"Perfection is a road, not a destination"
|Founder||Lee Noble in Leeds|
|Peter Boutwood – managing director|
Noble Automotive Ltd, more commonly known simply as Noble, is a British sports car manufacturer
It was established in 1999 by Lee Noble in Leeds, West Yorkshire, for producing high-speed sports cars with a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. Lee Noble was the chief designer and owner of Noble. He sold the company in August 2006. He resigned from the company in February 2008 and announced his new venture, Fenix Automotive in 2009. The company has since moved to larger premises at Meridian Business Park near Leicester.
Noble is a low-production British sports car company, its past products include the M12 GTO, M12 GTO-3, M12 GTO-3R and Noble M400. The M12 GTO-3R and M400 share chassis and body, but have minor differences in engines and suspensions. The M15 has a new space frame chassis. The body and chassis of the Noble is built by Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, South Africa alongside Superformance cars. Once the body shell is completed, it is sent to the Noble factory where the engines, transmissions, etc. are added.
In 2009 Noble released the M600, a car which takes Noble into hyper-car territory. With 650BHP available from its purpose built 4.4-litre V8 Yamaha twin turbocharged engine, the carbon fibre, light weight bodied car is aimed firmly at the established Ferrari/Porsche brands. Deliveries to customers are expected mid-2010. The retail price is GBP 200,000.
Only 220 Noble GTO-3Rs and M400s were imported to the US. They are the only Nobles available to the American market. The US distribution rights to the M12s and M400s were sold in February 2007 to 1G Racing from Ohio. Due to high demand of these cars, 1G released its own copy, named Rossion Q1.
Noble M10 (1999–2000)
The Noble M10 is a two-door, two seater model built in convertible form only. It is powered by a naturally aspirated (i.e., no forced induction) 2.5-litre engine. It was introduced in 1999, but is no longer in production, having been replaced by the M12. Only a few were ever made, as customers moved deposits onto the M12 as soon as its credentials were announced.
Noble M12 (2000–2008)
Like the Noble M10, the Noble M12 is a two-door, two-seater model, originally planned both as a coupe and as a convertible. All M12s have been powered by specially tuned turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engines.
The M12 has a full steel roll cage, steel frame, and G.R.P. (fibre glass) composite clam shell body parts. These cars are extremely lightweight and stiff. Although looks to be track derived, the M12 performs very well on both road and track, with surprisingly good ride quality, but a rigid feel. The coupe evolved through four (4) variants, with the M400 being the ultimate version of the M12, followed by the GTO-3R.
Noble M12 GTO 2.5L bi-turbo 310 bhp (231 kW)
Noble M12 GTO-3 3.0L bi-turbo 352 bhp (262 kW).
Noble M12 GTO-3R 3.0L bi-turbo 352 bhp (262 kW).
0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 3.7 seconds was published in the official brochure of the M12 GTO-3R, Road and Track indicated a 0–60 mph performance of 3.3 seconds, but subsequently listed it as 3.5 seconds. Its top speed is listed as 170 mph. Lateral Gs are reported in excess of 1.2. Noble enthusiasts often modify their cars for even greater performance. It is widely believed that just 165 M12 GTO 3-R models were made in the UK upon the owners findings on such sites as pistonheads.com and even fewer were made for the GTO-3 and GTO versions.
The M400 is the track variant of the M12. Its power-to-weight ratio is over 400 bhp per ton, and is the figure from which its model name derives. It has 425 bhp (317 kW; 431 PS) and has been reported to do 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in as little as 2.97 seconds. Car and Driver (March 2007) achieved a 0–60 mph time of 3.3 seconds and a 0–100 mph time of 7.52 seconds. Although often listed as 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, the M400 generally comes in at 3.2 seconds according to various publications and generally listed amongst the fastest accelerative cars. Noble indicates only that the car is capable of achieving 0–60 mph in under 4 seconds. Its top speed is listed as 185 mph (300 km/h). A top speed of 202 mph (325 km/h) has been achieved by Noble's former press officer. Lateral Gs are reported in excess of 1.2. It has both a 3-point seatbelt and a 5-point harness.
The most notable differences from the M12 are the use of forged pistons, T28 turbos, a front anti-roll bar, stiffer springs, different shocks, Pirelli P Zero tyres, a smoother gear shifter, and a slightly narrower central tunnel as the driver now sits a bit more central than previous models. Exterior differences remain subtle. The colour scheme tends to incorporate anthracite (Gris) wheels, rear wing supports and wing ends but some examples maintain silver wheels and supports. The front splitter is now removed (Although many owners opt to have this put on). The main change is the addition of side pods to enhance air into the system and to create a visual impact. Air conditioning is now an £1,995 option and adds to the weight. The interior has an added oil gauge that resides next to the boost one. Additionally the sparco alcantara seats and finishings differ to the other Noble's (Alcantara is one third the weight of leather). The Noble M400 won the car of the year award in 2005 for one publication. The M400 is designed to be an outstanding track car that is also pleasant to drive on the road. With just 75 examples made (UK/Europe) this version is sought after and rare.
The Noble M14 debuted at the 2004 British Motor Show and generated significant interest in the motoring press. It was planned to compete with the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari F430. It was based on the chassis of the M12, with only minor modifications. It had a new body and a more up market interior. Following the debut of the car Lee Noble decided that the car was insufficiently different from the M12/M400 to justify the price increase despite having taken a number of deposits. Noble instead developed a brand new car, the M15, developing further from the M12 and M14, although the cars have few common components.
Production of the M15 was planned to begin in early 2006, but has not taken place. The Noble M15 was intended to appeal to a far broader market and compete directly with the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari F430. As a result, the Noble M15 was expected to have a number of features not previously found on Nobles such as satnav, traction control, electric windows and ABS. The company issued a press release about the M15, stating that the M15 will be produced after the introduction of the M600. The M15 of the future will be different than the car shown in 2006.
Despite increased comfort and usability compared to previous Noble cars press releases stated that Noble expected the M15 to be significantly quicker than the M400 around a race track. It is able to accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 3.3 seconds and has a top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h).
The car was based on a brand new platform with a longitudinally mounted engine connected to a bespoke gearbox created by Graziano. The double wishbone suspension is a development of the system mounted on the M400. Mounting the engine longitudinally allowed the designer to increase cooling flow to the engine which allows the 3.0L twin turbo V6 to produce 455 bhp (339 kW; 461 PS). The engine was designed to meet emissions regulations and the new steel/aluminium space frame was designed with a view to passing crash test regulations around the world. The M15 was planned to be the first Noble to gain European and US Type Approval.
According to founder Lee Noble, "I wanted to produce a supercar people could use every day. It was time for Noble to take a big step up in terms of refinement, practicality and style."
The M15 appeared in Top Gear and presenter Richard Hammond was very impressed. It was a lot quicker around the Top Gear track than the old Noble. According to Richard this has to do with the new, stronger gearbox which enables Noble to allow more boost and let the same engine produce more power. The Stig managed a lap time of 1:22.5 which is currently 50th on the power lap board.
In 2010, Noble began sales production of the M600. It has a Volvo twin-turbocharged V8 engine (producing 650 bhp (485 kW; 659 PS)), a carbon fibre body shell, and a 6-speed gear box, made by Yamaha. It competes in the same category as the Ferrari F430. The 2,800-pound (1,300 kg) M600 can accelerate from 0–62.1 mph (100 km/h) in 3.5 seconds and requires only another 4 seconds to achieve 100 mph (160 km/h). It has over 1G of grip on the skid pad. The brake discs in the Noble M600 are steel. The Noble comes with no ABS or ASM and TC as those features will be optional, making the Noble M600 a pure driver's car. The British supercar will cost around £300,000 when it is launched, and only 50 will be made annually.
Noble publicly tested an M600 prototype 2 in the USA, comparing its performance with a Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo. This prototype was detuned to 500 bhp (373 kW; 507 PS).
The Noble was also featured on the fifth episode of the 14th series of Top Gear, in which Jeremy Clarkson complained of its lack of features but was astonished by its power and acceleration. The Noble posted a time of 1:17.7 around the Top Gear test track with The Stig behind the wheel on a cold winter day, and despite the conditions the M600 was the eighth-fastest behind the Ariel Atom 500, the McLaren MP4-12C, the Lamborghini Aventador, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, the Gumpert Apollo, the Ascari A10 and the Koenigsegg CCX. It beat the Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron and the Pagani Zonda Roadster F in lap times around the Top Gear test track.
The M600 was featured again in Top Gear in a challenge to drive from Lecce, Italy to Rome. The M600 was driven by Richard Hammond while Jeremy Clarkson drove the Lamborghini Aventador and James May drove the McLaren MP4-12C. Along the way, the trio stopped at the Nardò Ring to test the driver's willingness to push their respective vehicles to their limits while in a perpetual corner. Following the track test, they continued on their way to Rome when Hammond experienced clutch trouble in the Noble and had to have the car towed to a garage to replace the clutch and disassemble and rebuild the gearbox. Hammond eventually rejoined his co-presenters and continued on with the rest of the challenge, albeit in a noticeably different M600 provided by Noble, the vehicle was right-hand drive and painted black whereas the vehicle Hammond began the challenge with was a left-hand drive car painted red like the Aventador and the MP4-12C.
In 2012, the M600 was reviewed in Top Gear (U.S. TV series), in the last episode of the 2nd season, there Tanner Foust travels to England to test the new Noble M600. They introduce the segment saying: "Noble has not yet determined the top speed of the M600 and Tanner is tasked with determining the top speed of the vehicle". He races a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera and an Audi R8 in half-mile drag race. The M600 comes in first, beating the Superleggera in second and the R8 in third. Tanner then takes the M600 to an American Air Force base to determine the maximum top speed. Tanner drove the M600 to 215 mph. Tanner gives a generally favorable review of the M600. He praises the car for its large power to weight ratio and calls it "...one of the purest driving experiences around," due to its lack of driver aids. At the conclusion of his review, Tanner states, "The M600 has proven itself to be a member of the supercar elite."
In the motoring show Fifth Gear (Series 17), Jason Plato drove the car up to 330 km/h (205 mph).
On a video test of the YouTube channel DRIVE, Chris Harris (in which he also drove the Ariel Atom) drove it to over 205 mph (almost 330 km/h) on the Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring circuit.
According to UK enthusiast website ATFULLCHAT the management at Noble Automotive have not ignored the possibility of building an M600 roadster. On 21 June 2012 the website published a rendering of an M600 drophead that was commissioned internally by Noble Automotive, although company MD Peter Boutwood is quoted as stating there are no plans at present to produce such a machine.