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Thread: Atom 3S @ or Vette Z06?

  1. #1
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    Atom 3S @ or Vette Z06?

    I used to do a lot of auto-crossing, primarily with the Vette set and a little with SCAA. I've been a fan of the Ariel Atom for about 5 years since I first saw the Top Gear Review. I'm not a fan of the price as it has sky-rocketed since five years ago and strangely the performance has remained unchanged. Hmmm. Oddly the top end Corvettes are doing the opposite. Performance and luxury/tech appointments have dramatically improved, but the price is going lower. Case in point, the 2013 ZR1 @ $105-120k vs. the 2015 Z06 @ $78-108k.

    The Atom 3S and the new 650 hp Corvette Z06 are in the same price realm. The current Z06 is 3.3 0-60 car with a dramatically more comfortable and well-appointed driving environment. Now the open air is no longer an excuse since the new Z06 has convertible or removable targa. I love the Atom, but when I get cash in hand, which option will bring more bang?

    Let's face it, the real question is, for the .5 sec 0-60 difference, is it worth giving up a car that I can take on comfortable cross country road trips for two with luggage. The Atom 3S at the $90k price point offers a very niche solution for adrenaline rush experiences. Since I'm not Jay Leno... well, I'm not. I have to choose wisely where my hard earned cash goes. It's either the super fun (way-over priced) street legal go-cart or the amazing bargain priced (and practical) super car with convertible or targa, automatic / standard options. Since I'm a red-blooded American, the Honda-powered cart may very well get trumped by the 650 hp 650 ft/lb Chevy motor.

    When I compare the tangibles between the two vehicles using the 2015 Z06 as the comparison price point, I appraise the Atom's value at no more than $35k and that's being generous. They might lure me in with that. If Chevy were mass producing such a toy, it would be 18-28k. I get it. The Atom maker is a small business and the techs gotta make money. This is a richer man's toy and I'm not a richer man. Unless someone can convince me where my argument is flawed, my money is going to the Z06, once they redesign the butt-ugly rear facia.

  2. #2
    Neutrino MadMaxAtom's Avatar
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    If I were you,I'd buy the Corvette,so it seems. On paper..it sure is the best choice. However,some things can't be measured on paper.

    The Atom is more like a 4 wheeled sport bike than a car.The only thing it can't do is lean. (A lot safer than a bike,though..)

    It may not be the "fastest" thing out there,but it sure is an amazing pleasure to climb in one...and drive,every time.

    The sense of speed is hard to describe and the feel for the road is mesmerizing.

    Visceral imput at its best.

    I can't afford one,but somehow I bought one. (Ok..three,but whose counting?) That must make me a really rich mechanic. Nope..just a BIG fan of the Atom experience.

    A lot of people tell me Corvettes are just overpriced Camaros..and own neither..go figure.

    By the way, the Atom2 (built in Ashland,Oregon) did come with a Chevrolet engine..
    Hondas are made in Ohio and Atom3s are built in Alton Va..

    Try one before you buy...you owe it to yourself...
    Last edited by MadMaxAtom; April 4, 2015 at 07:52 PM.
    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)

  3. #3
    Electron
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    Buy the Atom. If you don't love it, sell it and buy the Z06. I don't know many Atom owners that have regretted their purchase. There are a lot of guys who have owned every fast car and exotic you can imagine, but to a man they almost always testify about how special and unique the Atom is compared to the other toys.

    It isn't rational or practical, but once you get it, you'll get it.

  4. #4
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    If you're autocrossing only then buy an SRA. For $47K you'll get the same performance of a $90K Atom 3S you just need to trailer it there as it's not road legal. I've only ever autocrossed my Atom twice and was easily the fastest there by more than a second each time; it seemed a bit unfair and I stopped doing it (and that was against some fancy 700HP $100K+ muscle car monsters.)

    FYI: I take my 230HP SRA to tracks all across California and am mostly untouchable (though that's maybe because your average Vette driver sucks) I'm only ever slower to full on race cars that show up (Formula cars, LMP, GT series etc) and even then they need good drivers to beat me (which most pro race teams actually have of course!) The SRA beats Vettes, 911 GT3 and Nissan GTR at most places without a sweat, in the street car category it's weirdly the S2K guys that can really drive that give me the most competition every time outside of the $250K+ crowd.

    tl;dr No need to buy a high HP Atom for autocrossing, even the "cheap one" will dominate. Everything depends on the driver though ultimately.

  5. #5
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    If you are going to do a fair amount of street driving, buy the Vette. If primarily track, buy the Atom. Had a ZR1 and it could not stand up to hard track driving (not autocross).

  6. #6
    jid
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    There are a lot of guys who have owned every fast car and exotic you can imagine, but to a man they almost always testify about how special and unique the Atom is compared to the other toys.
    I'm one of these... and I don't need the other cars anymore. My Atom gets driven more and enjoyed more than any of my other cars. The guy that got me into Atoms has a stable of 20 exotics. He has let me drive them all. Other than the Ford GT (which is a different beast) there really isn't another one I care to own. It minimizes the desire to drive any other vehicle.

    J

  7. #7
    Proton FourFather's Avatar
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    I have had fourteen Corvettes and four Atoms so far. My fifth Atom, a new 2015 Turbo 365HP, is almost ready to ship to me. I also have a Ford GT and an Ultima Can-Am. I sold my last Corvette after driving my first Atom, and have no plans for another Vette. I received my Ford GT, the Ultima, and my first Atom, all at the same time, and I have enjoyed more than twice the miles and smiles in my Atoms, as I have in the Ford GT and the Ultima combined. Both of them feel heavy and relatively unresponsive, compared to the Atom.

    I will wager that once you get to know an Atom, nothing else will completely satisfy you, if you truly enjoy the supreme thrill of a truly responsive car. Especially so if you value acceleration, handling, braking and steering response, above amenities and practicality.

    The highest Gee I ever recorded in my last Vette was 0.99, and my Atoms routinely pull steady and consistent 1.6- 1.7, with a blip over 2 Gee now and then.

    Eddie FourFather Hill
    Eddie FourFather Hill
    Top Fuel Champion on land and water
    www.eddiehillsfuncycles.com since 1966
    Honda, Kawasaki, Polaris, Yamaha

  8. #8
    Neutrino MadMaxAtom's Avatar
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    The openness of the Atom sets it apart from other cars as well. You feel like part of the car,not just an occupant. I only feel this way on a motorcycle and as much as I like bikes,I drive my Atom more often.

    Eddie Four Father Hill: "Nothing else will completely satisfy you"

    Pretty high praise from a man with a house full of Championship winning trophies on land and sea,including 12 Top Fuel championships..the fastest accelerating vehicle known to man (including rockets,I believe..)
    Last edited by MadMaxAtom; April 5, 2015 at 04:06 PM.
    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)

  9. #9
    Lepton
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    How many days per year would you be able to drive an Atom where you live in Nebraska? I used a C5 Z06 as a daily driver, including all winter in snow. I'm not getting many good days in Indiana to drive the Atom.

    Last time I checked, SCCA puts the Atom in the B Modified class where it is not competitive. The club I ran mine in years ago let me run in D/E Modified, but it wasn't technically legal. You might get FTD depending on what cars show up, but a Ford Focus will beat you on PAX. I understand that there are a lot of modified class SCCA cars in Nebraska.

    0-60 times will depend more on the tires and conditions than the cars. TMI ran the Atom 3S in the 1/8 mile in 6.8 at 102mph. The best result I found for a 2015 Z06 is 7.1 at 102mph. Not enough difference to base a purchase decision on. If you want to do 0-60 in under 3 seconds, get something like a GTR or 911 Turbo S that will do it every single time without fail.

  10. #10
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    I actually currently own both the new Z06 (2015 Z06 w/ Z07 package) AND an Ariel Atom 2. They are completely different cars as you have already indicated, if I could have ONLY one "toy" I would have a very hard time choosing.

    The Atom is everything that you think it is, visceral, amazing to look at, an amazing performer and believe it or not fairly comfortable to do 1+ hour touring in if you are so inclined.

    The Z06 is an engineering marvel that I still cant believe Chevy pulled off at this price point. It is scary fast, and amazingly nimble around a road course. My last outing I pulled 1.36g on STOCK rubber, walking just about everything else on track, in addition my 2.5 hour ride home was done getting 30mpg in 4 cylinder ECO mode. The big difference between the cars for me is that I feel like the Atom is an extension of my body, while in the Vette I feel like I'm piloting a high-tech fighter jet. Its not that the Vette isnt engaging or exciting (trust me, its amazing). Its just different.

    The other big difference is consumables for track days!! I just did the math, and care and feeding of the Corvette is going to cost me an amazing amount of money. $2,000 for tires (last only 2 track days), $1,000 for brake pads (2 track days)... you get the idea. Oh, and if I stuff it into the wall at the road course its going to cost me $100K to replace it (track day insurance is $700-800 a DAY).

    I guess what I'm saying is that if you want an autocross car, and dont need something with all the tech toys (the PDR is SOO cool) and comfort of the Vette, get yourself the Atom. There is no way you will EVER regret having an Ariel, but it *IS* possible to regret the Vette. I dont regret mine a single bit, but I can see how someone could.

    Is it possible for you to consider having the best of both worlds, and buying a used Atom2 AND a Z06?

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