The original Atalanta Sports-TourerEnlarge Photo
Don’t feel too bad if you’ve never heard of sports car manufacturer Atalanta Motors. The boutique builder, originally located in Staines Middlesex, England, lasted from 1937 until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
In its two-year run, Atalanta managed to produce some truly cutting-edge cars, equipped with such modern advances as fully independent coil spring suspensions, adjustable dampers, hydraulic brakes, a semi-automatic gearbox and a twin-spark cylinder head.
A 1939 review of the Atalanta proclaimed the car was “beyond criticism,” and that “the Atalanta has the tenacious quality of a racing car when cornering.” It was good enough for the factory to take home the team prize in the 1939 Welsh Rally, which would prove to be the brand’s most significant racing achievement before the war halted production.
Fast forward to 2011, and new Atalanta Motors CEO Martyn Corfield has big plans for a brand revival. In his words, “Atalanta is one of the greatest untold British motoring heritage stories. What might have been had the war not interrupted development?”
That’s exactly the question that Corfield hopes to answer, by taking a timeless British roadster design and updating it to modern standards of safety, performance and reliability. Using Atalanta’s 1938 Le Mans entry as a starting point, the firm is working on a prototype it plans to reveal next spring, 75 years after the first Atalanta was developed.
Atalanta Motors isn’t the only revival of a classic British marque, and it isn’t the only boutique automaker start-up in Britain. Lagonda, the once-iconic brand now owned by Aston Martin, reportedly has several cars under development, and new start-up Eterniti Motors is planning a line of luxury vehicles in the coming years. Even TVR may be close to a relaunch, although it's not yet clear if the company will remain UK-based.
After years of bad news, it looks like the British automotive industry may be headed for a resurgence, led by bespoke car makers intent on doing things their own way.