When I was a kid, it seemed as obvious to me as not putting your hand into a band saw. To me, what someone needed to do was figure out how to get a Formula 1 car onto the road for everyday street use. Or, if not an F1 car, than an F2 or a Formula Ford or something along those lines. Something that has one seat and open wheels.
“That would be so cool,” me and my childhood gearhead friends would say to one another, but alas, it hasn’t happened. Or it hasn’t happened that effectively yet. What I’m talking about is, in effect, a four-wheeled motorcycle. Something that is built for one person to drive and enjoy for sporting purposes. Sure, Gordon Murray did design fantastic and sublime Light Car Company Rocket, and LCC did build around 45 of the little beasts, but until recently that’s been about as close as we’ve ever gotten.
But now there’s a British outfit called Briggs Automotive Company, or BAC (Brits and their acronyms, I swear) that has thrown their hat into the ring of race cars for the street. What we see here (and in the video at the end of the article) is the BAC Mono, and aptly if unimaginatively named single-seater that works both on the road, with a license, and on the track.
The fellow doing the glowing video review is Steve Sutcliffe. He’s an ex-racer and now writes for the English publication Autocar. So he seems like a good choice, since, in his own words, the Mono feels and drives very close to a current F3 car. Which is pretty staggering, if you think about it. The whole mindset behind a car like the Mono is akin to handing out 50-caliber machine guns to anybody with the cash that can pass the background check. Effectively BAC is selling something that can outrun a Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle to anyone with the scratch.
You and me, sure, we’re responsible, upstanding citizens that know how to handle a car like this (track day addicts out there, raise your hands), but the thought of letting any loon lose on the roads with this makes you understand what Corvette insurance is much higher for an 18 year old than it is for a 58 year old.
And sure, one of the limiting factors in money. The BAC Mono rings out at £79,950 which is around $120,000, give or take the vagaries of exchange rates. But money does not equal brains (see Trump, Donald) or even the common sense it would take to tool around in this thing. The way Sutcliffe describes it, it takes only a fraction of an inch of throttle input or steering lock to move this car forward or deflect it with amazing speed.
So no, we wouldn’t want to give this to just anyone, but America is a society that is (more or less) based on giving anything to anyone who desires it with the cash to obtain it. Maybe that’s why, so far, the BAC Mono is only streetable in England. Which is sad, but it will also be interesting to see if someone with a predilection for cars like this (Jay Leno, I’m looking at you) can get one imported and licensed.
The specs for the Mono are a dead on bull’s-eye: 1,190-pound weight, 280-horsepower, four-cylinder Cosworth engine and its F3 suspension. It’s like a single seat, carbon fiber tubbed Lotus 7 (peace and blessings be upon Colin Chapman) with a HUGE horsepower engine mounted somewhere within. Even Sutcliffe said it handles better than a Lotus Elise, so that whole Lotus vibe isn’t just my fault.
Another thing that will make this a rarity and not what I’m hoping for (enthusiasts single seaters about as cheap and available as Suzukis) is that Briggs Automotive Company is making 35 Monos this year, and they’ve already been sold (or at least spoken for) by a bunch of British track-tards. Next year, BAC will be cranking out 50, but 2012′s run is also sold out.
So, alas and alac, my dreams of having a street legal Lotus 35 will have to wait.