Atalanta Revival By RICHARD GUNN
An ambitious enthusiast has relaunched the Atalanta marque of the 1930s with a faithful replica of the advanced pre-war sports car, albeit now updated for the 21st century.
Atalanta Motors unveiled its new interpretation of the thoroughbred classic at the Royal Automobile Club in London’s Pall Mall, fittingly enough 75 years to the day after the original machine was launched in 1937. The car – which as closely as possible follows the design philosophy and styling of its illustrious predecessor – is the brainchild of Martyn Corfield, an aficionado of the marque, who regarded the short-lived company as “one of the greatest untold British Motoring heritage stories.”
The outbreak of World War Two ended production of the technically advanced and innovative Atalanta after just 21 cars had been built, although the name was revived after the war for glassfibre and kit cars, until 1958.
The 21st century cars, however, are complete coachbuilt machines, finished in aluminium with a traditional wood frame and a chassis weighing just 77kg. As far as possible, the engineering is as conceived by Atalanta in the 1930s, albeit revised with modern components where appropriate or necessary to comply with current regulations.
An original Atalanta was carefully scrutinised to get everything as accurate as possible. Power comes from a Ford 2.5-litre engine of 185bhp, coupled to a Borg-Warner five-speed manual gearbox (a Warner synchromesh overdrive ‘box was an option in 1937). However, at least 85 per cent of the car is produced in-house by Atalanta, at its premises in Staffordshire, close to where the first car was produced by Bean Industries. Great pride is taken in using British components, where possible.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point, but this date (the 75th anniversary of the first vehicle’s launch) was our deadline,” said Martyn, who also explained that the car has been three years in the planning. “By remaining true to the original Atalanta principles, we’ve recreated a thrilling experience, and have taken only the relevant aspects of modern automotive technology. It is a new old car!”
The covers were pulled off the car by Martyn and Roy Watson, son of one of the 1930s’ founders Neil Watson, heir to the Burma Oils fortune. “Martyn deserves all the credit for this,” Roy told Classic Car Weekly. “It’s great that somebody is so passionate about it that he decided to recreate it. But the car has to be exciting and fun to drive, and I’m sure this will be.”
The next step for the Atalanta is to be road-tested and put through IVA – Individual Vehicle Approval – tests. Price will be ‘sub-£100,000’ when production examples go on sale later this year.