Top 10 One-Seater Cars You Should Have In Your Garage
I wish Morgan made a single-seat 3 Wheelerby Ciprian Florea, on
Two-seater vehicle aren’t exactly practical, but this layout is usually associated with sports cars, so you sacrifice practicality for fun and speed. Things become even more complicated with a single-seat layout, but this means a lighter construction and more freedom to improve aerodynamics.
The fastest race cars out there are usually single-seaters, so a road-legal vehicle with just one seat is a hot dream. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Morgan 3 Wheeler, but since this car has two seats it doesn’t have a place on this list. But here’s 10 single-seat vehicles that should be fun to own either for their performance specs or compact dimensions.
Built by a small Spanish shop from Barcelona, Spain, the Tramontana R is a Formula One car for the road in terms of design.
Granted, it's not as sleek and aggressive as a proper F1 monoposto, but it shares most features, including the pointy nose, the side pods, and the rear wing.
But unlike a Formula One car, it features clamshell fenders front and rear. Another major difference is the closed off cockpit, which looks quite cool thanks to a jet fighter inspired design. Another cool feature is the 5.2-liter V-10 engine borrowed from Lamborghini. The mill cranks out 651 horsepower, a massive amount given the curb weight of only 2,795 pounds, enabling a sprint to 62 mph of 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph.
Pricing varies between €800,000 and €1.1 million (around $870,000 to $1.2 million as of March 2020), depending on specs.
|0 to 62 mph||2.7 seconds|
|Top Speed||202 mph|
While the Tramontana brings Formula One on public roads, the Carver One combines the features of a car with those of a motorcycle. It has three wheels, one in the front and two in the rear, but it features a steering wheel.
The company argues that the One offers the comfort and stability of a car and the dynamics of a motorcycle.
Only 130 inches long and 51 inches wide, the Carver One tips the scales at only 1,418 pounds. The engine is rather tiny at 0.66 liters, but its output of 65 horsepower and 74 pound-feet is enough to push the One from 0 to 62 mph in 8.2 seconds and up to a top speed of 115 mph.
The One is no longer in production due to Carver’s financial difficulties, but you can find a used one for around €30,000, which converts to about $32,700.
|0 to 62 mph||8.2 seconds|
|Top Speed||115 mph|
Read our full review on the Carver One
BAC Mono is a more popular choice when it comes to street-legal race cars with just one seat. The Mono was introduced in 2011 and it has remained relatively unchanged all these years, despite some updates operated by Briggs Automotive Company. Also inspired by Formula One cars, the Mono is the result of a cooperation between engineers from Cosworth, Hewland, Sachs, AP, and Kumho Tires.
It features a carbon-fiber composite construction over a steel chassis and it tips the scales at less than 1,200 pounds.
Power comes from a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine developed by Cosworth and Mountune and the latest update for 2021 increased output to a solid 332 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The BAC Mono returns supercar-like performance with a 0 to 62 mph sprint of 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph.
It’s also very agile, the kind of car you can use to set new records on the Nurburgring. The Mono isn’t cheap though as pricing starts from £165,950, which is approximately $212,300.
|0 to 62 mph||2.7 seconds|
|Top Speed||170 mph|
Read our full review on the 2021 BAC Mono
Ford has quite a reach history in motorsports and at some point it decided to build a race car that could be legally driven on the streets. As the name suggests, it’s the kind of monoposto you could use to start a one-make formula racing series with your rich friends.
These were actually conceived for a handful of Formula Ford championships, but were also available as customer cars.
The Formula EcoBoost draws juice from a tiny, 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine rated at 200 horsepower, but because it's light as a feather, it can hit 60 mph in a little over four seconds and a top speed of 160 mph.
The Formula EcoBoost lapped the Nurburgring in just seven minutes and 22 seconds, which is quicker than many supercars. These cars retail from around $75,000 a pop.
|Engine||1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost|
|0 to 62 mph||4 seconds|
|Top Speed||160 mph|
Read our full review on the Formula Ford Eco-Boost
Mazda Miata Mono-Posto
Introduced in 2000 and based on the second-generation MX-5, the Miata Mono-Posto is essentially a sleeker Miata without a windscreen and a covered passenger compartment. It was inspired by cars like the Lotus Eleven and the Jaguar D-Type.
Sadly, the concept didn’t catch on and Mazda never put it into production. So this is a single-seater you can’t actually buy, but some enthusiasts built a few conversions over the years. If you’re lucky you might find one for sale now and then, but it will set you back in excess of $50,000.
The Sub Three-Wheeler is the third three-wheeled vehicle from our list, but it’s actually different than the Carver One. While the latter features two wheels at the rear, the Sub has two wheels in the front, just like the iconic Morgan 3 Wheeler. So instead of the motorcycle type steering, it’s more like a standard car.
The design of the Sub Three-Wheeler is as simple as it gets, with no windscreen, no headlamps and tiny clamshell fenders over the wheels.
Although it didn’t really catch on, its 1.0-liter engine rated at 135 horsepower and curb weight of only 730 pounds combine to offer a thrilling experience on the race track. The Sub was pretty expensive when it was launched back in the mid-2000s, with the company asking $80,000 for a three-wheeler.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Palatov, it’s a relatively unknown company from Oregon, led by Dennis Palatov. But it built this awesome lightweight car that resembles prototype race cars.
The spartan yet very aerodynamic racer features a bespoke, 3.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 430 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.
It might not sound like a lot compared to modern supercars, but the D1 tips the scales at only 950 pounds. This translates into blistering sprint times and excellent agility on twisty race tracks.
The D1 costs $105,250 if you buy it as a fully assembled car, but you can also go for a kit at $57,500 and build it yourself. Palatov now offers a variety of sports cars, including the more normal looking D2 and D5.
Rinspeed Advantige R1
Rinspeed is a far more familiar brand. It has been around since the early 1990s and already launched a series of production sports cars and concepts, some of them electric.
The R1 is a lesser know model, most likely because of its one-seat layout and somewhat ugly design.
But it features a "floating" cockpit that shifts with every corner and, more importantly, it can be legally driven on public roads. Like most Rinspeed creations it’s quite fast as well. But this vehicle is hard to trace, let alone buy in 2020.
You probably know the Peel P50 from the famous TopGear episode when Jeremy Clarkson drove it into an office building and even an elevator. Yes, it’s that small! And unlike other cars on this list, the P50 isn’t a sports car. It’s a microcar that Peel Engineering Company, which used to operate on the Isle of Man, built between 1962 and 1965.
It's often described as the smallest car in the world and it features a 49 cc engine rated at just 4.2 horsepower.
The brand was reactivated in 2011 by a couple of businessmen and the P50 is back into production with a four-stoke engine or an electric motor. Pricing starts from around £14,000, which converts to about $16,200.
Read our full review on the Peel P50
Here’s another three-wheel, this time with two wheels in the front. But this one looks like a really tiny hatchback and I guess we can consider it a modern version of the P50. The design is actually nice, but the bad news is that this car is mostly road legal in Canada only.
Powered by a single electric motor rated at 82 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque and a 16-kWh battery, it provides a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of around 80 mph.
|Powetrain||single electric motor|
|Top Speed||80 mph|
Pricing starts at just below CAD20,000, which converts to around $13,800.
Read our full review on the Electra Meccanica Solo