Atom is da Bomb! or How to Distort Your Face in Under Three Seconds

I have to tell you all that Ginger Ale is just about my favorite drink… period. It brings back fond memories of days long past. I’ll usually partake in a plastic Dixie cup of Canada Dry’s version of the beverage on business flights, but on a recent trip to Oregon, I was treated to a Verner’s. Ain’t that something? I mean I thought that brand went away when I was a kid, at least that’s the way it is in California. Then another blast from the past… I got on a plane with propellers. Yes, folks, the futuristic world of the 21st Century is here… and without the flying cars, robot butlers, an Astro-Base on the Moon or the rocket-pack I was promised as a boy. Airplanes still have propellers.

Anyways, as I said earlier I was on my way to Oregon. Since we’re now in the powertrain business I’m visiting a customer called Brammo. If you’re not familiar with the company then I invite you to go to their website and check out their skeletal speedster called the Ariel Atom. Jay Leno even chats about it on his website here with a slight gleam in his eye.

This little gem’s design wasn’t really born in the US, but the Brammo crew has made it their own and is now just starting to pop them out of their bay doors. The car is light, agile and feels as if it is infused with alien go-fast technology that was salvaged from a UFO at Area 51. What do I mean by that? You know what fast is, right? I mean just imagine what your version of speed is for a moment? Now, think of being hurdled through the air with your facial features blurred beyond recognition as you scream while being propelled from zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds. Yep, now that’s fast. The Atom is plenty powerful, so don’t be mislead by its pint-size. Check out the video of us driving around the Brammo parking lot — not as fast and furious as it would have been out on a track, but fun and impressive nonetheless.

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The surprise here is that this car doesn’t have a warp drive from a crashed UFO, but rather from a Chevy Cobalt SS. The heart of this guided missile is GM’s stout 2.0-liter supercharged, all-aluminum Ecotec engine. In fact, the transmission, driveshafts, and other components come from Chevy’s pocket rocket. At 205 horsepower the stock stuff is impressive, but with a GM stage two or three kit and a GM/Banks ECU calibrated with “special herbs and spices” for that extra punch the car’s tires scar the blacktop with a trail of vulcanized fury. All of these powertrain parts are being supplied through Banks.

Ok, here’s a secret: if that kind of power wasn’t enough we at Banks are developing the Ecotec 2.4-liter engine in a few different ways… each one of them for diabolical output. The master plan is to build-up the engines with either a turbo or supercharger and all the right components inside so that you can use the extra power over and over again in whatever you decide to put it in. Sandrails, hot rods… and even boats. And who knows… maybe the parts might even be compatible with a few of GM’s vehicles?

Great things come in small packages, and both the Atom and the Ecotec are powerful examples of the rule. Both the car and the engine are going to change the way folks think about performance. As the price of gas rises to ridiculous levels it becomes clear that heavy cars and dinosaur-thirsty V8s are a thing of the past. Looks like I actually found something futuristic on this trip after all. Now if I can only get my rocket pack and personal robot.

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