Ian Briggs and his brother Neill are the brains and inspiration behind the eponymous Briggs Automotive Company. The company is perhaps better known as BAC, and is the creator of the single-seater Mono, which has won fans around the world.
My brother Neill and I grew up around cars thanks to our dad, and in many ways it was this that led us to where we are today, and to the creation of Briggs Automotive Company and the Mono.
As a family we travelled all over the north west attending all manner of motorsport events and many of my early memories come from this. Some people are prepared when it comes to going to races, but our dad took it to another level. Not only did he take printed out and enlarged sections of ordnance survey maps for the rally stages, he even went so far as to build a seat that attached to the railings at Oulton Park so Neill and I could see the racing.
Despite growing up in such a car-focused world, and being fascinated by sports cars like the Lotus Elan and the Ferrari 288 GTO, I nearly ended up going down a totally different path career wise. I only learned about the Automotive Design course at Coventry University after I had started a degree in architecture, so things could have turned out very differently.
The original spark for BAC and the Mono came during a late-night drive across Europe with German former racing driver, Frank Jelinsky. We spoke at length about his experiences in Formula 2, Formula 3 and the like and it was at that point that I knew I wanted to make a single-seater car.
The idea grew over time, when Neill and I met about once a fortnight when we both lived near Frankfurt (Neill was working on the Ford Focus RS and I was working for the likes of Mercedes and Porsche). We didn’t know exactly how we were going to get between the different points, but we knew where we wanted to go.
It’s always a worry when you develop something behind closed doors for so long – you never know what people are going to think, so we were really nervous when we launched a concept version of the Mono at the Retro Classics show in Germany in 2011. It clashed with Geneva, so we were only expecting a few friends and family, but there were about 1500 people there, and it got a mind blowing reaction from press, the public, and we made our first sale at that show.
After all the work behind the scenes for so many years, that moment felt like an ending, but we’ve learned that making the Mono has been like climbing a mountain with a series of false summits – there is always more to come when you think you have made it. Believe it or not we haven’t even been able to stand still and take stock long enough for me to create my own personal Mono yet. I know what I would like it to look like, though – it would be very close to the original inspiration behind Mono. That was partly the 1999 Bjork video for ‘All Is Full Of Love’, which depicts the singer as a robot being assembled in a factory. I’d like to go down the lines of solid non-metallic colours and incorporate the Mono and BAC logos in a graphic form. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to build it before too long, but in a way I’m delighted we are too busy to be able to spare the time on the production line.
Even now (and especially now) we are striving constantly to improve the Mono, and our dad’s attention to detail on those motorsport expeditions all those years ago probably has a lot to do with that. Everything we do is intended to make the car, and BAC as a company, even better. We intend to continue that even as we expand into new markets around the world.
I’d love to be able to go back and tell those two small boys sat on a hand-made seat at Oulton Park that one day they would make a car that people will want to watch flying past at high speeds, and that would be sold in countries all over the world. They would have loved it.