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Sunday, November 2, 2014

ATS 2500 GT: What Happens When Engineers Quit Ferrari





After 1961′s “Palace Revolt,” when a group of some of Ferrari’s most talented engineers left after a falling out with Enzo’s wife, a new company was formed to compete with their former employer.

 Automobili Turismo e Sport (ATS), with backing from wealthy Italian aristocrat Count Volpi and the talents of both Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, aimed to build an advanced mid-engined sports car and run a successful Formula One team.

Bizzarrini soon left ATS, but Chiti continued with development of 1.5 and 2.5-liter versions of a V8 to be shared by both the F1 car and the road-going ATS. The overhead cam engine was all aluminum and in street trim the 2467 cc unit gave a healthy 220 horsepower.


The chassis was a lightweight alloy spaceframe and the Dunlop disc brakes were inboard at the rear, while the steel bodywork was penned by Franco Scaglione. One of the first mid-engined automobiles for the road, the ATS 2500 GT debuted at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show.

While the 2500 GT was a gorgeous, fast and appealing car that got ATS plenty of positive press, the Formula One program was both wildly expensive and spectacularly unsuccessful with no championship points to show for it. Chiti pulled the plug on the F1 car in 1964.


Unfortunately, it was too late to save ATS. When Bizzarrini left, he took with him Volpi’s backing and the funds just didn’t exist to produce such an exotic, expensive car as the 2500 GT.

Although the 2500 GT looked fantastic and was capable of over 160 miles per hour, it was never given the chance to really prove itself. It is thought that about a dozen chassis were made and only eight complete cars, making it one of the great “what ifs” of Italian sports cars.