The American Ariel Atom Is a Corvette-Powered Miata with an Exoskeleton

The American Ariel Atom Is a Corvette-Powered Miata with an Exoskeleton 1 photo
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
We are here to bring you an answer to a question that perhaps nobody asked - what would happen is America built its own Ariel Atom? The answer comes from a company called Exomotive and, to put it shortly, we are offered a Corvette-powered Miata with an exoskeleton.
The story goes back to 2003, when the British kit car manufacturer Mills Extreme Vehicles (MEV) was founded. Fast forward to 2011, the US company Exomotive became the US distributor of MEV’s Exocet track animal. One thing led to another and Exomotive started building its own kit cars, with the current one being a rather extreme evolution of earlier models.

Here’s how Exomotive describes the birth of their four-wheeled goodies: “The build progression is simple: strip down the body of a donor 1990-2005 Mazda Miata, remove the wiring harness, unbolt the front and rear sub-frames and lift off the old body with an engine hoist. You will be left with the entire mechanical underpinnings of the Miata.

Next, rivet the floors on to the Exocet chassis, install the brake/fuel lines and bolt the new exoskeletal Exocet chassis to the donor drivetrain. Now re-install the steering column, instruments, wiring harness, parking brake, fuel tank, seats and seat belts. Most builds are completed in about 100 hours. No welding, special tools or alterations to donor components needed. You don’t even need to take the engine out,” the company brags.

Nonetheless, for their latest toy they did remove the engine

The explanations above are for their basic kits, but the Exocet website mentions the muscle level sits between 100 and 700 ponies. Well, for that extreme last part, the small crew has recently installed a GM LS3 crate engine (you may know the V8 from the C6 Corvette).

The thing has 525 hp and is matted to a T56 six-speed manual, while the power is sent to the rear wheels via a limited-slip diff taken from a Cadillac CTS-V, which uses 3.23 gearing. To get an idea on the quickness of the thing, you should know it tips the scales at about 1,750 lbs (790 kg).

It’s not exactly an Atom V8

Since it has vee eight powah, the Exocet XP5 (Experimental Prototype #5) would compete against the Ariel Atom V8. We haven’t driven the American dream madness, but, as far as we can tell from the specs, the Biritish machine seems fairly superior. For one thing, the Atom V8 has 500 horses and tips the scales at just 1210 lbs (550 kg).

Then there’s the weight distribution. While the Atom comes with a 911-like level of rear bias, the XP5 places over 50 percent of its mass over the front axle.

Oh and we’re not quite sure about the accuracy of the engineering that went into the Windows-named machine. Why? Here’s what its designer says about it “With a driver the weight distribution is likely around 55% front. A similar car built with an even heavier engine (LSA) has no issues accelerating or handling, so I'm not worried. There's a newer kit available that pushes the engine back almost 2 inches, but according to my calculations, this should still be good for about 1.3-1.35g of longitudinal acceleration with those 205 BFG Rivals. I think it will be fast ‘enough’.

The Atom isn’t the friendliest of machines, but the designer’s talk simply seems a bit too loose around the tolerances. Oh well, we’re pretty sure this is a lot of fun and they’re also planning to make it road legal. Until that happens, you can checkou the walkaround clip below.

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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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