Mutiny on Four Wheels: How BAC Is Redefining Car Customization

by Andrew Wheeler
- Nov 25 2015 - 5 min read
Courtesy BAC

BAC Mono is a mind-blowing supercar, a mechanized cheetah of a street-legal driving experience. Breathtaking. Unreal. Race it at the track, or speed along your favorite highway. Just you in your supercar—passengers need not apply.

Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) produces the highly bespoke single-seater supercar, a paragon of car customization. The car and the company are the collective brainchildren of brothers Ian and Neill Briggs, who share a lifelong passion for cars, from driving and racing to production. With three decades of experience as engineers and designers in the automotive industry, the Briggs brothers sought to create a car free from compromise. So in 2009, they cofounded BAC in the port city of Liverpool, England, to do just that.

A supercar fit for a rockstar: Deadmau5’s bespoke Mono. Courtesy BAC.

In 2011, they introduced Mono, with the intent of making it fully street legal, and it slowly became a hit among enthusiasts. But in 2015, word about this central-seat driving machine began to spread quickly—and not just because of its DTM-inspired composite carbon-fiber construction, steel chassis, six-speed Hewland gearbox, 305-horsepower Mountune engine (upgraded from the 280-horsepower Cosworth), or ability to go from 0 to 62 MPH in 2.8 seconds.

Word about the upgraded 2016 BAC Mono caught fire following the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed. During unofficial timed runs, Mono, piloted by driver Oliver Webb, made the 1.16-mile uphill climb in 47.9 seconds—which burned the fastest official time of 51.33 seconds. Due to Mono’s preproduction prototype status, it wasn’t able to officially compete. But it will be ready for an official showdown in the future.

With an amazing combination of design and engineering, power, and a clear disdain for making any decisions that compromise a truly pure driving experience, BAC has conflated buying Mono with a behind-the-scenes design experience unlike any other. BAC Mono customers have the chance to sit with the design team and influence the look and feel of their cars from beginning to end.

After an initial presentation to the client, BAC’s bespoke atmosphere lights up like a candle. “We’ll make them aware that, in essence, this is a life without compromises—so it’s kind of an open space, a free flow of ideas,” says Neill Briggs. “We ask them if they have any inspiration to give us or some key ideas about where we can take their schemes. That can be it. From a customer’s perspective, some of them can get quite involved in the design. So they can say, ‘Hey, what if I did this, this, this, and this?’ They can have various clippings from magazines of things that they thought were cool.”

An aerial view of Mono’s cockpit. Courtesy BAC.

As you can imagine, BAC’s clients are all high-net-worth types (Mono pricing starts around $200,000), and they generally already have a few supercars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and so on. They may even have a direct connection to a regional dealer, but they generally do not get a chance to meet the company’s owner or collaborate with the design team to sculpt the perfect supercar of their dreams.

“It starts off in a 2D world, and then we create 3D images of the car,” Briggs says, explaining how BAC collaborates with clients. “When you show certain snapshots of different angles, you do get a feel for it. And, inevitably, there’s always the moment where someone goes, ‘Can you just stand it a little bit higher? I just can’t quite see that bit.’ So we create a nice little animation, and then from that point, it’s just a classic iterative process.”

Apparently, it doesn’t take more than two iterations, on average, before most customers are revving with excitement. The BAC design team then creates masking for the color scheme physically on a car body, matching it up with a paint guide to ensure that the position and the interpretation are exactly what the customer originally wanted. The car is sprayed, painted, lacquered, and polished before making its way to a designated facility for final assembly. Once it’s finished, the car is handed over to the customer.

Final Mono assembly at BAC headquarters. Courtesy BAC.

But that isn’t all that the customer walks away with. “We capture all of this in the form of photographs, and we end up actually giving the customer a book,” Briggs says. “It’s a personalized book/story of making it.”

The book displays the finished car on the front with its number and then illuminates the design of the pedal-box assembly, the engine assembly, all the rolling chassis, and the harnesses. It describes the process of personalization, summing up the masking process, the painting, and the final assembly; it ends with some fantastic showroom photos.

Courtesy BAC

BAC’s complete “portfolio of tailoring” includes accessories to the car, such as customized helmet schemes; race suits; and form-fitted, molded steering wheels and seats. But what may seem like excessive tailoring isn’t just about achieving aesthetic pleasure.

“It’s actually safety related,” Briggs says. “So the made-to-measure seat is a safer environment to be in, and the made-to-measure helmet is the safer environment to be in. If you can make that helmet fit your head even better, then in the event of an impact, you’re not going to get any hot spots. That ultimately is what causes injury where you get fractures, breaks, or whatever. If you can disperse force over the entire helmet, then, obviously, it’s way better. If you can make sure that the person’s grip on the steering wheel is uncompromised, you’re giving them the best possible chance in the event that things go wrong. But you’re enhancing the driving experience, as well.”

As demand for BAC Mono continues to rise, the shift from producing one per month to two per month and beyond involves many factors, not least of which is communicating and collaborating evenly between the areas that affect it most: finance, people and processes, and IT infrastructure. It also includes a crucial understanding of how to grow the supply chain. Autodesk PLM 360 will help us do that,” Briggs says. “It means that we can produce more cars a lot quicker. For example, we went from 12 cars to 24 cars, and we’ll go from 24 cars to 50 cars.”

Courtesy BAC

With back orders climbing, scaling up production without compromising the customer experience is paramount. It’s that bespoke experience of buying a BAC Mono that makes purchasing one so uniquely attractive—even under seemingly impossible circumstances. “Our customers are pretty cash rich and time poor,” Briggs says, with a tasteful hint of incredulity, describing a customer in London with no time to come to Liverpool. “He was staying at the Dorchester, and we sent the chassis and the team down there—but we did it in his suite. It was just such a fun experience, and no one else is in the automotive world is doing it.”

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