Showing posts with label 2000s Performance Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2000s Performance Cars. Show all posts

Ariel Atom

Ariel Atom 2000s British sports car

In some ways, the Ariel Atom was as close as a roadster gets to an F1 car. Hang on … hear me out! The lack of proper headlamps was a dead giveaway, for starters. There was not enough frontal area for such fripperies. Anyway, the Atom would be wasted at night. Far better to spend the running costs blitzing daylit open roads. Not that those costs would be too exorbitant. The Atom could definitely have been filed under 'pared-down'. It was first glimpsed at Birmingham's British International Motor Show - in October, '96. Production began in 2000. Eight iterations of the Atom have subsequently been released. Enthusiasts are counting on more!

Simplicity was the Atom's watchword. Tightly focused simplicity, that is. Just as an atomic particle is a pretty miniscule piece of kit, so Ariel's automotive take went right back to bare-bones basics. Its weight said it all. Even by stripped-down supercar standards, 1,005lb was light. And it was not just the dearth of standard headlights. The Atom's 'cabin' was minimal, to say the least. Composite bucket seats were about it! Strapped into 4-point race harnesses, though, the two occupants were not going anywhere - except through high-speed bends. With suspension modelled on single-seater race cars - and tuned by Lotus - cornering was always going to be a gimme.

There are, of course, limits to the Atom/F1 car comparison. It is true to say that a top speed of 150mph might be less than competitive down today's straights. That was, though, from a 4-cylinder 2-litre engine - the i-VTEC - borrowed from the Japanese market Honda Civic Type R. Likewise, the original 220bhp may be considered down on power for a contemporary Formula One grid. That would, however, be increased to 245bhp with the Atom 2. And 350bhp was available from the supercharged Atom 3.5R. So, with adroit use of the 6-speed 'box - also sourced from the Civic Type R - scaled-down GP driving was clearly on the cards. To be fair, Ariel Motor Company - based in Crewkerne, Somerset - comprised just seven staffers. The proverbial whip was cracked by boss Simon Saunders. In the past, he had worked at Aston-Martin and GM. Styling was by Niki Smart. At the time, he was studying transport design at Coventry University. British Steel and TWR were among the sponsors of the student-led project. Asking price for the Ariel Atom was £26,000. Not half bad - especially for owners with vivid imaginations. For, it would not be too far-fetched - on a sunny day, at a twisty track - to feel yourself capable of similar feats to drivers of, say, your average F1 car. Up and Atom!

TVR Sagaris

TVR Sagaris 2000s British sports car

If you bought a TVR Sagaris new, you got a fiver change from £50K. It did not, though, come with any airs and graces attached. Built in Blackpool - on England's NW coast - the Sagaris delivered no-frills performance - and plenty of it. No-frills, yes - but not no-thrills. A top speed of 175mph made sure of that.

A swift glance at the Sagaris spoke volumes. The transparent rear wing could not have been clearer ... in terms of the car's intent, that is. If you were still in doubt, an array of bonnet vents gave the game away. Does a road car need to breathe that deeply? Nikolai Smolenski - TVR's new owner - obviously thought so. He was a young Russian oligarch - and was taking no chances. In the past, TVR had caught flak over build quality. To be fair, as a small manufacturer of exotic machinery, it was always a risk. Smolenski, then, opted to up the ante, reliability-wise. How much he succeeded is a moot point. Anyway, a sturdy roll-cage was duly installed - which took care of over-zealous pedal-prodders, at least!

Certainly, the Sagaris' straight-six engine called for care. The all-aluminium unit was deceptively pretty. On top of a 406bhp output, it turned over 349lb/ft of torque. As a result, the Sagaris rocketed from 0-60 in 3.7s. 0-100 took just 8.1s. Figures like that mean precision engineering. With a bit of Northern grit thrown in, of course. After all, sports car development is no bowl of cherries! But, while the TVR Sagaris did not stand on ceremony, it was bespoke - not basic!

B Engineering Edonis

B Engineering Edonis 2000s Italian supercar

B Engineering began as an offshoot of Bugatti - when the latter went bust, in '95. A small group of ex-Bugatti staffers banded together to create their own take on a supercar. Not just any old supercar, mind - a one-of-a-kind supercar. Enter the Edonis! Arguably, the best tagline a car could have would be 'Made in Modena!' Certainly, the Italian city is now synonymous with automotive excellence. B Engineering never used that slogan. But - while 'B Engineering' may not have quite the same cachet as 'Ferrari' - it can still hold its own in high-calibre company.

'Edonis' is Greek for pleasure. In the case of a supercar, the kind of pleasure that 720bhp generates. It came courtesy of a twin-turbocharged V12 engine. The Edonis' top speed was 223mph. No surprise, then, that it broke the lap record at the Nardo racetrack. When it came to the car's colossal power output, every other component was clearly supremely in sync with it. Edonis project director Nicola Materazzi led a crack team of engineers. Between them, they had worked for all of the top supercar marques. Jut 21 Edonis units were built. The figure referenced the 21st century.

B Engineering's links with Bugatti stayed strong. Its owner - Jean-Marc Borel - had been Bugatti's vice chairman. 21 carbon-fibre tubs - originally earmarked for the Bugatti EB110 - were duly used for the Edonis. The latter's 3.7-litre engine was developed from that of the EB110. It was hooked up to a 6-speed gearbox. The Edonis cost a cool £450,000 - from a manufacturer without a proven pedigree. Those in the know, though, did not baulk at the price. After all, the crème de la crème of the car industry had contributed. For the B Engineering Edonis, then, quality was never going to be an issue!

Spyker C8 Laviolette

Spyker C8 Laviolette 2000s Dutch supercar

In the past, the Netherlands was associated with tulips and windmills. These days, it is as likely to be supercars - like the Spyker C8 Laviolette. Spyker's roots stretch back to 1880. In '89, they built the Golden Carriage. It still transports the Dutch royal family, on state occasions. During World War 1, Spyker made fighter planes - including their engines. The firm also found time to build cars - for both road and track. Well, they did until '26 - when Spyker went bankrupt.

Thankfully, though, that was not the end of the Spyker story. In '99, Victor Muller - a Dutch business magnate - bought the Spyker brand-name. He duly set about resurrecting the marque. Supercars would be Spyker's new stock-in-trade. The Spyker Squadron team was formed. It specialised in endurance racing. Visits to Le Mans, Sebring et alia duly followed. In '06, Spyker entered F1. It bought the Midland équipe - or Jordan, as it had previously been. Two years on, the team would be sold to Force India.

Spyker's C8 Laviolette debuted at the 2001 Amsterdam Motor Show. Its aluminium bodywork took visitors' breath away. Beneath, the space-frame was made from the same lightweight material. The dramatic upsweep of the 'scissors doors' was spectacularly state of the art. When open, they revealed quilted-leather seats. The Laviolette's 4.2-litre V8 produced 400bhp. Suspension was via F1-style Koni inboard shocks. Ventilated disc brakes were suitably solid. The Laviolette's top speed was 187mph. 0-60 came up in 4.5s. Of course, the price tag was sky-high. £210,000, to be precise. For that kind of wedge, you got to watch your car being built. That came courtesy of a Spyker factory web cam. Among the options was a Chronoswiss Spyker wrist-watch - complete with your car's chassis number engraved on it. That was a snip - at just £24,000. An add-on set of bespoke luggage cost a mere £12,350. There was even a Louis Vuitton tool-kit available - a bargain at just £2,500. In financial terms, then, the Spyker C8 Laviolette was not for the faint-hearted - or, indeed, cash-strapped. Most of us could not afford the extras, never mind the car itself!

Ford GT

Ford GT 2000s American supercar

The Ford GT was the firm's birthday present to itself ... or, anyone with a spare $203,599 lying about! Created to mark the company's centenary, it was released in 2005. The new GT was inspired by one of the finest cars Ford had ever produced. The iconic GT40 racer was a multiple Sixties Le Mans winner. The new GT prototype d├ębuted at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. Feedback was fulsome! In short order, Ford confirmed that they would be putting the prototype into production. 4,038 GTs were built ... somewhat shy of the 4,500 Ford envisaged.

If the GT's styling harked back to the past, technologically, it was cutting edge. A venturi - cut into the floor-pan - provided plenty of downforce. High-speed grip was further enhanced by huge Goodyear Eagle tyres. And the GT needed every bit of that grip - as its 5.4-litre engine pushed traction to the limit. The aluminium V8 was fitted with a Lysholm supercharger. The cylinder-heads were well-fettled - including high-lift cams. When the Ford engineers finished, there was 550bhp on tap. Torque was massive - 0-60mph turning up in just 3.7s. The GT's body and space-frame chassis chipped in on the acceleration front, too - both being forged from light aluminium. Transferring torque to tarmac was independent, double-wishbone suspension.

Despite its power, this car was way more practical than its race predecessor. GT40 referenced height - all 40″ of it! The new GT was, at least, wider and longer. Performance-wise, too, the new car was more user-friendly. Those titanic torque stats translated to to-die-for acceleration. The GT, though, could mood-shift in an instant - cruising, seamlessly and effortlessly. A 6-speed transmission was there, if required. With the new GT, Ford had homed in on the ultimate all-rounder. To say the least, it took the sales fight to its rivals. A top speed of 204mph was more than competitive in supercar marketing terms. The Ford GT, then, was a nostalgia-laden celebration of speed!