Originally launched in the 1990s, the Ariel Atom is now an established motoring icon, turning heads both for its looks and the fact it is as exhilarating a car as you could wish to drive.

Two seats sit within the Atom's intricate steel latticework, and in this case the looks don’t deceive: there are no creature comforts to speak of, but performance is stunning and the handling sharp, whichever model you choose. While an optional windscreen makes it possible to drive without a helmet, that’s all the protection you’ll get from the outside world – and in the right conditions it’s better for it.

Deputy road test editor
The Atom makes even the Caterham Seven look practical

With success, Somerset-based Ariel has grown as a company, although total production is still only around 100 cars a year, a fact which maintains exclusivity and keeps residual values at an impressively high level.

Today, the range extends from a 245bhp base model of the car through to a 500bhp version, which comes with a supercar price to match. Without exception, each model offers a uniquely thrilling driving experience that is, at its best, unmatched for thrills and rawness this side of a superbike.