercoolers and gold paint for the exposed framework/chassis of the Atom. It will also feature unique to the 500 wheels and bodywork combined with carbon fibre panels/side pods containing the car’s ancillaries/cooling systems and carbon fibre aerofoils. Other features will include chromemoly aerofoil wishbones, integrated function steering wheel, Alcon 4 pot caliper brakes and Dymag magnesium 16 inch wheels.
Simon Saunders, Director of Ariel, has mentioned that this limited to 25 units is 'an interesting project for us and an experimental departure from what we normally produce. For a few customers the Atom 500 will be the ultimate expression of lightweight performance and represents the outer limits of what is achievable in a road registered car. We also use this sort of project to explore the possibilities of how we can improve our standard cars. The Honda engined production cars already combine all the elements that we want in an Atom and by pushing the envelope to these sorts of extremes we can further improve the breed'.
With the standard Atom 300 already achieving sub 3 second times to 60mph and sub 7 second times to 100mph, the 500 will take this one stage further with record breaking production car possibilities. Initial testing reports indicate that the Atom 500 can accelerate from 0-60mph in under 2.5sec and from 0-100mph in well under 6.0sec. Ariel's targets are 2.3sec and 5.4sec respectively.
Prices of this monster will be in the Ł150,000 region. And It will be available with a 475bhp version intended for “easy” road use (read, still ridiculously scary) and a 500bhp race version which has a more aggressive throttle map for track days and what nots (read, really mind blowingly scary). Ariel claims that the 475bhp Atom 500 will have a top speed of 170mph, while the race version can reach 200mph. Mad has become totally madder, and a helmet is definitely needed to drive one of these compared to the 2.0liter Honda powered version.