Those who weren't among the half-dozen anxious souls who had an Atom on order as its former U.S. builder, Brammo Motorsports, closed its doors are excused for missing the track toy's one-year hiatus. The builder's baton has since been passed to TMI AutoTech, a recently formed U.S. subsidiary of Canadian firm Trak Motorsports, which ran the Ariel atom Experience [Upfront, October 2007] and, in March 2008, set up operations in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse on the grounds of Virginia International Raceway. The first Atom emerged in January from TMI's facility, where the steel-tube frame is bent and welded and the car is painstakingly hand-built by the company's five employees. TMI plans to produce 50 cars this year and with additional staff, 100 the next.
This latest Atom 3, as distinguished from the first model sold here, Brammo's Atom 2, is now essentially identical to the version built in the U.K. and sold in the rest of the world. Changes include Honda-only powertrains—the majority of Atom 2s were powered by the Chevy Cobalt's supercharged 2.0-liter—as well as seemingly small but important tweaks such as specifically tuned Bilstein shocks that replace the off-the-shelf Konis, and slight modifications to the frame, suspension, and seats.
The base price has increased significantly, to $65,000, and the options list, as before, is long. Our car had most of the performance-enhancing goods, including Alcon four-piston brakes ($3975), 10-way-adjustable shocks ($2720), and one of the most popular options, a nonintercooled Jackson Racing supercharger ($8500) that adds 7 psi of boost and 55 horsepower.