Making a car work on the road and the track always means compromise, but BAC thinks it has created an exception
First things first, the BAC Mono – at £74,950 plus VAT – is not cheap for a road car with one seat. However, if you’re looking for something that you can drive to the track, drive on the track, and then drive home in, it could be just right.
This is partly down to making sure that it relies more on mechanical grip than on sophisticated aerodynamics. As project director on the BAC Mono neill Briggs tells me, the more a car relies on aerodynamics, the higher the spring rate has to be and therefore the more uncomfortable it is on a normal British B-road.
“If you look at manufacturers like Ferrari and Porsche with their 458 italia and 911 GT3 RS, they’re basically stripped-out versions of a lightweight sports car. They work very well on track, but they’re still slower than the Mono. it works the other way as well. When Porsche made the 911 GT1 straßenversion [literally ‘road version’] it used such a huge amount of downforce that it didn’t really work on the road.
“There are various things you can do to enable the car to work on the road and the track. the main thing is to make sure the car is not too heavily reliant on aerodynamics. The brief [with the Mono] was to make the car as aerodynamically efficient as possible so that it would have a small amount of drag. OK, it creates a minimal amount of downforce so that it has some high-speed stability. With only a small amount of downforce it means that we have a genuine top speed of 170mph.
“A lot of people in motor sport, because they’re so downforce-driven, focus on aerodynamics and making the car ultra-stiff. from a mechanical perspective it’s not so good because a softer damper will more likely maintain the contact patch.”
Oliver Webb, who gives us a track guide to the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power over the page, is currently racing in indy Lights and is the development driver for the Mono.
“If you put it in a straight-line speed test with an F3 car the Mono wouldn’t be far off it. Until you take the downforce off the F3 machine, that is. If you put them both on a straight with a third-gear right-hander at the end of it, the Mono would certainly be quicker. It’s only at high-downforce corners that it would lose out. I drove it to Donington once and it really is very good on the road.”
The logic behind the Mono is certainly sound, but the proof – as always – is in the sales. So far all 50 cars that BAC is building this year have been sold and two-thirds of the 90 cars it is planning to build in 2013 have got names against them. The company is then building 120 Monos in 2014 and even they have been pre-ordered by the dealers. Not bad for a car that can only take one person and minimal luggage…