Not long ago, the super-lightweight sports car market comprised just one vehicle: the Caterham 7, which is still built on the recipe automotive genius Colin Chapman introduced in 1957. More recently though, the track-day-car segment has expanded to include products such as the Ariel Atom, KTM X-Bow and BAC Mono. Built by Briggs Automotive Company in a small shop near Liverpool, the Mono just received an update for 2016 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Founded in 2009, BAC needed just two years to develop the Mono single-seat sports car, with input from iconic British brands such as Cosworth and Hewland. The original recipe was simple and followed in the footsteps of the legendary Lotus Seven. The Mono tipped the scales at less than 600 kg (1,323 pounds) and used a small-displacement engine rated 285 horses for a supercar-like power-to-weight ratio.

The updated Mono was developed along the same lines. Now slightly lighter and more powerful, it takes on updated rival offerings from companies such as Caterham and Ariel. The cockpit is still custom-built around the customer’s body shape for the utmost experience on both the road and the track. Keep reading to find out what’s new.

Updated 9/1/2015: Our man Jonathan Lopez took some pics at Monterey Car Week. Enjoy!

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 BAC Mono.

Exterior

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2016 BAC Mono High Resolution Exterior
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2016 BAC Mono High Resolution Exterior
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Overall, the 2016 BAC Mono is identical to the original model the British brand launched in 2011. Though it appears as if BAC meddled mildly with the car’s splitter and Formula 1-style side pods, most of the design remains unaltered.

Though it appears as if BAC meddled mildly with the car's splitter and Formula 1-style side pods, most of the design remains unaltered.

Of course, the model showcased at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed sported loads of unpainted carbon fiber, but, other than that, very little sets the two generations apart.

That’s far from upsetting though, especially for gearheads that are familiar with no-nonsense sports cars and their simple but aerodynamic designs.

The high-strength carbon-fiber-composite body is a carryover, as is the front carbon-fiber crash box. Even the wheels are identical, sporting the same nine-spoke design and black paint.

No word on new additions to the color palette, but customers will likely be able to select from a wide variety of grays, two shades of white, black, and more lively colors such as green, blue and orange, all featuring a pearl metallic finish.

Interior

Even though there are no photos of the Mono’s interior, logic dictates it remains unchanged. Built inside a steel safety cell with an FIA-compliant rollover structure, the cockpit has room for only one seat and just the basic features needed to operate such a car. That includes a pair of pedals and a multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters.

And that’s about it. No fancy aluminum inserts, no Alcantara, and no leather. To me, this thing is perfect. However, I know a few folks that would complain about BAC not offering a two-seat version.

Drivetrain

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This is where the big news lies, as the BAC Mono is now motivated by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine prepped by Mountune. For the uninitiated, Mountune is a British specialist that offers performance upgrades for both the Ford Fiesta and Focus, as well as a wide array of racing engines from Ford, Jaguar, Honda and Cosworth.

The new mill pumps 305 horsepower into the Mono, which, when paired with the car's curb weight of only 1,278 pounds, translates into a power-to-weight ratio of 526 horsepower per ton.

The new mill pumps 305 horsepower into the Mono, which, when paired with the car’s curb weight of only 1,278 pounds, translates into a power-to-weight ratio of 526 horsepower per ton. Impressive!

The new 2.5-liter unit replaces the 280-horsepower, 2.3-liter Cosworth engine used in previous 2011 BAC Mono cars. Although there’s no word on what transmission comes with the new four-pot, my best guess is that BAC offers a revised version of the Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox with a limited-slip differential.

Moving over to performance figures, BAC makes no mention of the car’s new 0-to-60 mph sprints. However, it’s safe to assume that the extra 25 horses and lower curb weight likely shave as much as two tenths of a second off the previous model’s 2.8-second benchmark. If this proves to be true, the new Mono is as quick as a Bugatti Veyron. Its top speed likely remains unchanged at 170 mph.

Making the BAC Mono that much more impressive was its mind-boggling run up the Goodwood hill. According to the manufacturer, quoting on-board telemetry, the 2016 Mono completed the course in just 47.9 seconds, a record for road-legal cars. Though the time was unofficial, it’s still impressive.

Moreover, BAC also claims the Mono lapped the Hungaroring track in 1:55 minutes. It might not sound very impressive on its own, but it’s downright outstanding once you know it makes the Mono 9.5 seconds faster than a 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 and 4.5 seconds quicker than a 2014 McLaren P1. There’s no word on a Nurburgring lap time, though.

Prices

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BAC has yet to unveil pricing for the 2016 Mono, but it did say it has made the first steps toward selling its products in the U.S., Asia, and even South America. Not that the Mono wasn’t already available Stateside through Sector111, but it seems the Brits aim to get more serious about it. Still, you shouldn’t expect a massive import of Monos in the U.S., as BAC is able to build only one vehicle a month at its factory in Liverpool.

Competition

2013 Caterham Seven 620R

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When it comes to lightweight vehicles that can be used on both the street and the track, the Caterham Seven is the car to beat. Sure, it might not have the single-seat configuration and the F1-inspired styling of the BAC Mono, but the British sports car has been around for more than half a century and is still used as a benchmark by most of its competitors. The 620R is currently the the most extreme version of the Seven, being the lightest and most-powerful version to date.

Powered by a 2.0-liter Ford Duratec engine rated at 311 horsepower and 219 pound-feet of torque, the 620R needs just 2.8 seconds to hit 60 mph and reaches a top speed of 155 mph. The only problem with the 620R is that it’s not available in the U.S., where only the 360 and 480 are imported by Superformance. This means U.S. customers will have to settle for the 480’s 237 horsepower as the most powerful option, and pay $65,000 for one.

If you live in the U.K., though, you can have the 620R from £49,995, which converts to around $77,000.

Read more about the Seven 620R here.

2015 Ariel Atom 3S

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The Ariel Atom 3S is insanity pushed to a whole new level.

The Atom 3S is the latest development of Ariel’s no-nonsense sports car. Although not as powerful as the limited-edition V-8, the 3S comes with an impressive 365-horsepower output thanks to its turbocharged, 2.4-liter Honda engine. It needs only 2.8 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph and 10.7 ticks to complete the quarter mile, making it one of the very few sports cars to deliver supercar-like performance figures.

The 3S also features a revised design, now including F1-style pods for the intercoolers and an optional windscreen. New transmission choices and chassis upgrades are also on the table, but the big news here is that the 3S is available to U.S. enthusiasts, with prices starting from $89,975.

Find out more about the Atom 3S here.

Conclusion

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The BAC Mono is an enthusiast car, built for gearheads that are looking for a track tool to be used mostly on weekends. Even though it can be used on public roads, the lack of a passenger seat and trunk prevents it from being a useful daily driver. I doubt this is an issue with most gearheads, but the single-seat configuration basically puts the Mono in a niche of its own in an already small market. This may be an advantage in the eyes of those looking for an F1-style experience, but it will chase away customers in need of a passenger seat.

Nevertheless, this is an important update that comes nearly five years after BAC launched its first Mono. Now lighter and more powerful, the 2016 Mono proves that Briggs Automotive Company isn’t resting on its laurels in a market in which most makers already offer at least three versions of their sports cars. The 2016 Mono is still a very small player at around 12 units per year, but if successful in markets such as Asia and North America, I wouldn’t be surprised to see BAC expand its lineup the Caterham way in the future.

  • Leave it
    • * Very limited production capacity
    • * Likely to cost more than $100K in the U.S.
    • * Just one seat

Press Release

BAC introduced the 2016 Model Year Mono to the world at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, with an unofficial road car record-breaking run on the famous hillclimb. With a series of runs comfortably sub 50-seconds, and a fastest time of 47.9, the Mono is able to compete with many dedicated racing cars.

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The blistering runs capped off a successful Festival of Speed for BAC, where they met countless enthusiasts on the manufacturer lawn and entertained current and potential customers at the BAC bespoke customer experience zone, featuring several cars, a cutaway chassis, technical exhibits and an owners’ lounge.

With BAC test driver Oliver Webb at the wheel, the Goodwood hillclimb time was set in BAC’s 2016 Model Year Mono, featuring an all-new 2.5-litre Mountune four-cylinder engine producing 305bhp – that’s up 25bhp on the previous 2.3-litre Cosworth engine. The revised car weighs in at just 580kg giving an incredible 526bhp per tonne. The new 2016 Model Year Mono also includes a drive-by-wire throttle as well as a bespoke driver fitment culminating in a custom steering wheel and seat tailor-made for the owner.

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What makes the hill time all the more impressive is the fact it was set while Oliver was not attempting a record as he was driving a car fitted with a pre-production prototype engine.

The BAC Mono already has an impressive list of records to its name. It is officially the second fastest road legal car around the Top Gear test track, with a time of 1:14.3.In recent testing at the Hungaroring, Oliver Webb revealed just how fast the Mono is, as it lapped the circuit in 1:55, 9.5 seconds faster than a Porsche 911 GT3, 7 seconds faster than a Ferrari Speciale and an incredible 4.5 seconds faster than a McLaren P1.

The success at Goodwood reflects a wider momentum within the BAC brand, with a new dedicated factory for design and build based in Liverpool giving a capacity for producing one car per month in current specification. With the factory located next door to Liverpool Airport, and the support of the city behind it, BAC can also uniquely claim to be the only car manufacturer that has the rights to use a working regional airport on which to test and shakedown customer cars.

BAC work to a coherent strategy and this has enabled them to focus on cutting-edge product development and commercialisation via key export markets in the US, South America, Japan and Asia. As the company grows rapidly, it is developing partnerships with complementary luxury companies, and BAC becoming increasingly known as a unique British brand in the top tier of the global luxury market.

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Oliver Webb commented, “It’s always a privilege to drive at Goodwood and particularly to be entrusted to give the 2016 Model Year Mono its world debut in the ‘First Glance Class’. As Goodwood regulars will know, this class is not timed but our onboard telemetry showed that all of our runs were comfortably sub 50-seconds. Our time would have been faster than the quickest time set in this year’s supercar shoot out and would have even beaten the fastest road car time ever recorded on the hillclimb, by the mighty Nissan GT-R Nismo Time Attack. Clearly our times were unofficial, but I would love to come back next year and challenge for the record officially, on new tyres and with our latest-spec Mountune engine. “

Speaking after the successful weekend at Goodwood, Andrew Whitney, Director of Strategy and Corporate Development said, “It was a fantastically successful weekend for us, and not just with our speed on the legendary hill. The customer experience zone was permanently busy and we were overwhelmed with serious interest, resulting in orders being taken well into double figures.

“It’s a very exciting time for the company, with new investment, a new factory and with our entry into new global markets. While we continue to update the Mono, the purity and clarity of the original design created by company founders Ian and Neill Briggs remains. As awareness of the BAC brand builds around the world, we are finding that the Mono’s unique concept and our best of British brand values are attracting interest from famous names from the international luxury market and we are excited to raise the profile of the Mono even further.”

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