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Ariel Atom – Up Close and Personal

Kamil Kaluski April 24, 2014 Cars You Should Know, Featured 20 Comments

tmi autotech ariel atom details
The Ariel Atom is a vehicle much coveted by so many enthusiasts, yet seen in real life by so few. These vehicles have been on the market for some time in various configurations. It was only recently, however, that Virginia-based TMI AutoTech Inc. made the Ariel Atom 3 and Race Spec Atom more attainable to U.S. buyers. TMI makes the Ariel Atoms under license from Ariel Motor Company which is based in Crewkerne, England.

With the Ace Performance in Tewksbury, MA recently becoming the first northeast dealership for Ariel Atoms, I just had to see the vehicle in person. Given a plethora of options, virtually no two Ariel Atom 3s are identical whereas Race Spec Atoms vary only in color of their front bonnets. All TMI-built Atoms are powered by the same Honda K24 230hp iVTEC engine, with the exception of the limited run of the Ariel Atom Honda Racing Edition.

Rather than writing an excessively long essay about the Ariel Atom, I chose to let my pictures of the black Race Spec Atom and a privately owned street-legal Ariel Atom 3 do the talking. If each picture is worth a thousand words, below are fifty thousand of them. I am neither a professional photographer nor do I have a fancy camera, but I did attempt to capture the details that most enthusiasts would find interesting.

Race Spec Atom

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 Spec Race Atom wheels and tires.

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 Fiberglass siding comes on the Spec Race Atom but otherwise the conventional Ariel Atom 3 is nekkid. Siding and windshield are optional.

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 Battery, fuses, and relays are located under the front top cover.

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 Steering linkage, pedal box, and brake/clutch lines.

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 Separate front and rear brake reservoirs, clutch reservoir.

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Back of the data-logger.

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 Adjustable front/rear brake bias.

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 That’s not a cup-holder, but I guess it could be used as such.

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 Six-speed Honda manual transmission from the Civic Si.

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 Fuel tank is located in front of the engine, behind the seats.

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 Engine and transmission as seen from the left side of the vehicle.

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 Spec Race Atom on left, Ariel Atom 3 (roll bar raised for engine access) on right.

Street Legal Ariel Atom 3 (in for service)

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Seats on this car consisted of a single-piece tub. Note the side mirror. Roll bar is lowered in this picture, in its typical position.
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Street tires, probably best on dry roads. Parking lights and blinkers up front, headlights are located further back. Optional roll bar is in its raised position for engine access.
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Front and rear wings are optional.
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Conventional gauge cluster, hazard lights, and other things needed to make the Ariel Atom street legal.

[Photos: Copyright 2014 Redusernab/Kamil Kaluski – please do not use these pictures without permission]

  • Nick

    Oof. Those seats look mighty uncomfortable.

    • Yea know, they do… but much like a Kirky race seat, they feel fine.

      • Henry Cipolla

        I own the street car. I have to say, the seat is shockingly comfortable. I've done 5+ hours in the car in a day and wasn't too beaten up at all.

  • brenschluss

    Well, I don't have $56k to spend on a car without a windshield, but I'd do quite a bit for a test drive.

    • M44Power

      You can do better than that- they have the Ariel Atom Experience, where you get to fling it around VIR for a while. I really regret not doing that when I lived in Virginia. VIR would be a great track for that car.

  • Britt

    When you say street legal, which state was that car registered for?

    • cheapthrills

      One without a fender requirement, I presume. AFAIK, this setup wouldn't fly for MA.

      • Henry Cipolla

        I own the street car. It has fenders but I have removed them. There are only three bolts holding them on and they exist purely for inspection purposes. They rub and are obnoxious otherwise.

        The problem with registering these cars in MA is *not* one of safety inspection. MA has a kit car law: …

        The problem is insurance. I couldn't find a company to insure the car that also is legally allowed to insure in MA. This is caused by MA's overly complicated insurance laws.

    • krazykarguy

      What little of the plate that remains un-blacked-out in the second to last pic looks like Arizona to me.

      • Henry Cipolla

        I'm the owner of the car, and yes it has an AZ plate. I can't believe you got that from the tiny bit of blue at the top. You have a gift.

        • krazykarguy

          It was the sunset/purple at the bottom, combined with the blue at the top that gave it away…

          My Etsy side business/hobby is cutting up license plates in the name of art. I have a LOT of license plates. My 'gift' is a photographic memory for that kind of minutiae.

  • cheapthrills

    I will never tire of the Ariel Atom. Those D-Force wheels suit it very well, and it's a nice local connection between them an Ace Performance.

  • Rob

    These cars are certainly sweet, but beyond overpriced. The spec racer car should be under $40k fully assembled. It can't cost that much to build them. The Factory Five 818 and Exocet are much cheaper, and practically the same package. I guess the price difference goes into the labor of building the car. The Caterham is about the same price and offers more practicality, but not a spec racer series. I like that there is more competition in this space though.

  • Scandinavian Flick ★

    In addition to being an overall amazing vehicle, it looks like it's probably the easiest to diagnose and work on.

    Great pics, Kamil! I saw one of these in person shortly after they were first available, but this is an even more detailed look than I got then.

  • I am going to need most of those parts for my Civic, thanks

    • Wheels and tires would fit perfectly.

  • CalculatedRisk

    Nice photos. My pants are fitting funny now

  • Gio

    These pretzels are making ME thirsty

  • HTWHLS

    Again….."needs flames."