A racing car made of steel, carbon-fiber and a 4-pot engine capable of 170 mph.
British kit car manufacturers are renowned all over the globe. They come and go, spring out of the motorsport industry based at the Carburetor Valley in Oxfordshire and the Midlands, and then disappear for good. One cannot forget the Caparo, a short lived ambitious experiment with an F1 style road car, dubbed the T1, which resulted in two or three cars built. One of them is now used by Diageo, Johnny Walker's mother company, as a marketing tool driven occasionally by two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen.
The failure of one enterprise shouldn't hinder others from trying their luck and ability. The latest enterprise on the block is BAC, the manufacturer of the Mono, a single seater racing contraption with a license plate that, by its looks and nature, should be the British equivalent to the Austrian KTM X-Bow. The BAC Mono is priced at about $125,000, a thick pile of notes for a single-seater. Despite the price tag, it is not a supercar: The engine is only 4-pot unit and its creators don't pretend to create a supercar.
In order to reduce the costs, its chassis, unlike that of a racing car, it is built of tubular spaceframe welded and covered and strengthened by composite materials panels providing the body its unique appearance. Elements of legal road cars like headlights and mudguards can be found but no canopy or any other method of protection for the driver is available. A helmet is of necessity when driving the Mono, to say the least. The car is very low and flat i.e. the front-end's height is almost the same as the rear. The engine is mid-mounted and the car is RWD through a six-speed sequential gearbox with semi-automatic pneumatic paddle shift and LSD.
The original Ford Duratec 2.3-liter engine received an extensive 'hormones' treatment at Cosworth and power has been increased to 280hp at 7,700 rpm and torque to 206.5 lb-ft at 6000 rpm. Numbers that will ensure the driver keep his right foot on the pedal. With curb weight of 1,190lbs, the car is ultra-lightweight and sprints to top speed of 170mph and accelerates from standstill to 60mph in just 2.8 sec. That is an impressive data sheet that prevents the daily use of the license plate. The Mono is lacking meaningful wings elements or complex underbody structure with a diffuser, so most of the grip is mechanical.
This makes the car very quick car in a straight line and slower than what can be expected of a racing car in curves and corners. The aero development has been done so far by CFD (Computerize Fluid Dynamics) design. Although the car is street legal, the manufacturer doesn't hide that its destination is the race track. From next year an eight-round race series is being planned for Europe.
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