Wednesday, 16 February 2011

ATS 2500GT

Many desirable marques and models have followed, but the ATS 2500GT has the privilege of being Italy's first mid-engined supercar.
Founded in 1962 by two ex-Ferrari engineers, Carlo Chiti and the illustrious Giotto Bizzarrini, Automobili Turismo e Sport began work on a road car and an F1 racer, designing them from scratch to run a common engine. Arguments over whether to run a V8 or V12 saw Bizzarrini leave the project (taking the money with him, as well as his V12 design which went on to symbolise everything that we love about Lamborghini), while Chiti developed a V8, in 1.5-litre guise for F1 and 2.5 for the road.

The company's F1 career was short-lived - a single season was enough to see Chiti abandoning the endeavour - but a handful of competition 2500GTSs were worked on for the Targa Florio and similar events... although just one road-legal 2500GT is believed to have been built. It's the pleasantly weathered example you see in these photos.

ATS lasted from 1962 to 1965. Bizzarrini's career went from strength to strength with Alfa Romeo, ISO and, latterly, Bizzarrini S.p.A., while Chiti went on to found Autodelta, later to become Alfa Romeo's in-house tuning arm. Their work with ATS is now little more than a footnote in Italian automotive history, but it inspired a generation of performance car builders to experiment with a new layout that rapidly became the norm. And we, as car enthusiasts, cannot thank them enough.

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