Forgotten beauty: ATS 2500 GT
Made as a revenge against Ferrari...but it wasn't quite successful
If you go through some history books, you might notice that there are many cars that you might have forgotten about. Some have been forgotten by “accident”, which is fine. Quite a lot of cars have been made since the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, so it’s easy to overlook few of them. On the other hand, there are cars that have been forgotten for a reason. One of them is the ATS 2500 GT. It was very beautiful, no question there, but it was a complete failure.
The ATS stands for “Automobili Turismo e Sport”, and it was a company founded by two men: Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini. Both were working for Ferrari, but they quit due to “uncomfortable working environment”. They started by testing their luck in Formula 1, with a goal to beat Ferrari at their own game (pictured below). But, their luck was nowhere in sight. They entered 5 races and they didn’t win anything. In 1963, they realized that racing wasn’t really for them, so they decide to make road cars instead and, hopefully, beat the Prancing Horse in the market.
ATS 100 driven by Phil Hill at the 1963 Italian Grand Prix. Credit: Promotipo
The car they made was the 2500 GT which, as I said, is quite a looker. It was also one of the first cars ever to be mid-engined. The 2.5-litre V8 was making 220hp, which was not bad for the 1960s. And for a car with a top speed of 241 km/h (150 mph), it wasn’t slow either. The body was styled by Franco Scaglione, who also gave us the Jaguar XK 150, NSU Prinz and Lamborghini 350 GT. So, this is the man who knew how to use a pencil properly.
Despite looking nice, and being light (around 750kg), the car wasn’t a success. The 2500 GT was just too expensive for what it offered...which was nothing. A company that no one had heard of before, with no racing pedigree (apart from losing every race it entered), and no experienced test drivers (meaning the car wasn’t the best in handling). The company was struggling with low demand and strong rivals, so in 1965 it closed its doors.
Giotto Bizzarrini then started another company (carrying his last name), but later joined Lamborghini. Carlo Chitti founded Autodelta, a company that worked closely with Alfa Romeo for the next couple of decades. But what about the car?
This one was sold for just over $500.000 at an auction in 2009
Well, only 12 were made (4 prototypes and 8 customer cars). Out of the 8 customer cars, only 5 have survived. The company is now trying to make a comeback with the new 2500 GT, but with a starting price of $1.15 million for their new car, I have a feeling that history might repeat itself very soon.
The 2018 ATS 2500 GT concept. Credit: Autocar