The Big Car Database


Industry Automotive
Founded 2001
Founder Simon Saunders
Crewkerne, Somerset
United Kingdom
Area served
Products Automobiles Motorcycles
Number of employees
Ariel Atom at Goodwood

Ariel Motor Company Ltd is a low-volume performance motor vehicle manufacturing company in Crewkerne, in Somerset, England.

Founded by Simon Saunders in 1991 as Solocrest Ltd., the name was changed in 1999 to Ariel Motor Company Ltd. The original Ariel Motors remains as the trading company of the Ariel Owners Motorcycle Club (AOMCC) Ariel Motorcycles firm. Ariel Motor Company is one of the UK's smallest automotive companies, with just 19 employees, producing up to 100 cars per year.

The company manufactures the Ariel Atom, an extremely light, high performance car, powered by a Honda Civic Type-R engine and gearbox. The Atom is the world's first road-going exoskeletal car; it has no bodywork or roof, and is built entirely around the tube chassis, making it weigh less than 500 kg (1,102 lb). This means that the latest model, the Ariel Atom 3.5R supercharged model has a power-to-weight ratio of around 700 bhp (520 kW) per tonne.

In June 2014, the company announced the new Ariel Ace motorcycle. Powered by a Honda 1237cc V4 engine and gearbox, the bike will be produced from 2015 in similar volume levels to the existing car-based products.

In January, 2015, Ariel introduced the Nomad, a buggy designed along the same principles as the Atom, at the Autosport International Show. The Nomad utlises a 2.4 litre Honda engine producing 235bhp. 

From a 48" wheel 'penny farthing' bicycle with the first and patented spoked wheel in 1870 to the iconic vehicles of today, Ariel have always put design and innovation at the forefront of development. Synonymous with the history of the motor industry from the very first days of transport, Ariel now thrive as manufacturers of unique as well as the fastest and most interesting vehicles in the world. From bicycle to motorcycle, from quadricycle to sports car, Ariel remain unique. A 150 year old heritage with a truly 21st Century focus.

Ariel Motor Company History

In the late-nineties, while a lot of car manufacturers looked to the past to style their cars, the Ariel name returned to a sports car that looked like it belonged to a new millennium.

Over fifteen years later Ariel Motor Company continues to go from strength to strength. Crafting small numbers of hand-built sports cars and motorcycles from their Somerset factory that sell around the world. Ariel continue to prove that low-volume, hand-built, car manufacturing is alive and well, and as viable today as it was 100 years ago.

Ariel Motor Company Origins

Ariel is a historic name dating back to the early days of the motor industry. Their motorcycles are famous but less well known is that they also made cars, including Grand Prix cars and an Ariel entered in the first ever race at Brooklands. Sadly, after over a century, the name disappeared in the mid seventies, it’s fate entwined with the rest of the British motorcycle industry.

Ariel Motor Company as we know it today, was started by Simon Saunders, an automotive designer and consultant, whose cv. includes work for many of the world’s car and bike manufacturers, big and small. In the late nineties he decided to put “his money where his mouth is”, acquired the Ariel name and set about realising the ambition of creating his own vehicle. The Ariel Atom was born.

Ariel Motor Company’s first car

Ariel’s first prototype was smaller than the Atom production car, with a different chassis and bodywork. Power came a Ford Puma engine, the tyres extremely skinny 135/70×15 and, like a racing car, the driver sat directly on the car floor, which was moulded into a seat.

Adjustment and safety dictated the car grow bigger for production but the basic ingredients were right and Ariel used the knowledge gathered from the prototype in the re-design for the first, Rover K series powered, production Atom.

The Ariel Atom was launched in 1999, a ‘Lotus 7’ for the new Millennium. Interest in track days was growing quickly in the 1990’s and Ariel’s first car was what track day enthusiasts had been waiting for.

The Ariel badge

The Ariel ‘A’ logo was designed by Simon Saunders on the back of a book cover on a train journey to London. As regards a meaning, it has many (or perhaps none) – the letter A, a plan view of a car, the road disappearing into the distance, an aerodynamic suggestion,

Ariel Motor company today

Until 2014 the Atom was the only model Ariel manufactured, although it has evolved through many different forms over the years – Atom, Atom 2, Atom 3, Atom V8, Atom Mugen and now Atom 3.5.

In June 2014 Ariel launched the Ace motorcycle and in January 2015 the Nomad, which starts production in April 2015.

The Atom club organises events for Ariel owners and fans in the UK. Please see Ariel Clubs page for more information.


Ariel Ordinary

Two speed gears, 48"" front wheel
Patented spoke tension hubs
Lightweight all steel construction


Ariel Quadricycle

Dion 344cc engine, Watercooled head
2 seater, 3 wheel single seat option
Elyptical springs, pneumatic tyres


Ariel Grand
Prix Racer

2,325cc 4 cylinder engine
2 seater
1100 kilos



Simplex 3,000cc engine
4 seater aluminium body


Ariel 5-6

Single cylinder engine
670cc 5-6 hp
3 speed gearbox


Ariel Model E
Super Sports

500cc Twin port engine
3 speed gearbox
Hand gearchange


Red Hunter

500cc single cylinder
27bhp, 4 speed gearbox
Magneto ignition



500cc Single cylinder
Magnesium crankcase
Burman 4 speed gearbox


Square 4

1000cc 4 cylinder engine
Twin crankshafts, 42bhp 
Anstey link rear suspenspension



250cc, 20 bhp 2 stroke twin cylinder engine
Pressed steel frame
Trailing link front forks


Healey 4

1000cc 4 cylinder engine
Cradle frame, swing arm rear suspension



Rover K Series engine
1800cc, 120 - 190bhp
5 speed gearbox


Atom 2

Honda K20A engine
160 - 300bhp
6 speed gearbox


Atom 3

Honda K20Z 2.0L Engine
245-300bhp Supercharged
Revised chassis and suspension



V8 3.0L or 3.2L
475bhp or 500bhp
0-60mph in 2.3 seconds


Atom 3.5

Honda K20Z4 2.0L Engine
245 - 315bhp supercharged
Revised chassis and lighting



Honda 1237cc V4
6 speed or DCT transmission



2.4 K24 Honda 2.4L engine
6 speed transmission


Atom 4

2.0 K20C Honda 4 cylinder i-VTEC
6 speed transmission