I am in the lucky position of owning a number of Fairthorpes but have always hankered after an Atomota or Atom Major, both cars share a common body shell, only differing in the size of the engine hatch. The Atomota was produced first and was fitted with a 650cc BSA Motorcycle engine mated to a Standard 8 or 10 car gearbox, the suspension, brakes and axle were also from the Standard 10. It was later decided to offer the car with the option of a Standard 10 engine, this necessitated a larger engine hatch for the 4 cylinder 948cc engine. The chassis differed slightly between the two models as well, apart from the changed engine mounts the main structure over the axle at the rear was all a different shape, I will post some pictures of the differences in a future blog post. Only a small number of both models were produced, Fairthorpe customers preferring the open sports cars on offer, particularly the Electron Minor of which up to 650 were produced, mostly as kits. As so few were produced the survival numbers are very small with two Atomotas which require a lot of work to return them to the road and up until last month only one Atom Major was known to have survived. Details of Brian Water`s car can be found a number of pages back in this blog, Brian has had his car for a number of years and is currently restoring the car back to it`s former glory.
Last month the number of surviving Atom Majors suddenly doubled when one came out of a 40 year hibernation from a long forgotten garage that was so overgrown that it took 3 days to clear a way through to retrieve the car and clear the rest of the contents! I was contacted by Ian Makepeace and a deal was struck to buy the car, the following week I made the long trip down to Bristol to meet Ian and pick the Fairthorpe up. Ian had some great memories of the car, having driven it as a 14 year old round the family property with friends and the family dog in the back. This fun came to an abrupt halt once all the fuel in the tank had been exhausted as his father then refused to put any more in as he was concerned about the thought of them being tempted to drive it out onto the road. So the car was pushed into the garage and the door shut, the year was 1973...........
This Atom Major was produced in 1959 and the Fairthorpe chassis records show it as the first one made, it also has some racing history having taken part in the 1959 Autosport 3 hour race driven by Chris Meek, the engine was fitted with a Supercharger for the event, sadly Chris passed away earlier this year. John Allan`s Fairthorpe book also mentions John Green racing one with a Supercharger at Silverstone, how many were fitted with a Supercharger, possibly only this one so maybe there is more competition history to be discovered? The pictures of the car at Snetterton can be viewed at:- https://revslib.stanford.edu/?page=2&q=Fairthorpe&utf8=%E2%9C%93The Fairthorpe looks just as you would expect any `barn find` that had lain untouched for 40 odd years, a large layer of dust and many, many cobwebs, particularly under the bonnet which has the 948cc engine fitted with twin S.U carbs.
The Atom Major will be on the Fairthorpe Sports Car Club stand at the NEC Classic Car show in early November and will be displayed in as found condition, the restoration of the car will commence in the New year and will be covered in this blog so please check back in future.