Purpose-built track toys have been cropping up for a while. They all seem to come from places where the Queen’s English is spoken, but they’ve got more than this in common. They’re all very light and simple. They’re small with small engines: modern go-karts for the road. First there was the Ariel Atom, the skeletal supercar with a Honda Civic engine. Then there was the KTM Crossbow, the slower, more expensive competitor from a bunch of mad cycle builders named Bruce.
But now a challenger has appeared in their gum-stick mirrors, and this one has exactly as many seats as an F1 car.
The BAC Mono, from British firm Briggs Automotive Company, has perfect side-to-side weight distribution, no matter how much you ate for lunch, because it only has one seat, and it’s exactly in the middle. And while this may be impractical for dates and picking up your Pyrenees from the groomer’s, it’s perfect for the track, and that’s not all that makes the Mono a car for the raceway.
It weighs just shy of 1,200 pounds. It’s loaded with a naturally aspirated, 2.3 liter Cosworth straight four between you and the rear wheels. Which makes 280 hp. And that means it can get from the flag waver to 60 in just 2.8 seconds.
There’s a complicated bird’s nest of suspension bits, too, so the Mono will pull you in and out of the corners so fast you’ll swear you’re riding a light cycle against Jeff Bridges. When you do hit that straightaway, that high-revving Cosworth will take you all the way to 170 mph before topping out.
And on your way to that limit, you’ll be delighted to find that there are three pedals on the floor. Yes, the Mono has a pair of paddle shifters, but it’s a rare single-clutch system, so if you want, you can use that clutch pedal for a little heel-toe engine braking as that chicane approaches.
The best part? When the sun has finally dropped into the orange and your track time has sadly expired, you won’t need a trailer, because the Mono has a spot for a license plate. This daft track machine is legal to drive on the road.
Or at least it is in Britain, where it’s likely to stay for a while, because this year BAC plans to build just 50 copies of the little powerhouse, with a ramp-up sometime in the future. They’re mum so far on exports.
Now, I’ve addressed this piece to a very hypothetical “You,” and I do so because, like me, you’re very unlikely to ever drive a BAC Mono. You see, it costs over 66,000 pounds, which translates to us in the colonies as just under $105,000.
Yet despite the exclusivity, the BAC is a work of genius, and the closest 50 of the 2011’s richest Brits will ever get to driving a real F1 car. It may be unattainable, but the BAC Mono is perfect in every other respect. The rest of us plebeians can stick with our Atoms and Crossbows.