Liverpool is not without form when it comes to automotive. After all we do build the Range Rover Evoque and the Vauxhall Astra – two very good cars in their own right – and have a long, if not always totally successful, history of car-making.
The reveal of the Briggs Automotive Company’s (BAC) Mono supercar this Summer kicked things, if you will, into overdrive. The Mono – a lightweight one-seater with a focus on dynamics rather than outright power – is the brainchild of brothers Ian and Neill Briggs, who have an impressive heritage in the industry.
They boast a formidable reputation and client list (Bentley, Ford, Porsche) – and run a design studio and conceived the Mono as a shop window.
“At the very least we thought it would be a great acquisition project for us, where we could show potential clients what we’re capable of, but it’s become our main focus,” says Ian Briggs who designed the car; brother Neill is the project director.
“We had the desire to own and drive something like this but we also wanted to show what we could do to the big car companies. The private and professional desires came together and in mid-2011 we debuted the car in Stuttgart and had a great response. Within six weeks we had an order for 80 cars. It just went crazy.
“We didn’t really know whether it would take off or stay a side business so we – we were just falling over ourselves in terms of space; now we’ve got the people and the space to expand into Liverpool.
The factory in south Liverpool isn’t a coincidence or simply result of some attractive tax breaks. With a lengthy supply chain in the area due to the North West’s automotive know-how it was an obvious place to do business.
“One of the challenges you have is that you can’t afford automation; we needed guys from the automotive or aerospace industries or very highly-skilled technicians. But due to the amount of car industry in the Merseyside area we were able to recruit from the supply chains around here.
The car will be built at Speke Hall Industrial Estate and is being tested on roads around Liverpool. You may have seen it being put through its paces on the Top Gear track by The Stig. Should you be interested you can expect 300 horses and a sprint time of 2.8 seconds for your £100K. But this is a car that’s much more about ride and handling than outright speed – and what’s really clever is the adaptive gearing, meaning that you can have the car set up to complement your local track.
The track, of course, is where the car can really come alive – although Ian is at pains to point out the versatility of the car on A and B roads; even around town. It’s the purity of the vision of a car designed purely to be enjoyed, free of compromise, that excites him.
“The more you think it, cars have always had a legacy of transportation – even with supercars – whereas if you look at something you do just for the fun of it such as skiing or mountain-biking, you’d never dream of having an additional occasional passenger. Imagine having a mountain bike that would allow you to occasionally take a pillion passenger – how compromised would that be?
“Because cars are a transport medium people don’t view them in that way but start with a blank sheet of paper and design something specifically for the enjoyment. It’s about a pure experience.”
Ian’s attention is distracted by a troupe of young scousers. “Is that your car mate?” they shout at him. “You must be a millionnaire!” Ian demurs as they turn their attention back to the car, marvelling at its lines and quiet intent. Already this is a Liverpool supercar.