When it comes to Italian supercar’s, you think of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Maserati and so on, however one name you might not be familiar with is ATS-Automobili. So who are they, were are they from? We spoke to Presidente di ATS Automobili Italia, Daniele Maritan, who was more than happy to tell us more…
‘The operation takes surgical precision: once a brand from 1962 is found, ATS, with well-defined traces of its DNA (that delivers “spirit of adventure, true passion, will for challenge, love for beautiful cars, attention to detail and innovation”) the mission is to make it relive. The task is not simple but, in hindsight, not impossible if those involved are moved by the same enthusiasm and the same entrepreneurship DNA shown fifty years ago. Today’s endeavor is born in Torino, where the history of automobile is rooted, as well as the history of Italian style applied to the four wheels. As a matter of fact Daniele Maritan’s and Emanuele Bomboi’s mission is also directed at promoting the all-Italian heritage, to revitalize an historic brand, and to reintroduce the Italian way of designing automobiles, with soft and enticing design cues that brought the “Italian school” to the top of the world.’
Words such as challenge, adventure, beauty, passion represent the values that were shared among all the founders of ATS in 1962, and that today we find once again in those people that are bringing back this historic brand. There is a common thread in all of this, a common DNA that makes today’s protagonists the legitimate successors of those pioneers. But it’s not just that, these same values tells us clearly that the “new” ATS is the legitimate heir to the GT that, in 1963, was considered as the best technical expression and display of style for a Gran Turismo.
A brief history
At the end of 1961, despite Ferrari having won the Formula 1 World Championship a short while before, storm clouds had gathered over the Maranello factory and eight engineers and executives found themselves suddenly without a job. The eight fired directors were Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, the two technical directors, Romolo Tavoni, the sporting director, commercial director Girolamo Gardini, director of manufacturing Federico Giberti, Ermanno Della Casa the administration director, Fausto Giberti, director of the foundry, and Enzo Selmi, staff director. The statement with which Ferrari announced this mass termination made reference to an “over evaluation of relevance to marginal facts that have nothing to do with the normal operation of a company.” We will not retrace at this point all the facts and motives that brought to that mass firing. The point is that, in just a few days, some of the most brilliant minds in the Italian automotive engineering scene where left wandering the streets.
The obvious path back to success was through motor racing and the idea of creating and manufacturing a new Gran Turismo car – to race of course, but also to see driving on the streets – soon took shape. The dream soon became reality thanks to three prominent entrepreneurs that covered the necessary investments: Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, a fond racing enthusiast and already head of the Scuderia Serenissima, Jaime Ortiz Patino, born 1924 in Geneva but heir to a powerful Bolivian family, and Giorgio Billi from Tuscany, a brilliant industrialist king of nylon stockings’production.
The summer of 1962 saw a fast paced work that brought to life the Formula 1 ATS (which stands for Automobili Turismo e Sport) and a new gran turismo, revolutionary and beautiful, the first ever with a mid-mounted engine. But as soon as November of that same year, problems and disagreement among the partners emerged: Volpi di Misurata left ATS (and went back to Serenissima), followed a short time later by Patino. Billi was left alone but, pushed by passion and incredible courage, decided to continue to move forward with the project. ATS was indeed on the grid at the beginning of the Formula1 World Championship with drivers Giancarlo Baghetti and Phil Hill (both of them former Ferrari drivers) but the season was a disappointment. The car demonstrated great potential thanks to good technical solutions but lack of funds prevented reliability and performance. Early in 1963 the team was forced to abandon Formula 1.
But in the meanwhile, at the Geneva Motor Show the ATS 2500 GT made its debut: product of the genius intuitions of Giotto Bizzarrini, the new ATS was revolutionary and beautiful, as press coverage from around the world was enthusiastic. It was the first ever GT with a mid-mounted engine, thus having an innovative weight distribution and suddenly rendering all the other GT cars of the time out of date. The car was beautifully sketched by another genius of its time, Franco Scaglione, fresh from a long partnership at Carrozzeria Bertone, while an important contribution also came from Alemanno, entrusted with the construction of the extremely curvaceous and aerodynamic body. The final touches created an air of great luxury, well-finished in every detail with many features – such as the wide boot – the unmistakable sign of talent and creativity. The engine was an eight cylinder motor of almost 2,500cc, the big brother of the one used in Formula 1, boasting 220 horsepower and able to push the 2500 GT over the 150mph mark. A few months later at Salone di Torino, an even more extreme version was unveiled, known as the 2500 GTS, with a 260 horsepower engine, the weight reduced to 750kg and a top speed of almost 165mph! Targeted at a rich and sophisticated clientele (priced at 5 million lire! – an astonishing price for the time) orders for the 2500 GT were received from wealthy, passionate individuals both in Europe and overseas but unfortunately Formula 1, with all its troubles, played a part in the events that led to the end of the project. In the end only 12 examples were manufactured, but a thoroughbred like that found a way to be remembered even in the racing world.
In fact, after the Formula 1 project was abandoned ATS didn’t close its doors for good. It took a while for Carlo Chiti’s and Giorgio Billi’s drive to compete to resurface, prompting them to race the GT 2500. The moment of truth came in May 1964, at the Targa Florio, challenging in every way and very demanding for both drivers and mechanics. Two cars were entered in the race; the first one for the duo of Zeccoli and Gardi and the other for Baghetti and Frescobaldi. The two ATSs thrilled the crowds; they were very fast and manoeuvrable, easily leading their class standings when they were both forced to retire from the race. On both cars a particular piece of the starting mechanism failed, a component added just days in advance and never properly tested.
That was really the end even if, some years later, a lightning fast Sport 1,000 brought back the ATS brand to the track. But the story of the Sport 1,000 was a tale of other men, with other goals, and had little to do with the incredible adventure that began in 1962. It was in fact the 1964 running of the Targa Florio that put an end at ATS’ fantastic but unlucky story, written by a handful of men who were lovers of speed, sport, engineering and beautiful cars.
Today’s ATS is not a “nostalgia” operation: at the foundation is a real company, a true “small” manufacturer, headquartered in two locations in close proximity of Torino: a production unit and a Centro Stile. The entrepreneurial endeavor is pushed by Daniele Maritan’s and Emanuele Bomboi’s passion. The challenge for today’s ATS is to introduce innovation onto a neo-classical body, to reinvent that style and beauty that never became old in a 2.0 key. And to take advantage of the most modern technologies to make sure the new ATS GT is a modern masterpiece. The new ATS GT is a beauty inside and outside, with a mid-mounted V8 biturbo capable of exceptional performances, pushing the best chassis configuration offered by today’s automotive technology. But it’s not just about cold technology. It is about the attention to detail, the mastery of craftsmanship, original materials and brilliant innovations.
It remains to be said that looking forward ATS’ project go beyond this beautiful GT. Other ideas are already on the table, ideas that will be developed in the short and midterm, ideas that will never betray the DNA: challenge, adventure, beauty, passion.
At the helm
As already hinted at the helm of ATS are Daniele Maritan and Emanuele Bomboi. The relationship between the two began at the Bologna Motor Show in 2014. Viotti, an important coach-builder from Turin, unveiled his reinvention of the Renault Alpine, or more accurately the Willys Berlinetta 380, as it was known in South America during the nineteen sixties and seventies. The prototype was dazzlingly beautiful and Daniele Maritan, an entrepreneur from Piedmont, former amateur driver and fondly attracted to beautiful cars, literally fell in love with Viotti’s car. He rushed to meet the designer. The strange thing is that Maritan could never have imagined that the car’s designer would be Emanuele Bomboi, a Roman who studied in Turin and whom he had already met several times thanks to both gentlemen’s passion for cars.
Daniele Maritan was born in Novara in 1981. He graduated from Liceo Classico Borgomanero and then attended Law School at Universita’ Cattolica di Milano for three years. After a lengthy and important career as amateur driver, racing go-karts and Formula Renault, in 2005 he began an important and thriving business importing and distributing fast sport cars … but the idea, not very well disguised, was always to realise something on his own. With strong entrepreneurial acumen his family decided to support him and in a short time a small prototype and a very “retro’” Barchetta were born.
Emanuele Bomboi was born in Rome in 1975. He graduated in Transportation Design at IED Turin where he is now Coordinator for the Masters in Transportation. He worked for ten years at Centro Stile Fiat, where he assimilated and sharpened the sophisticated processes of vehicle design and manufacture, shadowing managers such as Flavio Manzoni, Frank Stephenson, Roberto Giotto, Lorenzo Ramacciotti. After his time at Fiat (marked by projects such as the Bravo and Abarth S 2000) at just 33 years of age he moved to Bertone as Deputy Director of the Centro Stile. He then worked at Maggiora and at Viotti, where he designed the beautiful Willys AW380, creating as Design Director a new business focused on prestigious vehicles, one-off or small production, aimed at wealthy clients or private collectors.
The challenge of reviving the ATS brand is thus the logical arrival point of a series of prestigious stages in both men’s professional life.
Beautiful, Elegant, Smooth: Italian The new ATS GT is not just attractive, amazing, extraordinary, unbelievable, sensual and out of this world … the new ATS GT is much more than all of this: it’s simply beautiful! Let’s explore this refined but strong hearted Italian beauty, ready to capture hearts and heads.
The design: tempting and enticing Just as in the past when designers took time to develop well proportioned, simple yet sensuous shapes to create beautiful Italian cars, ATS chose to maintain those romantic, creative processes that forestall the highest automotive standards. Emanuele Bomboi wanted the entire car to be built first and foremost as a piece of sculpture, with every surface carved and shaped to perfection. Even the interior – despite the limited space of a supercar – was fashioned to guarantee the best ergonomics and driver comfort.
The side silhouette of this new Gran Turismo is charged with energy, with clean lines framing arched surfaces. The outlines above the wheel are evocative while a clean flowing line divides the car’s upper and lower halves. As with the original car’s design, the windows provide a focus for the flanks of the car. Uniquely, the door handles are practically … non existent. In fact the vehicle is equipped with touchless sensors hidden underneath the small fin bearing the ATS logo. The front spoiler follows the form of the classical ATS 2500 GTS of the sixties, crossing the whole width of the car with the same blue Dragon of Bologna logo (today crafted using state of the art OLED technology) at its centre as the 1963 car unveiled at the Paris motor show. Similarly distinctive are the two stripes running along the bonnet and the two lateral air intakes with fullLED lighting above them. The rear of the car is windowless like a true race car, blending in gracefully with aerodynamically efficient cut-off tail, while the integrated rear spoiler is ‘active’; it rises at high speeds to create downforce and can generate effective drag to help the car brake in the shortest distance. The distinctive wedge lines emphasize the tail width while the design at the rear is a testament to the Italian GT car’s historic heritage, with broad shapes and flowing lines that frame modern design cues; all the elements have an aerodynamic role to play and fit perfectly the ‘form follows function’ philosophy. The rear diffuser, defying conventional design habits, is a continuation of the bodywork forming a part of the whole and supporting the v-shape that ties the LED lights with the markers above the wheel arch.
The lights on the ATS GT deserve special mention. With the running lights on the contours of the headlights and the aluminium details emphasise the technological imprint of the car, while the unique tubular ring of the tail lights give the impression of a suspended body, almost detached from the rest of the vehicle. The holes in the rear light’s rings also perform a vital function, extracting hot air from the engine compartment when the car is in motion.
The wheels (20” front, 21” rear) are minor masterpieces; forged aluminium, semi-lenticular and highly polished, they mirror the contours of the flanks of the car while being manufactured within exacting structural specifications and strict safety protocols. The new GT is fitted with 255/30R20 tyres at the front and 355/25R21 at the rear. And because the ATS GT is being manufactured to order in very limited numbers, clients will be able to customise the car’s colours, material and finishing touches according to their personal needs and desires.
The Cockpit: Light Through Aesthetics The Centro Stile ATS has studied and developed the best ergonomics for the driver, in order to offer a refined driving experience during urban, touring or track driving. Right from the start the design of the interior was aimed at positioning the controls in the most perfect set up. The main challenge was to achieve this objective by creating a balanced environment, with the functional minimalism of racing cars. All of this had to be done without compromising the ability to control many of the sophisticated technological functions built in to this luxury environment where safety remains a priority thanks to four air bags.
The key features of the car’s technological aspects are the ultra-thin digital Cluster TFT screen, surrounded by an aluminium frame, and the central touchscreen for managing all the other functions by allowing the driver to actively engage with the vehicle. The system known as “Heart” is the direct interface between driver and his car. At the centre of the dashboard below the display, the Centro Stile ATS has decided to install this unique device that hosts all the controls to transform a quiet relaxing car into a true supercar, unleashing its extreme power to tackle racing circuits: selector to manage the intelligent suspensions: three setups available Viaggio, Sport, Corsa (Tour, Sport, Race) lever for the activation of the rear wing controller for app selection and infotainment management lever for the activation of manual transmission with steering wheel paddles or sequential transmission engine map selector: Viaggio, Sport, Corsa (Tour, Sport, Race)
ATS’ Research and Development team has also provided the vehicle with fundamental elements, some of which are brand new and innovative, in order to simplify the driving experience and to create a comfortable and “engaging” ride:
* the patented multifunctional control can manage the automatic transmission, the anti-skid function and the Launch Control
* the Paddle Shift behind the wheel allows to shift gear in four different ways
* the sophisticated sequential transmission is visible, a minor masterpiece and a real tribute to the beauty of precision engineering
* the multiple wireless charging system with Qi technology allows the driver or passenger to charge both tablet and smartphone at the same time
* the “Prima Orchestra” professional hi-fi system – used for the first time in a car – offers a ‘Stage Layout’ and a cross managed sound through modern ultra-thin TRIO speakers
The Three Driving Modes The three modes, Viaggio, Sport and Corsa or Tour, Sport and Race, significantly change the dynamic behavior of the car, transforming its nature and the feel the driver receives. Each mode acts on the suspension’s set-up, on the gearshift speed and on the engine’s power output, to lift the car to its maximum performance levels.
“Viaggio” is distinguished by a relaxing light blue ambient colour on the controls in the cockpit. While in this configuration, the GT has a smooth and gentle behavior, closer to a normal Gran Turismo than a supercar, allowing the owner to undertake long journeys but also relax in city traffic in “Sport” mode the cockpit colours switch to yellow, in harmony with the more focused character of the vehicle. G-Force information and the temperature/pressure of the tyres appear at the center of the instrument panel, allowing the driver feedback on the car’s performance while keeping his eyes on the road if we choose the “Corsa” configuration the interior becomes red … what did you expect? Here you enter in a new dimension and a brand new relationship with the vehicle: the main screen now shows Formula 1 style instruments and the technical information takes centre stage, clear and immediate, in order to support the driver while on a racing circuit. The engine sound also changes to become more deep and powerful
Engine and Performance: a Powerful V8 The bi-turbo engine of this supercar unleashes 478 KW / 650 bhp at 7,250 rpm or 515 KW / 700 bhp with an optional upgrade. Maximum torque is 678 Nm which can become 750 Nm at 7,250 rpm when choosing the optional upgrade. Like a racing engine the drivetrain is equipped with dry-sump lubrication, while the trade mark roar of a V8 engine is even louder thanks to a special and beautiful exhaust system! The ATS GT is the first ever car to be equipped with a patented silencer system. The car’s performances allow the ATS GT to be one of the best supercars on the market: the V8 pushes the car from 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds allowing for a maximum speed of more than 206mph.
Stability and Dynamism The 7 speed transmission is state of the art and allows for slick gear shifts while management of the clutch is integrated in the system that allows the driver to choose between Viaggio, Sport and Corsa modes. A reliable mechanical differential is standard and, despite the significant power of the engine, the Launch Control system guarantees lightning starts without wheel spin. Even the chassis with its diagonal double wishbones reveals the supercar DNA of the car. Further, the new ATS is equipped with an ESP system, for the electronic correction of stability, and electronically adjusted shock absorbers. The powerful braking is ensured by generously sized carbo-ceramic discs, assisted by the latest generation ABS system.
The Composite Structure of the Chassis As a true supercar the ATS GT uses composite materials and special alloys. In fact, carbon fibre is extensively used in the bodywork, in the interiors and chassis, leading to a combination of light weight and great strength. For its part the attention to detail and quality of construction are top notch and allow for an optimal ratio between weight, size and strength. The end result yields great figures such as the dry weight of just 1,300 kg.
So how special is this car, it looks good, the tech is fantastic, it really is bedroom wall material – a car you just want to keep looking at time after time. The ATS will also be a limited production car, set to make only 12 for the launch edition, just as they did in 1963, priced at around £980M it will no doubt find a home with some pretty exclusive owners.
…now we just need to drive it…all in the name of research of course!…
2 seater Coupé – 2 doors
Dimensions Length 4,700mm
Maximum height 1,210mm
Dry weight 1,300kg
Boot capacity 2.30m3
Engine and transmission
Bi-turbo V8 engine with dry-sump lubrication
Displacement 3,799 cc.
Power 478 KW / 650 bhp at 7,250 rpm – Optional Upgrade 515 KW /700 bhp
Maximum torque 678 Nm – Optional Upgrade 750 Nm
Euro 6 certification
Rear wheel drive
7 speed automatic ATS transmission
Maximum speed: more than 206mph
0 to 60mph: 3.0 seconds with launch control
0 to 120mph: 9.9 seconds
CO2 emissions 275 g/km
City 18 lt./100 km (15.6mpg)
Highway 9 lt./100 km (31.4mpg)
Combined 12 lt./100 km (23.5mpg)
Forward and rear double wishbone suspension
Shock absorbers with adjusting rings
Active electronic setup
ESP stability control
Brakes with carbo-ceramics discs
20” front wheels; 21” rear wheels
Front tyres 255/30R20 ; rear tyres 355/25R21
Tour-Sport-Race driving modes
Multi material chassis (aluminium alloy and carbon fibre) capable of outstanding strength and torsion
Active instrument panel
Central touchscreens that interact with the main instrument panel
Prima Orchestra Professional Sound System
Tyre temperature and pressure information