Noble M12: the local superhero revisited at 20 Car News

The automotive world is full of characters: talented, competent and professional people often at their peak. Catch them when launching a new product and their appearance and dialogue will be very polished, often handled by public relations and do credit to the company that employs them.

So, when in 1999 a rather disheveled guy called Lee Noble arrived at Autocar’s offices, driving what appeared to be a rather cheap and cheerful open-top kit car called the M10, we were skeptical. With some reluctance, the road test team gave the car a try – and the following week this magazine proclaimed it “one of the most complete and exciting British mid-engined two-seater that we have ever had.” have piloted ”.

This marked the beginning of the Noble phenomenon. Four years later, I drove an M12 – the faster and more complete successor to the M10 – for the first time, and among the hundreds of cars I have tested since then, none have sparked memories for me as well. powerful, even though I drove exactly my last. 15 years ago.

However, at the time I missed the first version of the M12, the GTO, and it was this model that gave rise to this story, as 2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of the delivery of the number one to one car. customer. This is also the time when Noble really became a force to be reckoned with – not just in low-volume sports car circles, but against true supercar royalty as well.

First, let’s get back to why the M12 made so much noise in 2001. For starters, the market was ripe for such a car. Think of mid-size sports cars with a reasonable degree of everyday use and a BHP figure in the mid-300s and you’d be looking at either the Lotus Esprit then in its death throes or the Porsche 911 of the 996 series. .

With praise for the M10 in the bag, Noble quickly exploited this market gap, and with its experience in fast-turnaround engineering projects, the M12 emerged in two years from the company’s new premises. in Barwell, Leicestershire. Using the same Ford-based mechanics as the M10 – the relatively new and highly adjustable Duratec V6 – and essentially the same steel chassis, the M12 added two turbochargers, nearly doubling the power to 310 hp, and an enclosed body made of fiberglass. two-door glass. who looked more like a refugee from a circuit. What about the cost? Indecently competitive £ 44,950.

Much of the M12’s commercial success stemmed from a deep-rooted pragmatism about how many sales it took to make the car viable and establishing a realistic nomenclature for each unit. For this reason, Noble has outsourced the manufacture of the M12 bodywork and rolling chassis to small volume experts Hi-Tech Automotive, based in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), South Africa.

This left Noble’s workforce in Leicestershire to install the powertrain and handle final assembly. It was a repeatable and efficient method that led us to recognize Noble with our Manufacturer of the Year award in 2001, stating, “Perhaps Lee’s greatest achievement has been taking 160 orders and transforming. his outfit in this rarest breed: a small British sports car manufacturer. “

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This notice was published: 2021-04-17 05:01:24