It’s 7:30am on the Isle of Man. It’s so cold, the snot in my nose has frozen solid, I’ve lost all feeling in my toes and icy rain water is leaking into my trousers.
My mood should be lifted by the sight of the BAC Mono in front of me, but instead it fills me with dread. I’m about to set off in what amounts to a racing car with zero electronic aids on roads that are so wet they may as well be lined with banana skins.
I’m here because I want to feel what it’s like to ride the TT course, to cling precariously to a superbike nudging 200mph through villages as onlookers cheer me on. I haven’t taken my full bike test, so the Mono, in my eyes a superbike on four wheels, is the next best thing.
Experiencing that rush isn’t exactly easy. It’s not, I discover, a car one simply hops into and drives. You need to spend a good three or four minutes viewing it from every angle first, soaking up the outrageous design. The latticework of rear suspension components converges on a central exhaust that looks like an afterburner. The front wheelarches flare so dramatically I imagine even Aston Martin’s design team might be a little jealous.
It’s utterly beautiful. If Batman only had a CBT, he’d drive one of these.
Getting in is, being frank, slightly tedious. There are no doors here, just a tiny opening you clamber into. I’m forced to remove the steering wheel, like an actual F1 driver, before pouring myself clumsily onto the rock-solid carbon-fibre seat. The driving position is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You don’t sit in a Mono, you lie in it, looking down your own nose at a steering wheel littered with buttons and switches.
The Mono fires up with spite and idles at a volume that makes conversation impossible. Passers-by mouth words in my direction, but I can’t hear a thing. At first I shrug or point my fingers towards my ears whenever anyone attempts to speak to me. Eventually, I decide there’s no point trying, and tune out the world.
“The Mono has a power-to-weight ratio similar to a P1″
This latest version packs yet more power than the last. BAC has ditched the 2.3-litre Cosworth-tuned four- cylinder engine in favour of a Mountune-fettled 2.5-litre Ford Duratorq engine. Power has jumped from 280bhp to 305bhp, which gives the 580kg Mono a power-to-weight ratio comparable to a McLaren P1.
The numbers are impressive: 0-62mph in 2.8secs and 170mph flat out. Ordinarily, I’d be smiling at the prospect of unleashing every single additional horsepower, but in this weather those aren’t numbers to be impressed by, they’re to be feared.
There’s a sense of looming inevitability as I reach the Isle of Man’s derestricted roads. I feed in some power, and that new engine sends powerful vibrations through my entire body. I feel like I’ve sat on a washing machine on spin cycle – a washing machine on spin cycle that’s hurtling through the air at breakneck speed.
Accelerate hard, and there’s a certain inevitability about the rear wheels lighting up. I find myself short-shifting into second, third and even fourth, and each new damp patch excites the rear to the point it feels as if it wants to snap around completely. I spend several minutes of the drive trying to figure out whether yet more rain water has seeped into my trousers, or if I’ve had a slightly different accident.
Once I’m confident enough in the grip levels, I press on. Above 70mph, falling raindrops feel like razor-sharp tacks piercing my face. The body of a flying insect explodes so violently against my cheek I think for a moment someone’s thrown a rock at me.