Noble Sports Cars
Brooklands Road Test Portfolio, compilé par Tony Beadle et RM Clarke, 160 pages 21 x 28 cm, couverture souple, texte anglais.
A self-taught engineer from Leicestershire, Lee Noble began building high-performance sports and racing cars back in 1983, starting out with the Ultima. Constructed in a workshop at his parents’ house the first Ultima proved to be very successful, Noble driving it to championship wins and selling over 150 cars as a result.
A couple of replica models followed – one of a Ferrari P4 and another of a Lotus 23 (called the Noble 23) - and these also sold reasonably well. Next there came another original design, the radical and lightweight Midtec powered by a highly tuned four-cylinder Ford Pinto engine. Soon after sales reached double figures Noble received an offer that was too good to turn down and so the Midtec project passed to a new owner.
Lee Noble then took an ambitious step and, having disposed of all his previous assets to raise funds, invested everything in the Chevrolet V8 powered Ascari. Aiming to market the Ascari in America, initially Noble was making good progress on his own and then he was approached by a person who apparently had the capability to provide the extra finances needed to make the breakthrough. Unfortunately, despite some early race wins, sales of the road-going Ascari were slow due to the high cost of using a BMW V8 in place of the Chevy which increased the price to an unacceptable level. Eventually, in 1996 the partnership was dissolved and Noble had to start afresh.
The outcome of all this was a mid-engined prototype which was built in the garage at Noble's home. The concept evolved into the Noble M10 and, powered by a Ford V6 engine, the car was generally given a warm reception for its exemplary handling and performance by the motoring press on its introduction in 1999. However, despite earning praise for its roadholding, the M10’s styling and quality of finish did receive some criticism.
These misgivings were answered in full the following year by its successor, the M12, the model that immediately established the Noble marque as a serious contender. With its vastly improved body styling and a twin-turbo Ford V6 coupled to the superb chassis the Noble M12 GTO rightfully earned plaudits from all those who drove one. Uprated versions came along on a regular basis – M12 GTO-3 and M12 GTO-3R - but in 2004 the model designation was changed to M400 even though the car itself was still basically just a much revamped M12.
To the accompaniment of loud and prolonged fanfares, the Noble M14 was unveiled at the 2004 British Motor Show. Regrettably, for a variety of reasons this model never made it into production. A similar fate befell the M15 which appeared a couple of years later and it soon became evident that there were internal problems brewing at Noble Automotive. In February 2007 the design and manufacturing rights to the M12/M400 were sold to 1g Racing of Hamilton, Ohio, USA, and once again Lee Noble found himself in a conflict with corporate investors over company policy. At the beginning of 2008 he left the organisation.
The latest episode in the Noble saga saw the launch of the M600 in October 2009 with the Leicester-based company also promising that an updated M15/C would appear in the near future. Around the same time Lee Noble was announcing his latest venture - the Fenix - and the story of high performance cars to be associated with the name Noble is obviously far from over.
Launched in 1999, the Noble M10 high-performance sports car was the brainchild of talented design engineer, Lee Noble. It was the iconic M12 which earned the rave reviews and established Noble as a maker of handsome, ultra-fast and affordable cars. This book is a compilation of road & comparison tests, technical & performance data plus an invaluable buyers guide. Models covered: M10, M12 GTO, M12GTO-3, M12 GTO-3R, M400, M14, M15 & M600. A total of 160 fully illustrated pages. SB.