Words | Photos: Drew Larrigan
I’m headed to Crewkerne to meet the man behind automotive excellency, Simon Saunders. Simon is the founder of Ariel Motor Company, he started the company in 1991 with a background as a designer for Porsche, Aston Martin and GM. Simon has welcomed me in the past making the product line very available. On this visit I was interested in the recently revealed Ariel Nomad. It is a perfect vehicle for the forest roads here in the Seattle area.
Take the M3 west from London, as you travel along the motorway you will reach Stonehenge. From here, you are getting close to the Ariel Motor Company in Crewkerne, a 2-hour drive from London Heathrow. Once you exit the motorway the roads become tight with high hedges as you roll through endless grasslands. Driving the roads around Ariel’s factory, it is easy to envision yourself in the very quick and compact Ariel Atom carving these roads.
The Ariel Motor company caters to a niche market. To date they offer three products. The Ariel Atom, a two-seater open cockpit street car, the Ariel Nomad, a no nonsense off-road buggy type vehicle and the Ariel Ace, a fully customizable road-bike.
As Simon guides me through the factory, his team is welcoming, and take the time to describe what project they are working on. One engineer is putting finishing touches on an Atom to be delivered that day, others piecing together the Ace. The small team of engineers are working at full capacity, as this is the first time three products have been offered by Ariel Motors.
There is a bit of madness here. But the right kind. As the day continues, I hear of stories about owners who prefer to drive with a helmet and those which prefer no helmet and comparisons of the capabilities of the V8 Atom over the more approachable 4-cylinder version. The debate over no wing versus the large wing and windscreen versus no windscreen is heated. Every Ariel is designed exactly to the client’s spec, so you will be hard pressed to find identical cars produced.
Their adrenaline seeking client list ranges from doctors, engineers, business leaders, racing drivers and automotive purists. To date, the Ariel Atom is their most popular and successful product. The Ariel Atom famously took Jeremey Clarkson on Top Gear for a ride of his life. Jay Leno also was one of the first to take delivery of the Atom in America.
Every owner I’ve met truly loves their Atom. Each time I’ve had the privilege to drive the car it has taken a week for the adrenaline to fade out of my system. Here at eGarage we love the Ariel Atom. Our team has driven down the coast, in the mountains, through the rain and even have Bronx our office Rottweiler ride shotgun to lunch in the Atom.
The automotive space is a complicated one; stuffy with lawyers, safety recalls, and economical business decisions. It seems the Ariel Motor Company is disconnected from the direction others are going. And that is awesome, and why we love them. Being cautious or economical is simply not in Ariel Motors’ DNA. Chasing top speed, cutting edge technology, or advancement in safety isn’t their game either. The engineers at Ariel Motors are building machines that raise our blood pressure, spark our endorphins and creating machinery that turns any driving road into a full out thrill ride.