Classic Car Capital

Atalanta Motors to be Revived after 75 Years

Atalanta Sports Tourer pictureBritish enthusiast Martyn Corfield aims to revive the pre-war British car marque Atalanta Motors by producing a new traditionally coach-built Atalanta.

With more than just a gentle nod to Atalanta’s heritage, it is the objective of this venture to bring this 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.

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 1.5-litre 78 bhp and 2-litre 98 bhp engines that had been trialled previously in some Fraser Nash cars. A supercharged (Centric and 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 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.

Corfield 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,” continued Corfield.

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[Source: Atalanta Motors]

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  1. One big thing I’ve never understood about the Atalanta story: The Lincoln Zephyr V-12. This thing, with its thumble-sized pistons, had no great reputation in the US,, neither for reliability nor for power output. I don’t know its weight, but it must have been a lot heavier than, say, a Ford V-8, which had nearly as much power with far less complexity (Zephyr had 110 hp from 267 cu inches, Ford 85 or 94 from 221 cu inches). The Zephyr V-12 was a poor basis for a sports car.

  2. In around 1962 I owned a two seater Atalanta sports car registration number HMX 956.

    My understanding was that this was the ex Le Mans Atalanta, and that it was initially Gough engined?

    By the time I acquired the car, it had lost its original engine, and was fitted instead with (if my memory serves me correctly) an Austin Healey 100 engine.

    I well remember this car for its handsome looks, outstanding road holding, a dashboard full of impressive gauges, and switches, and a Cotal gearbox which gave me four forward and reverse gears!

    In fact, I met Albert Gough in the late 50s/ early 60s (he lived in Kingston) when I was researching the Gough engine fitted to my ex Geoffrey St. John “Chain Gang” Frazer Nash.

    Mr. Gough told me that as he had not been fully paid by Frazer Nash, he had not completed the oiling system design, which I suppose helped to explain why Geoffrey and others experienced engine problems — certainly the few supercharged and unsupercharged engines which survive to this day feature “after market” external oil plumbing!

    Also at around this time I was befriended by Dick Shattock who competed in a Jaguar 3.4 engined RGS Atalanta.

    My impression was that Mr. Shattock either purchased a few Atalanta chassis from the defunct company (or had simply constructed one or more sports race cars to the Atalanta design)?

    In tearing around Brighton/ Hove I managed to break one of the rear magnesium suspension castings, which we rather crudely repaired with steel plating …… perhaps HMX 956 retains this war wound to this day?

  3. I started collecting vehicles [tractors cars ] from 1to 12 cyl.IE field marshal ,jowet ,trojan bedford.when I got to 10 Iheard there were 2 ATALANTAS in a farm sale in Aldermaston .I was told they were V 10 engines .sure enough they were there ,1 in a fally shed ,green softop a runner,1outside not so good but all there.They were both sold to the same man.I think it was 145 or155 pounds AS I worked at a farm over 100 was to much for me ,but I have often wondered what ever happend to the 2 ATALANTAS .I have tried to tell this to car bods but all I get is Austin Atlantic .NO ….So it was very nice to see it did and dose live on. Mike 07752042091 14/2/2012

  4. I purchased HMX 956 from Dan Marguiles.and quickly replaced the Austin/Cotal lashup with a 2.6 Aston/Lagonda engine and gearbox. . I soon discovered that one rear brake drum electron] and liner [steel were cracked and after much searching replaced. I believe the engine and gearbox are still fitted but a new Swiss owner had found an original engine and Cotal box ! Somewhere on the web pictures show the main instruments now having black rims – awfulI. I applied new coats of BRG with dark cherry wheels and had bonnet side panels made in aircraft quality alloy to accomodate various protrusions of the Aston engine.. Hate to think of its present value !