I recently had the chance to drive the BAC Mono, which is a single-seat vehicle that can only be described as a race car for the road. Earlier this month, I drove the Ariel Atom, which I also described the same way. But the BAC Mono is far more insane, a far more ridiculous and unbelievable single-seater car. Driving it was an immense thrill.
First, a little background. BAC is a British company and BAC stands for "Briggs Automotive Company." The car is called the "Mono" because there’s just one seat. The curb weight of this particular car is around 1,200 pounds, which is just unbelievably light. It’s about a quarter of the weight of a BMW X5. Power comes from a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s based on a Ford design but heavily modified by Cosworth. The result is 285 horsepower and 210 lb-feet of torque. Those figures aren’t that impressive until you remember the car’s curb weight. The result is 0-to-60 in 2.8 seconds which is, of course, obscenely fast.
It’s also obscenely expensive. Your BAC Mono weighs only about a quarter of what the BMW X5 weighs and yet it costs $250,000. That may seem to you like an enormous figure and indeed it is — but I must admit that driving this car was a thrill unlike any other I’ve ever gotten on the road in any vehicle at any time, ever.
To start, there’s no windshield. So I borrowed a set of motorcycle-designed sunglasses from the car’s owner. They have something of a gasket around the lenses so they seal up with your face. The no-windshield thing is quite an impressive trick because it makes this car feel even faster than it is and it’s quite fast. You just have an endless torrent of rushing air coming at your face and then that rushing air rushes even more insanely when you’re going really fast. It’s really something.
Not that you need any tricks to make this car seem fast. You floor it in the Mono and you’re instantly delivered an unbelievable rush of power that’s similar to few cars. Yes, other exotics are faster or just as fast, but you never quite hear it or feel it like you do in the Mono. This thing is just amazingly visceral and you really feel like you’re driving a race car on the road. There’s no climate control, no airbags, no padded leather everywhere. You have what you need and just that.
Really, though, I can’t even begin to explain how much of an insane thrill this car is to drive. I’ve never quite driven anything that made me scream and swear and smile like this car. It’s essentially a Ferrari or a Lamborghini but with all of the luxuries taken out, for the kind of people who really and truly want the most ultra-focused street car they could possibly find.
Of course, that begs the question: Who exactly are those people? It’s a good one because the market for quarter-million-dollar, single-seater cars with zero comfort that can also be road-legalized is pretty much zero, or maybe like six or seven. The guy I borrowed the car from — he reckons he’s driven it more than any other Mono owner, around 7,500 miles — is one of those people. But who else would be?
Very few people, of course, which is why this thing doesn’t find very many sales. I’d never want to own it, as the driving experience is simply too insane, crazy and tiresome for any rational person. But I totally get the appeal. If you’ve ever wanted your own roller coaster, it exists and its name is the BAC Mono.