“We grew up in Widnes,” explains Neill, sitting in the boardroom of the impressive Liverpool HQ that the company has occupied since 2013, just down the road from Halewood, where Jaguar Land Rover makes 4500 cars a day. “Our father loved cars and racing, so we went to a lot of race meetings at Oulton Park and watched the RAC Rally from stages around Chester.
“When we finished school, Ian went off to Coventry [University] to study car design with the likes of Steve Mattin [Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Lada] and David Woodhouse [Lincoln, Ford] while I took the aeronautics route. That proved way too specific, so I changed to mechanical engineering, and that’s broadly been the way we split our work now: Ian does design and manufacturing, while my job tends to be making sure the promise of the design is delivered in the way the Mono drives.”
While Ian was designing boats in California and then working for big-name companies in Stuttgart and Crewe, Neill did a final college year at Reynard, then joined Land Rover, and then Ford in time to take part in the development of the Focus ST. After that, he worked on the first Focus RS, signing off every one of the first 200 RSs to emerge from Ford’s Saarlouis plant. And all the while, the concept for a special supercar was growing in the creators’ heads.
“We watched the major companies like Aston Martin and McLaren and how their cars were used,” says Neill. “We knew we’d have to innovate to find our niche, because we’d never win a war against those guys.”
The brothers owned some influential cars (two Lotus Elises among them) and Neill also found time for a GT racing career, but they began to focus more and more on the idea of a car that had race car efficiency and agility built in, looked as good and worked as well on the road as it did on the track.
“We kept going back to the single-seater idea,” says Neill. “In the beginning, we visualised a kind of road-going Formula Ford, although it was more than that by the time it started taking shape on our dining room table, three miles from Oulton Park. By 2008, there were five of us working on the project in CAD, all in other jobs and separate places, but we’d show our week’s work to one another on Friday afternoons.” What they finished up with was a roadable mid-engined single-seater with a steel spaceframe and classy composite body.