In a small, modern manufacturing facility in Liverpool, two brothers have created something rather special. Ian and Neill Briggs – with their combined automotive passion and rich backgrounds in design and engineering – formed the Briggs Automotive Company to build a supercar like no other: the BAC Mono. I spent some time testing out the car and getting the inside knowledge from Ian.
As the name suggests, the BAC Mono is a single seater. It might be a road-legal car yet it is far closer in spirit to Formula One with its slender body, race-tuned rear engine and exposed suspension. It is intimate and raw, and driving purity lies at the heart of its design. The weight of vehicles with significant luggage space or a passenger seat are compromised, Ian says, affecting performance. Indeed, my modest mass is an eighth of the car’s mere 580kg so placing the driver centrally makes good sense.
Snuggly positioned behind the wheel, I am forced to put ideas of conventional controls out of my mind: here are buttons on the steering wheel, shift paddles and a six-speed sequential gearbox. Forget a full windscreen and any rear visibility too, although it is soon clear that what’s behind doesn’t matter.
The chatter from the 305bhp, 2.5-litre Mountune engine diminishes as it is revved faster. It feels alive. The snap of the gear up-changes, wave after wave of power; the Mono transforms the harder it is worked. The wind tugs at my helmet and the sheer din of the engine and exhaust close behind is gratifyingly coarse and loud. This isn’t driving. It’s an immersion.
The first few miles require some extra concentration. Are the revs high enough for clutch-less changes? Have I brought the gears down to first when pulling up to a junction? And where are those indicator buttons? Yet it isn’t long before the mechanics of driving the Mono become second nature and the experience is increasingly about car and driver being at one. The Mono might be happier the faster it is driven but it isn’t hard to pilot through the slower roads of towns and villages either. Its suspension is surprisingly pliant and the steering delights in its directness.
All too soon, the morning’s drive in glorious winter sun is over. The Mono is huge fun on the road – the scope (and safety) of a track will have to wait for another day. I question Ian about a single series race and his eyes light up. It is all part of his future vision. Asked what he’d improve with the Mono, he doesn’t miss a beat there either: everything.
He is pleased with the car but his restless nature means he can’t stop thinking about adopting the latest manufacturing techniques to shave off a few grams where he can. Ian becomes particularly animated when it comes to 3D printing methods and the opportunities they will deliver in his pursuit for increased strength and reduced weight.
The Mono is the start of the BAC journey. Electric propulsion will be part of the plan, although the brothers are undecided on the exact technology as yet. Excitingly, BAC doesn’t see itself as a single-product company. Ideas for the next car are kept close to Ian’s chest, although, with his childhood passion for rallying, I wonder if it might be something more rugged.
Driving experience aside, it is the care and attention to detail that stand out with the Mono. The parts you can see are beautifully finished, but so are the components you can’t, as I discover when looking at the part-assembled vehicles in the workshop.
And while I can’t help thinking I’d love to have a partner or friend with me on the drive, the Mono is really all about self-indulgence. Forget the regular paradigms associated with a car: for an invigorating driving experience, little comes close to the Mono.