Having passed through several high-profile owners, including WO Bentley’s godson and the Le Mans Museum, custodian Dr Tom Rollason has decided to let the car go. Dr Rollason bought the car in 1985, spending ten years getting it back on the road after an exhaustive restoration.
Conceived by Aston’s then-owner Gordon Sutherland, the car was finished six weeks after the evacuation of Dunkirk and pressed into service as his family transport. It marked the beginning of a long career spanning 250,000 miles – all the more impressive when you remember that the Atom was a concept car. It showcased the talents of chief designer Claude Hill, who commissioned a tubular chassis clad in lightweight aluminium panels. Its fastback styling reflected the streamlined ideal that had gathered pace in the ‘Thirties. The Atom’s mechanical specification was similarly advanced.
Independent, coil-sprung front suspension was to Gordon Sutherland’s own patented design. At the rear the Atom was one of the first cars to use a Salisbury hypoid rear axle. Gear changing was provided by a Cotal semi-automatic, used in contemporary Delahayes and Peugeots.
Its 2.0-litre (1950cc) four-cylinder engine provided the basis for the later David Brown Astons, employing an overhead-cam lay-out. Later the Atom was used as the basis for the prototype DB1, winning the 24 Hours of Spa in 1948 with Jock Horsfall and Leslie Johnson.
Auctioneer Bonhams will sell the Atom at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Friday, June 27. More information at Bonhams