GRR

ATS to return once more with new mid-engined supercar

15th August 2017
Bob Murray

The all-new TVR having its world debut at Revival this year is not the only sportscar coming back from the dead in the next few weeks. Also rising Phoenix-like is an all-new car from ATS. 

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No, not the tyre retailer. This is ATS as in the Italian company founded by disgruntled Ferrari alumni that briefly flickered in the early 1960s. ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport) may not have lasted long but it did produce the 2500 GT which took top billing at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show. 

Why wouldn’t it? Here was a great-looking racing car for the road apparently ready and able to take on the best that Ferrari could offer at the time. As you would expect of a machine designed and built by Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, both fresh from developing the Ferrari 250 GTO, and much else, with their former employer. 

As a two-seater coupe, the ATS 2500 GT also had a particular claim to fame. It was mid-engined. In 1963 – three years before the Lamborghini “first mid-engined supercar” Miura appeared – this was big news.

Chiti and Bizzarrini had started working on a mid-engined road car at Ferrari before Enzo pulled the plug on the project. The duo left in a huff and set up ATS to build their own dream machine. After which Ferrari soon produced the 250 LM…

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The LM, like the later Miura from Sant’Agata, had a V12 stuffed behind the seats, while the ATS 2500 GT made do with a V8, albeit quite a special one as you would expect from Carlo Chiti. All-alloy, single-cam and quad Webered, the 2.5 (and later 3.0) litre unit put out up to 300bhp. With all-independent suspension, all-disc brakes and a rear transaxle, it must have been quite a car. 

What then of the new ATS? Ahead of its unveiling at Salon Privé on August 31st details are still scarce but expect a mid-engined, carbon-fibre-dense two-seater coupe with a twin-turbo V8 coupled to a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox.

As for its looks, all ATS is saying at the moment is that the car, designed by Emanuele Bomboi, will “evoke the spirit of its predecessors”. Officially all we have to go on is the arty teaser image hinting at the car’s profile.

Unofficially we wonder if it is all not a million miles away from the last ATS “rebirth” when a handsome all-new 2500 GT was unveiled at Top Marques in Monaco just two years ago. This mid-engined V8 was reported to have a V8 with 640bhp at a heady 10,000rpm, good enough for 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 211mph.

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It never quite happened in 2015 – there was some dispute about ATS ownership and copyright – so fingers crossed this time round. ATS’s Daniele Maritan is confident, saying the Salon Privé unveiling will be “a pivotal day for ATS and our new supercar.”

One thing for sure, if the new car makes it, it will be a rare sight. Just 12 Italian hand-built cars are planned, the same number of original 2500 GT chassis made in the ‘60s, though there were only ever eight completed cars.

These ‘60s rarities surface occasionally. The last we know of was at an RM Sotheby’s sale in 2009 when the ex Pebble Beach and Villa d’Este 3.0-litre GT – actually the last ever ATS made in period – sold for £308,000.

  • ATS

  • Salon Prive

  • TVR

  • Ferrari

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