Might the next Ariel Atom open-wheel street-legal race car be built from Titanium?

 Ariel Atom

When you learn of a metal that would rather catch fire than be welded, do you think “perfect metal for my track car?” If you do, you ought to apply to work with British track-day car builder Ariel.

That’s right. Ariel is looking to make a limited edition Atom from Titanium. The special frame would weigh around 40 percent less than the standard tubular steel frame and bring the overall weight down by eight percent.

Titanium, while having the highest strength to-to-weight ratio of any metal, has the tendency to combust in the presence of oxygen during welding. This means, in order to construct the frame, Ariel will have to weld inside an argon-filled chamber.

“We’d like to do a limited edition. It would be a brilliant track car. The alternative would be to offer it as an option on the range,” Simon Saunders of Ariel said, speaking to Autocar.

A normally aspirated 2.4-liter Honda four-cylinder, which is mated to a close ratio six-speed with a limited slip rear-end, powers the infamous open-top Atom. The tiny track car already weighs a miniscule 1,350 pounds. The standard car is already uproariously fun on the track. Drop eight percent and the result could be monumental track fun.

We have to wonder though: is it worth it? It’s like when a guy with a beer belly spends thousands on a lightweight carbon-fiber road bike. He’d save a lot more weight and money if he just cut back on the beers and steak. But we won’t knock the Titanium Atom until we’ve tried it.

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