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Any time you have to hand off the keys to a valued car, it can be a little nerve racking – and with some justification. Just check out this video, which serves as a cautionary tale of sorts. According to its YouTube description, the user, named ShakenBakeRacin, lent his Ariel Atom to his brother and recorded video of him driving the lightweight racer on the north course at VIR – Virginia International Raceway. What was probably not expected was what ensues in the video.

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Ariel Motor Co. has announced a new version of its stripped-down Atom track star, the Atom 3.5. Following up on the existing Atom 3 model, both the numeration and the spec sheet call this out as an upgrade, rather than a totally new model from the British builder.

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The Ariel Atom is about the purest street-legal sports car you can buy. Known for its radical tube frame, minimalist bodywork and insane power-to-weight ratio, it is one of the quickest cars on pavement. Owners have also found them to be a natural on a racing circuit.

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It has no roof, no windshield and no doors. It doesn't matter. The Ariel Atom is the absolute perfect way to experience the simple pleasure of a day at the race track on four wheels.

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We called the gloriously minimalist Ariel Atom "awesomeness that defies all classification." And that's just how we feel about the outside; Auto Shepherd stopped by Arizona distributor Sector 111 (which, incidentally, will also handle the outrageous BAC Mono) to pore over every detail under the Atom's skin, what little of it there is.

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Flip through the pages of CAR, EVO or Top Gear, and it's obvious the British motoring press has an unhealthy obsession with getting sideways. Not that we can blame them. We enjoy a healthy dab of oppo as much as the next guy, but when the Pistonheads hive-mind starts crying foul about opposite lock shenanigans, you know it's getting out of hand.

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Calling the Ariel Atom a "car" is a bit of a stretch. After all, it comes with no roof, no doors, no windows. So for all intents and purposes, it's basically a motorcycle with four wheels (plus two seats and a steering wheel). You're gonna want to wear a helmet, and we wouldn't recommend riding it in the rain.

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If you're not familiar with Foryou, you're not alone. The Chinese component maker has been producing primarily aftermarket head-units since 2002. But as of today, it's getting in bed with the big boys.

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Mugen Ariel Atom – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ariel Atom Mugen Special Edition – Click above to enlarge

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2010 Ariel Atom 3 – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Ariel Atom 3 by Wimmer RS – Click above for image gallery

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Ariel Atom time-lapse build – Click above to watch the video after the jump

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The Ariel Atom is a lightweight, high-performance sports car which started life as a design project by then-student Nik Smart. Ten years later, the Atom has progressed through three iterations, and there are plans to expand the Atom family with the creation of a motorcycle and the upcoming Ariel Atom 500 V8. The bike is still being developed, but some lucky Atom owners got a sneak peek at the V8-powered variant.

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2010 Ariel Atom 3 - Click above for high-res image gallery

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DDMWorks Ariel Atom – Click above for image gallery

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