The Atom

The Atom was originally planned as a production car using some revolutionary ideas; however, it ended as a one-off prototype. The car was built around a cage of square tubes, onto which the aluminium body panels were attached – their design stunned the pre-war world.

Under the bonnet was a new 80bhp, 2.0-litre engine linked to a four-speed gearbox that was controlled using a small, dash-mounted controller. The suspension consisted of a conventional live axle with leaf springs at the back, and independent trailing arms and coil springs up front.

It was an impressive package which, had it gone into production, would have shaken up the motor industry. Sadly, the Second World War put paid to the plans.

Despite this, its development was continued in spare moments throughout the war. When Aston Martin went up for sale, the Atom was one of the company’s few assets. David Brown took it home for a few days driving and was so impressed, he bought the company. So if it hadn’t been for the little Atom, Aston Martin – assuming it survived – would be a very different company.

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