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    Thread: Guy builds Ariel Atom clone from "Junk?

    1. Member VTECeateR's Avatar
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      Oct 27th, 2000
      Bay Area, CA
      '12 GTI, '10 CC
      09-27-2008 01:01 PM #71
      I think I've seen this kid before.....


    2. Member Mooz!'s Avatar
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      Dec 30th, 2001
      Niagara Falls
      2005 Pontiac GTO 6.0L, 1999 2500 Suburban 6.5, 2003 Golf TDI
      09-27-2008 01:55 PM #72
      Quote, originally posted by subwoffers »
      That or Dumb, poor, unnecessary dangerous.

      I don't know about dumb, subwoffers.
      When I was a kid, I had dyslexia. I used to write about it in my dairy.
      6.0 LS2 6MT GTO 440whp/414wtq
      6.5 2500 Suburban 4x4
      1.9 TDI

    3. 09-27-2008 06:36 PM #73
      Quote, originally posted by kmead »
      How about looking at the actual build and then make snide comments?
      He has done some really excellent engineering and remarkable fabrication work.
      You are welcome to not like what he did stylistically or critique material choices, but until you can actually do something, how about keeping comments that would require you actually have some expertise, to yourself.
      You (Intalex) are a complete ignoramus who has offered next to nothing to advancing knowledge or ability on the face of the planet. How about doing something and showing us just how magnificent you and the things you do are? Or is a life of posting and playing twitch games preventing you from actually offering anything of value to society?

      Wow, settle down. I just thought it was funny that someone said this car, that hasn't been proven at all, proves the atom, which has been proven, is a POS. It was more of a tongue-in-cheek joke mirroring the ignorance of the poster I quoted.
      How about giving all the people who call the atom POS a nice little lecture too?
      run come save me

    4. Member warrenW's Avatar
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      Jan 21st, 2008
      2007 S2000
      09-27-2008 07:25 PM #74
      i like how this thread went downhill when it started from a really, really cool build.
      i dont see the issue with creating something that looks like something else. it happens ALL THE TIME. with lots of things.
      but the fact that he could create something like that from scratch is really, really cool.
      but if i were to choose between an atom or caterham, i would go with caterham. the atom is cool, but the caterham... the top version can also do 0-60 in 3 seconds. and i think it looks waay better.

    5. Member smetzger's Avatar
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      09-27-2008 08:29 PM #75
      Quote, originally posted by Chillininfl »
      Still wonder how he payed for all the stuff. I guess the obvious thought would be utah>mormons>big money>rich parents> fake atom?

      Doesn't look like it would have cost more than the typical upper middle class high schooler car. I know I'd be much more likely to spot my kid money to do something like this rather than getting a civic or a GTI and slamming it.
      Nothing to see here move along.

    6. Member radroc's Avatar
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      Dec 2nd, 2006
      Slumming it in Burbank
      09-27-2008 08:46 PM #76
      Quote, originally posted by subwoffers »

      "The Ariel Atom is an amazing car and a sure-fire way to lose your license in a hurry, but with a price tag north of 50 grand, it can be tough putting one in your driveway. Unless you build it yourself.
      That's just what one enterprising but so far anonymous gearhead in Utah did, cobbling together an impressive copy of the Atom from junk he had lying around. The body was fashioned from an old kayak and a doghouse. The stainless bits were recycled from old appliances, and the throttle assembly was pulled from a Dumpster. It's all attached to a frame that's fashioned from what looks to us like old steel pipe, and the engine was pulled from a junked Acura RSX.
      The builder, a college student known by his Flickr moniker Proximacentauri, spent 800 hours over the course of 15 months building the car, which offers impressive performance.
      Proximacentauri says his Ariel Atom clone, which he calls Z59, cranks out about 160 horsepower and does 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds - just under a second behind the real Atom. The car's street-legal and registered, and Proxicentauri claims it gets 35 mpg.
      You can follow the full build-up on his Flickr page, which is where we got the photos after first reading about the Z59 over at MAKE."

      His Flickr

      Modified by subwoffers at 4:52 PM 9-26-2008

      Shoot, I'll pay him up to $10k to make another!

      Modified by radroc at 5:48 PM 9-27-2008

    7. 09-29-2008 12:17 AM #77
      All right...there seem to be a few questions, so I'll do my best.
      First me:
      I'm an 18 year old former high school student (now in college). I built the car over a period of 15 months, as the many blogs say. I spent a grand total of around $11000. I spent my entire life savings ($4000 or so) and worked for two summers to support it. Last summer, my schedule: wake up at 8, work on the car for an hour, go to work, get back around 5, and work till midnight or 2 am. It wasn't much fun, but I had to get it done before college. Also, I did it almost entirely alone - my dad thought I was crazy and no-one else in my family has any engineering experience. I contracted out the metal bending and the suspension bits were lasercut, but that's about it. I built a welder out of microwave ovens, which would work for 7 seconds before the circuit breaker cut in. I ended up having to put in my own 220v line and buying a real welder, before learning to actually weld.
      yes, the components may not be spec for an Ariel Atom. First of all, Everything that is on the car is there because of price. The reason it isn't 300 HP? Price. The reason I don't have carbon fiber things? price. The reason the front and rear black panels are actually cutouts of common plastic objects? Again, price. Many of the components are actually race spec components. The steering rack is from an circle track car, the ball joints are the exact same as those in the Atom, The steering u-joints are from the racing company Sweet manufacturing. Also, in many cases, there are a couple improvements on the atom's design. The greatest improvement I made was in the bell-crank system in the suspension - I used tapered roller bearings in the cams. The atom uses phosphor-bronze bearings, which tend to wear out quickly. Also, the friction created by the bronze bearings requires the shock valving to be adjusted specifically to compensate. On my car, the shocks are from (presumably crashed) four yamaha R1s. The shocks don't have as much travel as those on the atom, but that's compensated with my cam system. Plus, you have to pay thousands more for the adjustable shocks in most race cars. The R1 shocks have 12 rebound and compression adjustments, as well as 200 lbs of preload adjustment or so. And, they're really pretty. And, they're around $30 each, compared to around 1000 each for a real one. They work just as well for what I'm doing. This is the same deal for basically every component in the car, from the shifter extensions to the throttle pedal I built from scratch. The only area where I didn't try to skimp was brakes. I'm using a Wilwood aluminum racing pedal set with four front Civic SI brakes.
      But before I continue with the comparisons, it's worth nothing that I didn't set out to copy the Ariel atom. I set out to build a car that looked like the ariel atom. The perceptive among you will notice that the difference is in the method. Instead of copying the atom step for step, part for part, I had a general goal in mind.

      As some of you saw, I did crash simulations on a rough outline of the frame. It turns out that because of the lack of doors, the frame design is actually incredibly safe. I actually used thicker steel than that on the real atom, but my welds are probably more suspect. The frame was one part where I didn't use "junk" as the blogs seem to say that I did. The frame is ERW 1018 steel. The roll bar material is 2.5" .120 DOM 1018 steel, which is larger that the steel used in most off-roader roll bars. The "Junk" was for several small things, like the body panels and the throttle pedal.
      I spent three months learning about, understanding, and designing the suspension. I can tell you pretty much every angle.
      KPI: 16 degrees.
      Caster: 12 degrees
      Roll center: 1.5 inches
      Bump Steer (theoretical): .001" toe in over 5" bump
      Bum Steer (measured: .1" toe out over 5" bump
      The Suspension was the hardest problem I've ever solved in my life.
      And so on and so forth. I had to deal with Camber gain in roll, ackerman compensation, scrub radius, steering axis, and around 10 more terms. I used a freeware program called Wishbone to do the suspension calculations. On a related note, I used Alibre Express (free!) to do the CAD model of the frame, and solidworks to do the suspension, once I found enough money to buy a real cad program.
      Also, the Atom uses custom-made knuckles. I don't have the fabrication capability to make my own knuckles (uprights if you're British) So I had to build the suspension around these knuckles. Since the Civic SI knuckles are designed for a macpherson strut, converting them to double wishbone took a good 20-30 hours, primarily in CAD design.
      Despite all this, it handles incredibly well. The steering is unbelievably sharp. The car doesn't randomly oversteer. The car is stable at 80 mph. (without alignment. I just eyeballed it, and it tracks almost straight) I haven't been on a race track, so I don't know if it oversteers or understeers.
      And finally, prettiness: I had two weeks to do all of the bodywork and the painting. Also, I don't have any of the normal sheet metal tools: I have a hacksaw and a belt sander. Weirdly enough, wood jigsaw bits cut stainless much better than metal jigsaw bits. Even when dull. Don't ask- I don't understand. Also, it's the first time I painted anything. The paint didn't turn out so well. By the time the bodywork and everything else was done, I had 4 days left. 1 day (8 to 2 am) disassembly, 1 day painting, and 2 days reassembly (also 8-2am or so). My goal was to finish it at that point, not to enter a car show.
      Once again, head on over to Locostusa to check out my build log. Also, check out my friend JonW's build log in the mid-engine vehicle build log "locost vtec atom." He has a lot more experience than me. For pictures, register at My log has a bunch of pictures
      Any other questions? I hope I've answered a few. If you want to hire me, I'm in college right now, but I have a couple summers available.

    8. Banned justanotherusername's Avatar
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      09-29-2008 12:23 AM #78
      Great work, great write up, an welcome to Vortex.
      I hope you're in school for some sort of engineering. Anything else would be a shame, and we need good engineers right now. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    9. Member Rukh's Avatar
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      Mar 25th, 2003
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      09-29-2008 01:58 AM #79
      proximacentuari - Welcome to TCL. I hope you took the asshats with a grain of salt. While your car might not be pretty, I'm sure it works very well for what you need it to do. I just recently decided to finally start the process of building my own car as well. Mine is going to be built in a similar vein to yours and other exocars, but will be a three-wheeler instead. Your build is very inspirational - I can only hope mine turns out as well.
      If you find yourself in Denver, let me know so you can stop by. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      HAVE/HAD: Mercedes, Porsche, Cadillac, Land Rover, VW (x5), Buick, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Dodge, Nissan, Ford, GMC, Jeep
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      Hudson Hornet, Porsche 964, Mini Cooper, Caterham SV, M-B CLS63 AMG, DeTomaso Pantera

    10. 09-29-2008 02:15 AM #80
      proximacentuari - very impressive, esp for someone your age. Truly impressed.

    11. Member Tomandante's Avatar
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      Jan 30th, 2004
      1992 E36 325is
      09-29-2008 02:20 AM #81
      Impressive and thank you to make time and post in CL.
      I wish I had the skill to build and design components to build my own car.
      I will buy you a beer at soonest you are 21yrs old. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      Sofa King uro

      Quote Originally Posted by Fritz27 View Post
      C'mon man, you know that criticizing wheel size is the de facto way to show your mettle as an elitist car snob.

    12. 09-29-2008 06:34 PM #82
      This is awesome. Period. I can't fathom why any car enthusiast would choose to criticize such a well-executed project.

    13. 09-29-2008 06:51 PM #83
      really amazing work, and i shot you an IM i want to see this thing and i'm like 40 mins from you

    14. Member RS4PD's Avatar
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      09-29-2008 06:57 PM #84
      He just OWNED evryone in TCL. We all know we all want to be him.
      Awesome project, let me know when Gordon Murray hires you. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      15 Odyssey;08 RS4; 07 GT3 RS
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    15. 09-29-2008 07:11 PM #85
      Dude you are a B@D@$$!! [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      I can't wait to see the next project car you build. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    16. 01-11-2009 01:53 PM #86
      Excellent work sir. I signed onto this forum just to reply to your post LOL. Ignore those guys being negative. I will pay you to build me one. Seriously. IM me. Was looking at purchasing an atom this year. 65K for something i'll drive 10 times a year? I'd rather pay you

    17. Member FujiTekniques's Avatar
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      1995 M3/1987 325is/1987 535is
      01-11-2009 02:06 PM #87
      Quote, originally posted by tehAndy »
      Not even a college kid.
      Did it in his senior year of high school
      Question to any TCL member: Did you do anything this cool in your senior year of high school?

      Started the ping pong club. Boo-YA, hello third tier school of my choice.
      I'm going to be working for this kid someday, so I'm going to start sending congragulatory emails now.

    18. Member MCTB's Avatar
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      '12 Focus SE, '72 MGB GT, '58 MGA, '15 Outback Limited
      01-11-2009 03:39 PM #88
      Quote, originally posted by RS4PD »
      He just OWNED evryone in TCL. We all know we all want to be him.
      Awesome project, let me know when Gordon Murray hires you. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

      hahaha, so true. very nicely done and something that i would love to do but ill stick with improving cars i already have. not as exciting but whatever. as for the "world class" parts arguement, thats dumb. nothing says that he cant upgrade the parts when he has the dough, right? as he said, hes already improved on an atom practice so nothing stops him from continuing the "evolution" that caterham owners love to tout so much.
      nicely done and keep building stuff. ill eventually build something from scratch, probably bike powered but, until then, ill admire the people who have taken something that i dream about and are making it a reality.
      Looking for a car event on the East Coast? Check here

      Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now.


    19. Moderator Flyin18T's Avatar
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      Jan 10th, 2001
      Long Island
      01-11-2009 07:57 PM #89
      Awesome job. [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      2012 MKVI Jetta GLI / 2008 Civic Si Sedan / 2007 Mazdaspeed 6 / 2004 MKIV Jetta GLI (1.8T) / 1996 MKIII Jetta GLX VR6

    20. Banned
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      Sep 16th, 2008
      01-11-2009 08:01 PM #90
      Quote, originally posted by subwoffers »
      That or Dumb, poor, unnecessary dangerous.

      its safe but takes some getting used to

    21. 01-11-2009 08:43 PM #91
      Quote, originally posted by koko12 »
      prove the Ariel Atom is an overpriced POS.

      You've GOT to be kidding me! Nissan may be trying to compete w/ Porsche with their Skyline but the Atom still blows both cars away in everything but top speed and is cheaper than either car.
      Quote Originally Posted by Turbio!
      I'd plow her like a cornfield. HNNNNG

    22. 01-11-2009 09:16 PM #92
      When I was 18 I was trying to ollie down 9 stairs,this kid build a car haha. He should be picked up by some car company and given a job today!

    23. 01-11-2009 09:22 PM #93
      This Thread is an instant TCL classic! One of the most interesting things I've seen in this forum by far. Congrats on this accomplishment.

    24. Member B3passatBMX's Avatar
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      93 525iT, 91 318iS, 99 CRV
      01-11-2009 09:33 PM #94
      Awesome to see the builder on here. Great work, for someone your age, you probably have far more skills than 80% of the monkey's knocking your build in this thread. Nice work [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] Don't mind the haters.
      Quote Originally Posted by Rutledge View Post
      Well, then, I'm here to "ruin" the vortex for you. I'm sorry you hate fun.
      91 318is M50 Swapped
      99 Honda CRV

    25. Banned patrikman's Avatar
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      01-11-2009 09:39 PM #95
      damn...the haters got quiet real fast. sweet car man, you are a legend amongst men. what will you build next? [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    26. 01-11-2009 09:45 PM #96
      Quote, originally posted by proximacentuari »
      Good words.

      You rock!
      That's all.

    27. 01-11-2009 09:51 PM #97
      You should have combined forces with the other Salt Lake City area faux Atom.

      When I first saw this and saw you were from Utah, I thought maybe it was a joke, someone trying to take credit for Superlite's Atom style car. That, or you were the one who built it for them. But there are differences in chassis design which are pretty evident.
      Small world this is. Did you know of their project before you started yours?

    28. 01-11-2009 09:59 PM #98
      Man that's an awesome job.
      Did you ever think of pulling an engine out of a liter bike for it? Or maybe a wrecked Cobalt SS Turbo?
      The R1 shocks -- wow, great idea on a budget.
      I wish I could do that.

    29. 01-11-2009 10:06 PM #99
      Quote, originally posted by VTECeateR »
      I think I've seen this kid before.....


      I KNEW he looked familiar!

    30. Member
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      Orange County, CA
      01-11-2009 10:14 PM #100
      If they have a Formula SAE team at his college, I think they just got themselves a winner.

    31. Member Deserion's Avatar
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      01-11-2009 10:23 PM #101
      Quote, originally posted by proximacentuari »
      All right...there seem to be a few questions, so I'll do my best.

      All I can say is that you did a fantastic job. Well done! [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    32. 01-11-2009 11:18 PM #102
      Quote, originally posted by tehAndy »
      Question to any TCL member: Did you do anything this cool in your senior year of high school?

      I'm 36 and I've never done anything remotely as cool as this project, and I doubt I ever will.

    33. 01-11-2009 11:38 PM #103
      Quote, originally posted by Intalex »
      Yep, welded-up scaffolding with a blanket stretched over the hood surely put the Atom in it's place. Yes sir.


    34. 01-11-2009 11:45 PM #104
      i want a frame similiar to this, but with a vw bug front suspension (it works for formula V, so why not. and maybe a cheap vw or honda FWD drivetrain mounted in back.. but i figured mr2 engine and tranny would work best, since the shift linkage is already figured out for rear engine.

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