Ariel has toyed with the idea of a Nomad-style vehicle since the early days of the Atom, but the job of continuing the development of the Atom, coupled with the launch of the highly successful Ace motorcycle, kept intruding.
However, the Nomad project made progress in recent times when taken on by the Ariel founder’s son, Henry Siebert-Saunders, whose interest in off-roading encouraged him to complete the prototype and lead its development on terrain normally reserved for conventional, slow and heavy 4x4s.
“We’ve tested the Nomad on a variety of race circuits and proving grounds, as well as on various private tracks including well known WRC stages, winch challenge courses and closed forest roads,” said Siebert-Saunders.
“The idea was to subject our two-wheel-drive car to tests worthy of a conventional 4x4, because we reckoned its compactness, torque and light weight would compensate for its lack of four-wheel drive. So far we’ve been right and the Nomad has lapped it up, to the extent that the whole thing adds up to a whole new kind of driving fun.”
The close resemblance of the Nomad’s essential structure to that of the Atom’s original bronze-welded chassis is obvious, but the Nomad also has an enveloping rollover structure that conveniently provides A-pillars for an optional windscreen.
The instrument pod, gearlever for the six-speed manual transmission and the pedal box are all recognisable, while the completely different suspension layout ditches the Atom’s inboard set-up to provide the much longer travel and carry the much fatter and taller wheels and tyres needed by a car with the Nomad’s priorities.
The car features a selection of abbreviated polythene body panels, including a nose cone, engine cover, damper covers, mudguards and bonnet. Standard cars keep many of these panels black — as Atoms do — but owners will be able to choose from a wide number of custom variations, including a variety of colours for the tubular chassis frames. Add-ons such as roof lights, nerf bars, luggage racks and special exhausts are certain to be popular.
There are likely to be optional seats, too, although the standard set-up, closely related to an original Atom’s one-piece moulding for two people, is attractive and space-efficient.
As with the Atom, owners will be offered a wide selection of optional dampers, brakes and wheel/tyre combinations, although the prototype’s 235/75 R15 tyres have proved to be well up to the job. Siebert-Saunders confirmed to Autocar at the Autosport International show that there is scope for increased adjustability on future Nomad models.
"Inevitably, we will go the same route we have with the Atom, as the Nomad is a fixed set-up at the moment," he said. "We could make the Nomad more adjustable."
As with the Atom, Ariel says it plans to build up to 100 examples per year of the Nomad.
Read the Ariel Nomad review here.
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