When you think of drop-dead gorgeous Italian supercars, your mind probably leaps to names like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani. But what about Automobili Turismo e Sport? Formed by a team of ex-Ferrari employees, the company only developed one road car, and collapsed shortly after being founded. Now, the badge is back.
The team behind the modern ATS artfully avoided going into detail about why the brand was founded in the '60s, but we aren't particularly artful, so here it is.
Ferrari dominated the 1961 F1 season, but a group of eight directors and engineers were unhappy with how the company was being run. The group had an issue with the amount of influence exerted over the company by Enzo's wife, Laura Dominica Garello Ferrari. The man in charge clearly didn't see a problem, and didn't waste time trying to appease the group of unhappy employees. He fired them all, citing an "over evaluation of relevance to marginal facts that have nothing to do with the normal operation of a company."
Rather than trying to find jobs elsewhere, the ex-employees decided to hit Enzo where it hurt: on the track. Automobili Turismo e Sport was promptly formed, and set about developing an F1 car for the fast-approaching 1962 F1 season. The team ran two cars in five Grands Prix, and retired from four of them. Its best finish was 11th place, and the program was abandoned early in 1963.
Along with the racing program, the company set its sights on creating a successful road-car business on the back of the mid-engined ATS 2500 GT. It was launched at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, and holds the mantle as the first mid-engined road car to reach production. Power came from a 90-degree V8 displacing just 2.5-liters and the car was capable of pushing beyond 150 mph (241 km/h). The GT was meant to be followed by a lighter, more powerful 2500 GTS which would see power jump from 220 to 260 hp (164 to 194 kW), and top speed increase from 150 to almost 165 mph (257 km/h), but the car never saw production.
Unfortunately, the failed F1 program came back to haunt ATS. The company folded in 1964 having built just 12 cars.
The ATS GT you see here was created by Emanuele Bomboi and Daniele Maritan. The two crossed paths at the 2014 Bologna Motor Show, and set about creating a modern car that captured the spirit of the original 2500 GT.
There's no doubt it's very pretty, with a clear link to the 2500 GT that inspired its creation. The nose is low and wide, with a simple splitter and rounded-off triangular headlights that loosely mirror the shape of those on the original. There are racing stripes running straight down the middle of the car, while red detailing highlights the fascinating shapes that dominate the profile. More on those in a second.
Down back, the designers have paid less attention to the classic GT's looks. The modern car doesn't have a rear window, just like the original, but the active rear spoiler – which flips up like an airbrake under braking – is one of a few choices that distance it from its '60s inspiration. The giant, round brake lights and sweeping diffuser remind us of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, while the oversized mesh grille brings the McLaren P1 to mind. It's very pretty, don't get us wrong, but the nose is definitely more faithful to the original than the rear end.
In profile, the most interesting part of the ATS GT is a line running from behind the wheel arch, along the lower sill and up and over the rear haunches. Offset against the silver paint in bright red, the shape cuts into the rear three-quarter window and along the windows, a touch designed to evoke aerodynamic profile of the '60s GT. Forget about doorhandles, the GT instead has sensors hidden in the flanks to open the doors, just like the McLaren MP4-12C when it launched.
Inside, a major focus has been placed on nailing the science of ergonomics. The driver is faced with a thin TFT instrument cluster, and configures the powertrain, suspension, and rear wing with controls in the "heart" of the dashboard. The infotainment system makes use of Google maps, and wireless charging means anyone with Qi in their phone doesn't need to plug in. ATS claims the professional "Prima Orchestra" hi-fi system is a world-first in cars.
Power comes from a twin-turbo V8 engine with 478 kW (650 hp) in base trim, or 515 kW (700 hp) with an optional upgrade. Peak torque is pegged at 678 Nm (500 lb-ft) in the standard car, or 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) with the boosted engine. Power is put to the rear wheels through a seven-speed sequential gearbox, for a top speed north of 206 mph (332 km/h) and a 0-97 km/h (60 mph) time of 3.0 seconds. The GT doesn't slow down from there, hitting 194 km/h (120 mph) in 9.9 seconds.
Each ATS GT will be built to order, giving owners control over the materials and colors on the interior and exterior of their cars. No two are likely to be the same, and reports suggest prices will start around £1 million (US$1,293,000), so only the super rich need apply.
Source: Automobili Turismo e Sport
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