The name ATS will probably ring few bells nowadays, and that has mainly been the case for this tiny Italian car maker since its tumultuous beginnings in the wake of the “Palace Revolution” at Ferrari in 1961. ATS was founded in direct opposition to Ferrari, and the spoken goal was to beat Ferrari at Formula 1, no less. Lack of money and time led the ATS team to an ill-fated race statistic and short-lived F1 life, reaching the finish line only once, in the 1963 season. They also developed the 2500 GTS road car, one of the very first mid-engined sports cars on the market, but only 12 were produced.
Fast forward to a few years ago, the name was revived and plans for new cars were set into action. A prototype called the 2500 GT showed a modern take on the classic 2500 GTS, and the mock-up for this car is currently on display at the factory in Borgomanero. We were shown renders of a further developed concept, due to see the day of light later this year. Not much can be shared, but it will surely honour its heritage by offering stunning design over first class engineering.
ATS’s owner, Daniele Maritan, very kindly offered me to try out the smaller Stile50, a compact two-seater roadster with long, sweeping lines, reminiscent of several top players of the 1960’s sports car scene. The engine of the prototype I tried out is from OPC, and with 210-turbocharged horsepower, it really offers a punch when asked for one. Bearing in mind that the Stile50 has no doors and that this was a prototype and that I’m really too tall for such a car, I thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the small towns and along the country roads around Borgomanero. Letting the rear loosen up a bit in second gear really pulled my mouth corners apart!
Road holding is good, and although the town bumps and intersections upset the Stile50, it really comes into its own on the straights and curves of the wonderful country roads. The rumble of the sports exhaust turns into the whine of the turbocharger as the loud pedal is kept firmly planted, offering plenty of aural excitement to match the appearance and driving experience.
The production version of the Stile50 has several improvements over the prototype, including roll bars and detachable soft-top, and you can even have more power if you opt for the highly limited Spoon version, whose naturally aspirated engine produces 280 hp, enough to make sure its occupants keep smiling. The standard version has a 1.6-liter turbocharged GM engine, offering 210 hp. Zero-to-100 km/h is dealt with in 3.6 and 4.5 seconds, respectively. For the interior, ATS offers several options, and one of the most intriguing options is the cork(!)-based upholstery seen in the photo below.
We will follow the development of ATS closely and hope to bring you the first news of the new GT later this year. Be prepared to want one!
This article was first published on lovecars.com.