ATS 2500 GTS – Car of the Day

ATS 2500 GTS

It was the revolt at Ferrari in 1961, when many of Enzo’s most important employees walked out in protest, that led to the founding of ATS in 1962 by Carlo Chiti (Ferrari’s chief engineer) and Giotto Bizzarini (development chief), both of whom had been developing Ferrari’s 250 GTO.

Instead, with a new company, they built a new model to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963 – where its looks and mid-engine layout created a sensation. It was also a powerful riposte to their old boss. This light car had a new, racing-specification chassis of chrome-molybdenum tubing fitted with all-independent suspension and a new 2.5-litre V8 designed by Chiti; it was really a thinly disguised racing car. The suspension was all independent with wishbones and coil springs front and rear, and it had disc brakes all round, inboard at the rear. In 2.5-litre form it proved capable of 160mph.

The Automobili Turismo e Sport SpA was sponsored by three industrialists, including Count Volpi, founder of the Serenissima racing team. Its drivers included F1 World Champion Phil Hill, also ex-Ferrari. It all looked promising… but then things went wrong. The new ATS GP car failed and even the best drivers could not guide it to victory. In December 1962 Count Volpi withdrew his backing.

In early 1963 production began of the 2500 GT and GTS models, available with quadruple Webers or Lucas fuel injection, but although it had been designed by the best in the business, its bodywork shaped by former Bertone stylist Franco Scaglione, it had not been fully developed, and in 1964 ATS closed. Only 12 chassis, and eight complete cars were built. Only five ATS cars remain, making this one of the rarest two-seaters in the world. It is an example of radical thought in the 1960s, and what might have been…