Up and Atom: The Ariel innovators behind Britain's Best Driver's Car


Matt Childs – parts manager, nine years at Ariel

“I have a set pattern,” Matt Childs, the parts manager, tells me. “We go around four times a day making sure the technicians have what they want for the builds. In the morning, any spare time is spent making sure orders go out. The courier comes about 1.30pm. And in the afternoon, it’s a case of packing away the day’s deliveries and making sure we make the most of the space we’ve got.”

The stock lives conveniently just above the build bays, but it’s clear that space is tight. And, obviously, not all of it is for new builds. “We do get service kits sent to garages, but a lot of parts go directly to customers,” Childs says. “A lot of them like to do stuff themselves; a lot are mechanically minded, so a lot of the dealings we have are directly with them.”

Childs thinks fewer upgrades will go to owners of the latest car as time goes on. “With the 4, we did a lot of the upgrade stuff early,” he says. “For the older cars, we tend to sell Öhlins dampers and stuff like that, which weren’t available in 2010, but with the 4, because the Öhlins and sequential ’box were available from new, there will probably be less upgrades to go out. Mostly we do stuff for Atom 2s and 3s. There are some elements of the 3 you can graft onto the 2.”

Tom Ward, chief engineer, five years at Ariel

“A typical day? I’ll go through many, many emails from many, many suppliers,” laughs Ward. “And try to ensure parts are coming in on time for prototypes. Check on the other engineers, then do a bit of design myself. Often that’s back and forth with Ralph [Tayler-Webb, chief designer], who’s telling me to make things smaller, fit between bodywork and look nice.”

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Alongside Ward and TaylerWebb, Ariel has three other design engineers. “One is full time on Nomad 2 for over a year, another is on the Hipercar and the other is now 75% on Nomad,” says Ward.



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