A well-kept secret

If you want to buy arguably the fastest road-legal car in the world and indeed see it in production, where do you go?  Germany, Italy, America?  Well, just outside Crewkerne, in very discreet premises with no big sign outside, lies the Ariel Motor Company where the Ariel Atom, Nomad and Ace are made.  Brue Valley Rotary were lucky enough to visit this very quiet car plant (if you can call it that) where every car is hand-built by one person.

Ariel’s roots go all the way back to 1870 when they started making a revolutionary type of penny farthing, then other bicycles.  With the invention of the internal combustion engine, they moved on to motorbikes and a few cars, always with an eye to speed, excitement and winning competitions.  Sadly, by the 1970s production ceased and the company shut down.

In 1999 the name was resurrected by Simon Saunders, a lecturer in transport design who had developed the “no doors, no roof, no screen” concept, to produce the first Ariel Atom and the rest is history.  This is a very small company that only makes about 100 cars a year and they plan to stay like that.

13 of us were treated to a fascinating tour of the premises, with a little museum, the production area and servicing.  Our host, Ben Gunn, spent an hour and half with us, explaining in an engaging manner every aspect of the company’s history, current production and future plans.  We even got him to show us how to get in and out of a Nomad!

The eagle-eyed observer might notice at the back of the photo of the Ace motorbike two interesting body panels – one with “Stig” on it and the other in police livery.  I think our president elect owes us an explanation!

This was a morning visit and afterwards we retired to The Feed Station in Merriott for lunch.

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