British sports car company Atalanta Motors to return after 75 years

Staffordshire based motoring enthusiast Martyn Corfield has embarked upon his most ambitious project yet; the revival of arguably ‘the most innovative and stylish pre-war British car manufacturer – Atalanta Motors’.

Atalanta Motors developed and produced one of the most technically advanced sports car designs of its’ era.  Regularly reported as a thoroughbred amongst their more conservative sports car contemporaries, Atalanta’s advanced design, exceptional performance and riding comfort quickly established the company’s reputation for producing ‘exciting, bespoke sporting cars of quality and style’.

With more than just a gentle nod to Atalanta’s heritage, it is the objective of this venture to bring this most innovative pre-war sports car concept up-to-date, by acknowledging 72 years of automotive evolution, yet remaining true in spirit and sympathetic to the style and function of the original Atalanta sports car designs.

A traditionally coach-built pre-production prototype is currently being developed that remains true to original Atalanta design principles of ‘Innovation, Style and Performance’ and it is scheduled to be unveiled Spring 2012, 75 years after the first Atalanta car was announced. (The Autocar March 5th 1937 and The Motor, March 9th 1937)

Atalanta Motors History

Established in December 1936 and based in Staines Middlesex, Atalanta Motors Ltd., designed and produced exciting and innovative sports cars for just over two years before the unfortunate outbreak of war halted development and production after only 21 cars were made.

Atalanta Motors announced their first car in spring 1937 and were the only pre-war British car manufacturer that instigated and implemented innovative design features that included;

  • Fully independent coil spring suspension
  • Adjustable damping front and rear
  • Full hydraulic brakes
  • Electrically operated, magnetic epicyclic gearbox (an early semi-automatic!)
  • Multi valve, twin-spark cylinder head
  • Selective engagement of supercharger
  • Extensive use of lightweight materials such as electron, duralumin and hiduminium for many of its castings.

Initially the Atalanta was offered with Albert Gough’s underdeveloped 1½-litre 78 bhp and 2-litre 98 bhp engines that had been trialled previously in some Fraser Nash cars. A supercharged (Centric & Arnott) option was also available and later in 1938 a more reliable 4.3 litre V-12 Lincoln Zephyr engine producing 112 bhp was introduced.

Atalanta cars were available in a variety of configurations, each tailored to the bespoke needs of each customer.

Variants included:

  • Open two seat sports car
  • Two seat sports tourer (as illustrated)
  • Two door fixed head coupe and saloon
  • Two door drop head coupe

These advanced and expensive sporting cars were regularly tested by both their owners and the works in various competitive events with some success in the late 1930’s.

All Atalanta models benefited from a lightweight construction that contributed to delivering excellent performance and coupled with revolutionary road holding (that was reviewed in a 1939 road test as “beyond criticism; rough, almost colonial sections can be treated like main roads. The Atalanta has the tenacious quality of a racing car when cornering, and it is nearly impossible to cause the tyres squeal”) the cars gave great traction and high levels of grip.  Virtues that undoubtedly contributed to the works success winning the team prize in the 1939 Welsh Rally.

Atalanta team on their way to victory Welsh Rally 1937

Atalanta Motors Today

Currently based in Staffordshire and not far away from where the original Atalanta prototype was produced (Bean Industries in Tipton); significant effort has already gone in to producing a new traditionally coach-built Atalanta prototype that retains the charm and good looks of an original, but also satisfies the demands of more modern motoring.

Using the original Atalanta works Le Mans entry from 1938 as reference has allowed a new prototype to be developed employing the latest CAD technology.  This new car not only remains true to the function and style of the original Atalanta design, but also takes advantage of modern materials and technology to aid what was already a very advanced pre – war design to comply with modern vehicle standards.

This pre-production prototype is scheduled to be unveiled Spring 2012, 75 years after the first Atalanta car was announced.

Martyn Corfield – CEO Atalanta Motors

No stranger to challenging projects, it was Corfield who was the instigator in recreating the 1954 Austin Healey endurance record attempt.  Not content with simply overseeing a car restoration with a forensic level of attention to detail, Corfield led the project to deliver 17 International and National speed distance records including the current ‘fastest 100 miles’ UK record for any type of car, irrespective of age or class.  This was all achieved under self-imposed disciplines that the record attempt must only use technology that was available in the 1950’s.

It is this same energy, focus and attention to detail coupled with his entrepreneurial ambition and drawing upon his wider project management and manufacturing expertise that Corfield brings to the revived Atalanta Motors.

Since first acquiring the Works Le Mans car in 2009, Corfield has become near obsessive about the marque, acquiring considerable knowledge and several cars along the way has led to him to become even more passionate about successfully reviving the brand.

Martyn commented:

“Atalanta is one of the greatest untold British Motoring heritage stories.  The cars and the team that delivered the original concept were so ahead of their time.  What might have been had the war not interrupted development?”

“As custodian of the Atalanta marque it is my objective to sensitively bring the original Atalanta design up to date, delivering modern motoring needs of safety, reliability and performance but still remaining true in spirit to the Atalanta sports car ideals and deliver the quality of product that this marque deserves”

More information is available at the Atalanta website.

Author: News Editor

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