As we’re gearing up towards the holiday season, it’s important to sit back and unwind now and then. And even though we have plenty of watch news to keep you informed on the latest and greatest watches, our weekly Petrolhead Corner series provides a different type of entertainment. We cover everything that piques our interest in the motoring world for a little break in the onslaught of watch stories. This weekend, we have some video viewing pleasure lined up for you as well, with three wickedly cool cars featured on the Top Gear YouTube channel: the Ariel Atom 4R, the GMA T.50 and the Singer x Tuthill ACS Porsche 911.
Whenever I write these compilation stories, I try to mix things up in terms of sources or types of cars. And while I have done the latter this time around, they’re all featured on the Top Gear channel, as mentioned in the intro. But, as you will see when you check out the videos down below, the cars couldn’t be further apart from one another. We have the featherweight Atom 4R track weapon by Ariel, the incredible GMA T.50, and a bonkers offroading 911 from Singer and Tuthill. So sit back, relax, and enjoy today’s slice of automotive entertainment!
The Ariel Atom 4R
Ariel and Top Gear are a match made in heaven, especially since the original Ariel Atom tried to rip Jeremy Clarkson’s face off some fifteen years ago and had us laughing out loud. Ever since that original Atom, things have not changed much on paper, but in fact, Ariel has been perfecting its concept of the ultimate track weapon ever since. This latest generation of the Atom called the Atom 4, is wider and longer than before, resulting in a bit more creature comfort in terms of how well you can fit inside one. All that is relative, though, as you’re still almost completely exposed to the elements and restrained by a racing harness and how hard you dare to push it.
With the Atom 4R, though, Ariel has upped the insanity even further as you still get the 2.0 litre turbocharged (taken out of a Honda Civic Type R) from the ‘regular’ Atom 4, but now with 400bhp thanks to massively improved cooling efficiency. And it has to deal with less than 600 kilos! That means you hit 100kph (60mph) in just 2.7 seconds, 160kph (or 100mph) in 6.5 seconds and can plough on to a top speed of 275kph (170mph). So yes, it’s even faster than before. But if it’s not enough, you can ask Ariel nicely if they can up the power even more, with the max being 550bhp. You’d be mad to do so if you ask me, though, since this razor-sharp machine is already capable of instance speeds with the ‘standard’ 400bhp.
The Atom 4R starts at just under GBP 80,000, but the options list is as extensive as it is expensive. Kit it with carbon brakes, an aero kit and other stuff, and you’d be looking at a sticker price of more than 100k – easily. What you get in return is a car that can run circles around most other cars during a track day! And mind you, it’s road legal in the UK and most other countries so you can pop down to the shops for some groceries.
The GMA T50
South African Gordon Murray is a name any Petrolhead should be familiar with, a legend within the automotive industry. Not only is he the father of the iconic McLaren F1, but he’s also responsible for many successes in Formula 1 working for the Woking-Based McLaren F1 team. Just remember the Brabham BT46 fan car that was so fast it was outlawed after just one race, or the McLaren MP 4/4 he developed. Yet, the McLaren F1 supercar is often cited as his greatest achievement, and we wholeheartedly agree with that. Gordon, however, thought it was about time to best the concept of what once was the fastest production car in the world. In comes the GMA T.50!
The T.50 is not developed under the McLaren name but is a development entirely managed by Gordon Murray himself, under the badge of Gordon Murray Automotive, or GMA. The car has been in development for several years but is close to being delivered to 100 incredibly fortunate clients. Looking at pictures of the GMA T.50 makes it clear that this is designed as a follow-up to the F1. It has the same general shape, a naturally aspirated V12 in the back, as well as a central driving position. What stands out, though, both technically and aesthetically, is that great big fan in the middle of the car around the back.
Similar to the principles of cars like the Brabham BT46 or the Chaparral 2J, the fan in the back of the T.50 is designed to extract air from underneath the car and improve its aerodynamic efficiency. The result is staggering, as pairing it with adjustable underbody ducts, intakes, flaps, a big diffuser and tunnels means this car can create unprecedented levels of downforce without the need for monstrous wings and splitter. That means it’s both pretty, somewhat subtle even, but also manageable enough to drive on public roads! With a weight of just under a ton (968 kilos, to be precise), it’s purely devoted to delivering the best possible driving experience. But given the fact it has around 660bhp on tap and a red line of 12,100rpm (you need to hear this car, it sounds insane!), it’s far from a slouch!
The Singer x Tuthill ACS Porsche 911
Last but certainly not least is a bonkers collaboration between Californian custom Porsche builders Singer Vehicle Design and Tuthill Porsche, an engineering company from Oxfordshire, UK, that specialises in bespoke Porsche 911 restorations. While both Singer and Tuthill are experts in their field, the two have joined forces for a very special client for not one but two mind-blowing Porsche 911s. One of those two, the Singer x Tuthill ACS is built for some serious offroading, while its counterpart is aimed towards on-road hooliganism. The cars were first revealed a couple of years ago, but Top Gear recently had the unique chance to thrash around in the ACS.
The Singer x Tuthill ACS is based on an air-cooled 964-generation Porsche 911 (originally built between 1989 and 1994) and extensively modified into a desert raid car. It has seriously lifted rallying suspension, huge offroad tires from BF Goodrich, an integrated FIA-spec roll cage, carbon fibre bodywork and so on. The engine has been modified as well, and the 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six pumps out roughly 450bhp. Permanent all-wheel drive will (hopefully) keep you pointed in the right direction, with the integrated rear spoiler pushing the back wheels into the dirt for added grip and stability.
On the inside, the madness continues with a neon-orange and black paint scheme, racing seats, a gear stick to punch through the gears and a hydraulic handbrake to throw the cars in an endless drift whenever you want. Since it was first released, some changes have been made, as the extended flaps on the front bumper have been removed. The images portray the car when Top Gear first covered it, while the video has been shot quite recently. Ever since it was released there have been some legality issues with Porsche regarding this car, mainly focussing on Porsche branding, and some changes have been made to it to comply. While such cars are reserved for the ultra-rich only, I applaud the fact its owner doesn’t treat it as a garage queen and allows Top Gear to share this masterpiece with the rest of the world!