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Thread: Which is the best Atom?

  1. #1
    n00b
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    Which is the best Atom?

    Having owned an Atom, a modified Atom (I changed the frame a little to accommodate some different suspension), an Atom 2/220 and an Atom 3/300 I guess I have a reasonable breadth of experience of the various cars.

    The original Atom was great. in 2001 it looked extraordinary - mind you, they still do! Of course it was flawed. As standard it came with 120bhp, which was reasonably quick, but I wanted more power, so opted for the 165bhp upgrade. It rattled quite a bit and with two large people in it it didn't really pull out of corners, but the 1.8 VVT Rover engine was incredibly light and it handled very well. I loaned my car to a Lotus engineer to tune the suspension - hence the mods.

    My second Atom, a 2/220, is so much quicker, smoother and better sorted than the Atom was. The MBE ECU means that the engine runs a bit rough at idle and it pops and bangs a bit. It still rattles quite a lot, but monitor earplugs sort that out. It feel racecar rough - and I like that. It vibrates through the chassis quite a bit too thanks to the hard engine mounts. I don't mind that - and women seem to like it quite a lot for some reason...

    My third Atom, a 3/300 is a company car and it's awesome. It's smooth, fast, beatuifully balanced and makes a delicious screaming noise with the supercharger coming on stream. It doesn't rattle or vibrate anything like as much as the 2. On longer trips it's less tiring and on the track it is quicker than most other metal - depending upon who's driving, of course!

    Although I didn't own one, I also drove an early Brammo Atom and whilst it looked like an Atom, and handled like an Atom on the Old Indian Road to be honest, I didn't like the lower rev limit. It didn't 'sing'; like I wanted an Atom to. Oh, and the brakes on that one were shocking as Dingo will attest as he drove it too!

    My favourite? It's still the 2/220. It's seven years old now, pops and bangs and spits fire if idling for too long, it rattles and shakes (but doesn't roll, as I have uprated suspension), and isn't anything like as good all round as the 3/300.

    But I am a firm believer that beauty lies in imperfection. And to me, the 2/220 is beautiful.

    Well done on the new forum, guys. I know how tough it is to get these things going and aplaud your efforts. I shalln't be here that much, but I'm around if you need me.

  2. #2
    Electron Karl's Avatar
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    Welcome!
    300hp K20A | "It'll never go, my dears! Not if he's had anything to do with it."

  3. #3
    Proton Terry Kennedy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce fielding View Post
    Although I didn't own one, I also drove an early Brammo Atom and whilst it looked like an Atom, and handled like an Atom on the Old Indian Road to be honest, I didn't like the lower rev limit. It didn't 'sing'; like I wanted an Atom to. Oh, and the brakes on that one were shocking as Dingo will attest as he drove it too!
    Welcome!

    For the number of things Brammo did right (like the alignment adjustment thimbles on the suspension), they also got a shocking number of things wrong - not all of which were with the car (I'm sure you've heard at least some of the Brammo/Simon spats). One of those things was the brakes on the cars they used for demos and press - the Sports Car International review said "The pads on our tester were either carved from nearby redwood trees or were glazed and in need of replacement; it nearly took both feet to slow the car from any significant velocity, and there was no feel whatsoever from the brake pedal." That's because the only car they got to drive in the main article was the Brammo demo/press car - this was in the summer of 2007 when I was having my $8500 "disagreement" with Brammo about servicing my Atom after the rod end had failed, so they didn't get to drive mine in time for the main article, just the sidebar about an an Atom in Manhattan. Article here (HUGE PDF!), from the now-defunct magazine.

    Any Honda-vs-GM engine comparison is ruined by what Brammo did with the "300". Technically, I don't know if there was anything more that they could do - by the time they took the issue seriously, GM was already planning to discontinue the supercharged EcoTec and Brammo never purchased the volume of engines that GM/GM Racing thought they would. In practical terms, Brammo stonewalled long enough that most 300 owners grudgingly accepted the lower-output tune. Had that dragged on even longer, we wouldn't have even received that.

    Having said that, some people prefer low-RPM grunt while others like what happens at very high revs. I must say that the Atom 500 at 10KRPM makes quite a beautiful sound.

  4. #4
    Neutrino MadMaxAtom's Avatar
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    The power of an Atom is a terrible thing to waste! Atom owner/operator since 2007. The more you chase perfection,the faster it becomes. John Force for President! (I asked him once in person...he laughed)

  5. #5
    Proton DarthChicken's Avatar
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    Agreed, the best Atom is the one that you have in your garage. The demo car's suspension was setup really well, but as everybody knows the brakes were crap. During my test drive they were trying to make them better by getting the balancing right - at one point they had me do a drive by and lock them up so they could see what was going on. Of course the front locked up, as the rear really had no brakes, lol.

    I agree with Bruce about the rev limit. The 6250rpm limit on the demo car was like having the car in valet mode. I've done work on mine that allows 7200rpm, and next winter the head is coming off for springs, porting, and cams. I want an 8k limit or higher!

    We all know about the suspension and handling (and the crap alignment from the factory). The brammo cars definitely needed some love there.

  6. #6
    Positron Gage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce fielding View Post
    My favourite? It's still the 2/220. It's seven years old now, pops and bangs and spits fire if idling for too long, it rattles and shakes (but doesn't roll, as I have uprated suspension), and isn't anything like as good all round as the 3/300.
    .
    I'm glad you signed up Bruce. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. It sounds like you really love a personality in your cars. I agree.
    "Opportunities do not come to those who wait; they are captured by those who attack."

  7. #7
    Hi, Bruce. Excellent topic for discussion - and one way to good to stay hidden in the "Welcome" forum. Moved to the "General" discussion forum so it can get the attention it deserves.

    Glad you're here!

  8. #8
    Neutrino Norm's Avatar
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    Welcome Bruce, thank you for the write up

  9. #9
    I definitely agree with Bruce. My frost Atom was a very early car and as delivered had lots of "character", some of which was extremely rare, even for an Atom. The cowl panel was asymmetrical - the bubbles were not the same distance from the car's centerline. The bonnet was trimmed on one side at it's rar edge, not on the opposite side.

    That bonnet went through the barbed wire fence (a whole 'nother story) and ended up being used as a signature piece at AtomFest. It bears the signatures of many of the Atom community known by us all, including Simon and the Atom factory team, Tom Symurzsky and of course a very colorful Spaz logo.



    I replaced the cowl and bonnet with later production parts, but in the process it lost a bit of it's unique nature.

    That car went to Road America, Road Atlanta, VIR (Ultimate Track Challenge), Blackhawks Farms and of course many visits to Hallet.



    It was featured in photos and videos created for fun and AtomFest promotion. It bore the scars of many track days, especially in the rear uprights, of which more than five replacements were made under my watch. I also went through at least four mufflers and two headers. I ran with Team Dynamics, Dymag and SS/C wheels and Yokohama, Dunlop, Avon, Hankook and Hoosier tires. I have long since lost track of how many different passengers sampled the Atomic thrill on the street and the track. It was the test-bed for Brammo catalytic converters and Unique Fabrication billet uprights and always came back for more. After trying several different brake pad compounds I settled on and became accustomed to fantastic braking. One day I had occasion to Eddie Hill's 300+ hp Atom at Hallett. When I returned to the pits I said "where did your brakes go?" He was using the original pad compound. What a huge difference!

    I really like my red-framed Atom. It has a beauty and refinement that by comparison seemed to make the first one crude, but I really miss her.
    Last edited by RandyLamp; April 23, 2011 at 11:16 AM.
    Rogers, Arkansas
    My Atoms are gone to new homes ...

  10. #10
    Proton DarthChicken's Avatar
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    Which brake compound did you end up settling upon Randy?

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