According to Ian Fleming’s description of the Bentley Continental driven by 007 in the 1961 novel Thunderball, “Bond had the most selfish car in England.” But were Fleming alive today, he would have to concede that Bond’s Continental, with its “trim, rather square” convertible body, power-operated roof and two “large armed bucket seats in black leather”, has been thoroughly surpassed in the selfishness stakes by the car in which I recently had the ride of my life (albeit one during which I was preoccupied with not going sideways on the rain-drenched roads of Runcorn, Cheshire).
Indeed, the BAC Mono is probably not only the most selfish (road-legal) car in England, but in the entire world. As its name implies, it has but one seat. There’s no roof of any description, and no windscreen either. There are no doors, there’s certainly no heater – and it looks as though it has no right to be out and about on the public highway. Yet, despite its apparent shortcomings as a road car, the Mono is attracting steadily more attention. Now, as the upgraded 2017 model enters production, more than 70 Monos have been sold, the Briggs Automotive Company is running at a profit and the build rate is predicted to grow from two-and-a-half cars per month to four cars per month by the end of the year.
In the grand scheme of automobile manufacture these numbers are, of course, minuscule. But the fact that there are people who will happily pay £135,950 for a base model Mono bears testament to the fact that, for those who really, really love driving for driving’s sake, less is undoubtedly more.
Typically, buyers are aged between 35 and 65, own eight to 10 cars and are highly successful, self-made business types who appreciate the Mono’s status as the only single-seat road car on the market – and, in particular, the fact that each one is effectively bespoke. “Every seat is made for the specific client by the same technicians who make the seats for F1 drivers. The body can be finished in any colour or design, and every customer knows that their car will be looked after by one of the people who built it because of our ‘flying doctor’ facility – when a car needs servicing or repairing, we just put an engineer on a plane and they turn up at the owner’s home to do the work.”