A 1939 Aston Martin Atom – the only one of its kind in existence – is set to be sold at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale on 27 June.
The 75-year-old Aston Martin is a streamlined prototype that has been hailed as one of the world's oldest fully operational concept cars, and features a raft of technological advancements. The lightweight aluminium bodywork clothes a tubular spaceframe chassis, while parallel-linkage coil-sprung independent front suspension ensures a smooth ride. It was also the first car in the UK to use a Salisbury back axle.
What makes the Atom's futuristic design so improbable is its gestation period; it was finished and registered just six weeks after the Dunkirk retreat, as the country was on the back foot politically and facing the fear of invasion. Only 750 private cars were registered during that year.
Former Aston Martin Managing Director Gordon Sutherland said: "The whole point of the Atom was to make the smallest and lightest enclosed saloon possible.”
Sutherland personally covered more than 100,000 miles in the Atom, frequently using it as a family vehicle with his children in the back seats.
Since then, the car has covered an impressive 250,000 miles and has changed ownership just once in the past 49 years. It will be sold with tax and MoT.
No pre-sale estimate has been issued ahead of the auction.
Bonhams Group Motoring Director James Knight explained: “Placing a value on such an important and unique motor car is nigh on impossible but it has all the right credentials: a well-respected and international marque; concours condition; originality, provenance, usability, rarity and of course its historical significance. Our initial thoughts are that it will realise many hundreds of thousands and certainly has the potential to achieve more. Time will tell though, and by offering Atom publicly at auction, we will let the market determine the value.”