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Ariel gets down and dirty with Nomad

Published Jan 8, 2015

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Crewkerne, Somerset - Ariel is best known for its tubular-chassis track day special Atom, best described as a cross between a dune-buggy and an Indy car.

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Now the bespoke carmaker has taken the concept a step further with the off-road focused Nomad, adding long-travel outboard suspension, damage-resistant body panels, a washable interior and a healthy dose of attitude to the basic recipe.

It has a 2.4-litre Honda K24 iVTEC four that uses same architecture as the 2.2-litre Type R found in the Atom, but with a longer stroke, Ariel-tuned inlet and exhaust systems and a Hondata ECU mapped for a broader powerband.

That translates to 173kW and a gutsy 300Nm, channelled to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual 'box and a limited-slip differential - and the whole car weighs just 670kg ready to go, so Atom says it will outperform most all-wheel-drive machines in many situations.

On the road (yes, Cyril, the Nomad is street-legal) 0-100 takes about 3.5 seconds, with a top speed in the region of 215km/h.

Unequal-length, double-wishbone suspension all round is modulated by Eibach variable two-piece springs over aluminium-bodied, adjustable monotube Bilstein dampers, giving up to 300mm of ground clearance. Braking is entrusted to a combination of two and four-piston Alcon callipers and Goodridge stainless braided hose.

UNBREAKABLE

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What little bodywork there is, is roto-moulded in colour-impregnated polyethylene - the same process and material that's used for road comes, so it's completely scratchproof and practically unbreakable.

A windscreen and a full weather package are optional extras - the latter making this the first Ariel with a roof. Different tyres, wheels, competition parts, engine tuning and suspension components are available, as well as windscreen, underbody protection, lamps, bumper bars and winches, so no two Nomads will ever be identical.

Each Ariel is built to order by a single technician, and tailored specifically to the customer's requirements like a Savile Row suit. Customers are encourage to visit the factory and discuss their car personally with the technician who's building it, making this arguably the most personal and bespoke vehicle in the world.

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Ariel doesn't even have test drivers; each car is road tested by the technician who built it, and only when he's happy with it will he put his signature plate on it.

And even then, it's upgradeable; owners can return their cars to Crewkerne for upgrades, modifications and new options to be fitted as they become available.

The Nomad will be shown for the first time at the UK International Autosport Show and up to 100 cars a year will be built alongside the Atom at Crewkerne from the second quarter of 2015, with prices starting at about £27 500 (R480 000) from the factory.

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