Wheels24

Veteran Atalanta back - 75 years on

2012-03-13 09:03

LONDON, England – A new version of the Atalanta Sports Tourer with modern tech has been unveiled at the Royal Automobile Club here 75 years to the day since the original was first shown to the British public in 1937.

The cars, named after a mythical female Greek athlete, are being produced to order in a joint venture between Staffordshire-based motoring enthusiast Martyn Corfield and Cheshire-based restorer Trevor Farrington.

John Surtees, the only World champion on two and four wheels, was there: "It’s nice to see that enthusiasts still exist and are willing to put their heart and resources into such a project."

SPECIAL METALS

Corfield outlined the history of the marque and highlighted some of the many innovative technical features of the original Atalanta. His company's aim was “to fulfil the exacting requirements of professional and amateur drivers, on road and track”.

The original 1937 Atalantas had either a four-cylinder or V12 engine, independent, coil-spring suspension, adjustable shock-absorbers front and rear, hydraulic brakes, an electrically operated magnetic epicyclical gearbox (an early form of semi-auto), multivalve, twin-spark cylinder heads, selective engagement of a supercharger and used lightweight metals such as electron, duralumin and hiduminium alloy for many of the castings.

The cars were available in a variety of configurations, among them open two-seat sports car, a two-seat sports tourer, two-door fixed-head coupe, luxury two-door sedan and two-door drophead coupe.

Only 21 cars were assembled before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 forced the demise of the company.

COACH-BUILT ASH FRAME

Bringing the Atalanta back to life for modern road use required technology to make its performance and safety road-legal but the classic 1930’s English sports-car style was kept - tall, narrow tyres (for good driver “feel” and ride comfort) - but all the components are new, with more than 85% unique to Atalanta’s design (castings, stub axles, springs, steering), all packaged in traditional hand-crafted aluminium over a wooden (ash) coach-built structure.

Corfield added: "Our aim is to reproduce the positive and enjoyable characteristics of vintage motoring in a reliable and usable manner relevant to today’s driving environment.

“The 21st-century Atalanta gives a stylish, exhilarating drive, easily accessible performance and a comfortable ride with engaging handling that delivers driver satisfaction even at modest speeds.

“The car is about style, innovation and performance."

When the original Atalanta was unveiled 75 years ago it received many favourable reviews, such as these below.

“There is an individuality of both appearance and design in the Atalanta, a hand-built limited-production machine, which is establishing itself as a new make. An immediate point of interest is that it is the only normal production car at present built in this country with all four wheels sprung independently.” – Autocar, April 1939

and...

“The performance is terrific and backed up by superlative road-holding and cornering. The Atalanta went round bends at 80mph as though it was on rails. I wouldn’t mind betting that you have never been along a road faster– this was undoubtedly the case.” – Motorsport, March 1939

Only seven of the original 21 Atalantas exist, four of them on the road. Four owners of the 1930’s models were at the launch of the revived car, including Sarah and Barry Ward, who said afterwards:

"We both thought the car was fabulous and the colour combination was very striking and we like it very much. The finish looked very good, the dashboard looked modern and classic all at the same time as did the wheels, which are very attractive.

“There is nothing else like it."

Rory Watson, son of Neil Watson (one of the founders of Atalanta Motors in the 1930’s) helped Corfield unveil the new car. He said: "It was an emotional experience. I never thought something my father helped to create all those years ago would be revived with this new Atalanta."

Limited commissions for the 2012 Atalanta 'Revival' are being taken and each will be built to an individual specification as a unique vehicle.