ATS, or Automobili Turismo e Sport SpA, was an Italian carmaker and racing team that operated briefly between February 1962 and 1965.
The nucleus of the new company was comprised of Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, who were both involved in the development of the Ferrari GTO and, as refugees from the infamous Ferrari “Palace Revolt” of 1961, intended to mount a direct challenge to their former employer.
With the sponsorship of a trio of wealthy industrialists including Count Giovanni Volpi, who founded the well-known Scuderia Serenissima, ATS developed both a road-going sports car and a Grand Prix racing car. The resulting ATS 2500 GT coupe was initially powered by a mid-mounted 2.5-liter V8 engine designed by Chiti, with a light-alloy block and cylinder heads, a single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank, as well as a quartet of Weber twin-choke carburetors, producing 220 to 250 brake horsepower.
Based on a competition-specification braced chrome-molybdenum tubular chassis with a fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes, the resulting car was a thinly veiled racing car, capable of 160 mph.
The car made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963, where it created a sensation with its advanced mid-engine layout, shark-like body, and race-inspired specifications. Ultimately, only twelve chassis were built, including eight complete cars.
Around 1966, its first owner, Bruce McIntosh, damaged this car in an accident when it was showing fewer than 3,000 kilometers, requiring the replacement of the damaged nose with a factory-built component. The late Norbert McNamara of California, a noted racer and collector, already owned ATS chassis 2001, the Geneva show car, which had been converted to Chevrolet power.
As McNamara was in search of an original ATS engine, he purchased 2004 because it was available with a spare engine that originally powered his own car. Eventually, McNamara showed his first ATS, chassis 1001, at the 1990 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The current owner successfully negotiated the purchase of the car from the McNamara estate. The car was then shipped to the new owner’s shop in Costa Rica, where it underwent a two-year mechanical restoration.
Of special note, the body and chassis remained completely rust-free, garaged and covered for more than 35 years in the dry Northern California desert. A set of special transmission gears were fabricated, as the internal gears of the racing-specification 5-speed Colotti gearbox were the Achilles heel of the car. In addition, the car was geared too high, and while it had a potential top speed of 180 mph, it was impossible to climb steep hills from a standing start.
This ATS is the last built, one of only two examples with the 300-horsepower ATS 3-liter V8 engine, and one of only five cars to exist out of the eight cars originally built. This is the first time that an ATS has ever been publicly offered for sale at auction.