Experience the All-New Ariel Atom 4 at Forman Motorworks

  • story by David M. Brown
  • photos by Mason Pacheco
  • posted on 04/2023
  • posted in: Feature Articles

The desert has never been faster, even with speedy roadrunners outwitting wily coyotes at every granite cliff and sandy wash.

You can now order the Ariel Atom 4 at Forman Motorworks, which has been offering superlative performance cars and other services to customers worldwide for 20 years.

“The all-new car is a clean-sheet redesign from the very successful Ariel Atom 3 series cars,” says owner Franz Forman. “Only three parts have carried over: the brake pedal, the clutch pedal and the fuel cap!” he says.


“Reliability is also outstanding as we utilize the all-new Honda powertrains in every Atom,” he explains. The 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine from the 10th generation Civic Type-R powers the rear wheels, achieving 320 horsepower and 310 lb./ft. torque. This engine combines low-speed tractability with race-engine dynamics. In addition, the fabricated stainless exhaust and ram air system are mated to the engine as well as a dedicated electronic control unit tuned by Ariel.

If you equip your Ariel Atom with the optional performance package, the car gains 30 horsepower. But instead of weighing 3,200-pounds, similar to most conventional cars, the Atom weighs about 1,400 pounds; that’s a spectacular power-to-weight ratio of 4 lbs./hp. Forman notes that this would be the equivalent of the new 992 Porsche GT3 with 800 horsepower! As a result, the 6-speed manual shifts you from 0–60 mph in a hypercar-level 2.8 seconds and 0–100 mph in 6.8 seconds.

A race-inspired inboard JRi suspension keeps the Ariel Atom stiff and steady on the track or the highway, with double unequal-length wishbones, pushrod-operated inboard dampers, adjustable outboard rod ends and lightweight fabricated uprights. You adjust for ride height, toe and camber to quickly set the car up for daily driver or racing. “This is single-seater technology made usable and affordable,” Forman says.


Other world-class components are the adjustable front/rear bias brakes, twin master cylinders, composite bodywork, alloy adjustable pedals, four-point harnesses and a competition steering rack. As you walk around the Atom 4, industry-leading names appear, components such as JRi, Eibach, Willans, Brembo, Goodridge, Tilton, ITG and AIM Technologies.

JT Janssen, operations manager at Forman Motorworks, explains that more stability has been engineered into the Ariel Atom 4. “It’s a very planted feeling and more stable at higher speeds. The carbon fiber aero/wings package is also much more effective in generating downforce as well. And, it also doesn’t hurt that it makes it look like a miniature F1 car!”

And that’s an important consideration, the sensation of driving hard, feeling the road. “Especially with the growth of electrics, hybrids and the number of ‘systems’ in new cars being released by the major OEMs such as Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren and Lamborghini, the new batch of sports cars and supercars is getting faster but simultaneously, and, quite frankly, more boring to drive as well,” Forman says.


He asks: “Electric power steering, restrictive stability control systems, lane-keep assist, braking assist, etc. Are we driving our own cars anymore or is a software engineer at Ferrari driving the car? The Ariel Atom is for people who love to drive, who value the correlation between direct driver input and subsequent vehicle response. It’s for drivers who want to feel everything through the steering wheel, the suspension and the chassis.”

Forman adds: “This car is not designed to replace your Porsche; it’s designed to complement it. I’ve spent years driving 6-speed Porsche GT cars, and I absolutely love them, but the Atom provides a level of rawness and feel that makes a GT3 feel like a Cadillac CTS.”

Forman to the Forefront


Forman Motorworks was the first Ariel dealer in the country, starting with Ariel North America in 2009; since then, the business has sold 180-plus new and used Ariel vehicles. Most clients are car collectors, enthusiasts with several specialty cars, adrenaline junkies and track enthusiasts, Forman explains.

“We frequently hear the comment from our older buyers that they wonder if they’re too old for such a car,” Forman says. “But what they don’t realize is how many clients we have in their 70s and 80s who buy a new Atom because they’ve been on sport bikes their entire lives and still want the thrill with less risk. For instance, the wife has finally laid down the law about time to sell the Ducati!”

He adds: “Many of our clients have owned three or more Atoms as they will sell one to experience something else and then come back to the brand because nothing else delivers on the driving experience the same way an Atom does for anywhere near the money.”


Bespoke is almost a necessity now for the specialty-car market. “It’s not enough anymore just to have the newest supercar; it’s all about the ‘spec,’” Forman says.

Forman Motorworks, for sure, knows one-off. Starting in 2015 with the introduction of the Atom 3S, the highest-selling Atom of the previous generation, his staff became creative on unique builds: paint to sample, carbon fiber, bespoke chassis, wheel colors and more.

“The Atom is one of the most special vehicles to customize, and most buyers will end up with a one-of-one,” he says, noting that Forman Motorworks has built many cars in various Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche and Audi colors. “The design phase of the process is really fun to go through and makes the anticipation of receiving your new car all the more special.”


So, the wait is worth it, Forman says. “These days it’s taking more than a year just to order a new 911 or Huracán, so 15–18 months for a custom-built Atom 4 really isn’t long at all.”

Stand-out Service & No Pet Llamas

Remember, too, you can consign or sell any high-end car with Forman Motorworks; this avoids photo and advertising costs, scammers, late-night phone calls, no-shows, pre-purchase inspections and strangers wanting to trade for their pet llama or a no-risk time-share in Tijuana, Forman notes. And, the dealership offers annual services exclusively for Ariel vehicles as well as indoor storage, vehicle concierge services and car shipping.


Among the models for sale or that have recently sold are a 2023 Audi R8 Performance RWD; 2015 Lamborghini Aventador Roadster; 2023 Lexus LC500 Convertible; 2022 Maserati MC20 Coupe; 2018 McLaren 570GT Coupe; 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring; 2021 Ariel Atom 4; 2019 Ariel Atom 3RS; and a 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

East Coast client Chris Willbanks has purchased three cars from Forman and sold him two. “Franz runs an incredible dealership, with exquisite high-end cars, new and used, and doing business with Franz is an incredible and stress-free experience. He is car guy and a friend who just happens to have a dealership,” he says.

“Franz made the whole buying experience simpler than any franchise dealership, and that is with a vehicle that is much more complex to own and register. He exemplifies how the dealership experience should be: friendly, passionate, honest, transparent and communicative. Even now, despite being over 3,000 miles away, any time I look to buy another vehicle, I talk to him before I even think of going anywhere else.”



What mainstream sports car is most similar to an Atom? Well, “None of them,” says Forman.

“The only thing that comes close is the feeling of riding a sport bike. But, with the Atom you don’t have to sacrifice the mid-corner traction issues or wondering if you’re going to hit a patch of gravel mid corner and have the bike skate out from under you.

“I own two sport bikes and absolutely love them but always have that haunting feeling heading into the corners at speed if this is where it all ends!” he explains. “In the Atom you can carry even more speed than on a sport bike, and with the same wind-in-your-hair feeling but with the stability of four contact patches underneath you, not two.”

Order your Ariel Atom 4 at Forman Motorworks starting at $84,000; various fit/finish, carbon fiber and power upgrades are additional.

The showroom is at 1637 W Knudsen Drive, H100, in north Phoenix; Franz and his staff welcome you Monday through Friday during business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although appointments are preferred. For more information, see www.arielna.com/arielatom-4-specs and www.formanmotorworks.com/ariel-atom-4 Questions? Connect with Franz or JT at info@formanmotorworks.com or 623.910.3020.