Simon Saunders

Occupation: Managing Director, Ariel Motor Company

What is your greatest achievement?It has to be the success of the Ariel Atom. But designers are seldom happy with what they have achieved so the best is always yet to come.

What is your biggest regret? Looking backwards isn’t healthy, although learning from mistakes and turning negatives into positives is part of our philosophy.

Whose work in the industry today do you admire most and why? I admire Morgan and their steady, moral way of doing things.

Who inspired you to join the industry and why? As a boy I loved drawing and I loved cars, so I thought drawing cars would be a good job. Naïve but it worked out.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? If you’re determined and keep on trying you can make it happen.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in the next 12 months? As a small manufacturer with low production numbers legislation is our single biggest hurdle.

What car do you drive for fun? The Atom of course. At the other end of the scale my geriatric, jacked up Defender.

When did you last go for a drive for the sake of it? Where did you go? Last weekend on a motorbike, but that was kind of work too (we’re working on a new Ariel bike).

What’s the best moment you’ve had in a car? It was an interesting night in what turned out to be someone’s drive, just outside St Tropez in an Escort.

What was your first car? An E-type Jaguar FHC 3.8. I debumpered it, deseamed it, painted it black and got it up to a wayward 155mph.

Did you pass your test first time? No. I called it the racing line… the examiner called it cutting a corner. Second time, though.

How will most cars be powered in 30 years time? I’m unsure that cars, as we know them, will be around. Maybe 30 years is a bit soon but in 50 years cars you drive will be trailered to a track.

It’s your last drive. One car, one road. Which and where? The road home. In an Atom of course.

What music do you listen to in the car? No stereo in the Atom or Defender...

What’s the best book about cars or car people you’ve ever read? Tricky. I read a lot, but not about cars.

How has Ariel survived where other new car companies have failed? We are very good at what we do and don’t do what we can’t.

How many V8 Atoms will you build and how many have already been sold? There will be 25 V8 Atoms. I think we are up to 21 sold now.

Will Ariel build a car faster than the V8? The V8 will be the fastest Atom but a quicker Ariel? We’ll see. I would think so.

Will Ariel build a more user-friendly car with proper weather equipment? My aim was always for Ariel to build interesting cars. If Ariel made a limousine it would likely need a roof and wouldn’t have a trellis frame!

What emerging technologies interest you? Will we ever see an electric Ariel ? Because of costs probably not, but I can see a very high performance hybrid Ariel in the future.