Giles is the proud owner of a very rare beast indeed. Previously featured in our first ever installment of the Re:Fuel Mythbusters Series, you would be hard pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about cars than Giles. Noble’s are rare enough as it is but, as you’re about to see, his example is about as rare as it gets!
My current weekend pride and joy is a Noble M12 GTO 3R with a few minor upgrades!
I was keen to maintain the standard appearance of the car, but it’s had a number of necessary improvements and upgrades under the skin. Mainly radiators, header tanks, oil separators from Pro-Alloy, a new set of Gaz Mono-tube gas & fluid shocks and springs along with some carbon fibre parts ……..and oh yeah, a new upgraded engine!
My particular car is running a Noble M15 engine (google it) from the M15 car that never went into full production and was shelved. The benefits that come with the new Noble engine replacement is forged pistons and rods, an upgraded camshaft and a 50 BHP increase in power at standard turbo boost pressures.
The engine in a std 3R is a 3.0 litre Ford V6 with 2 Garret T25 turbo chargers bolted on, an intercooler and a bespoke map running on an MBE ECU. The turbo’s are small but, by working in tandem, give enough boost whilst allowing the engine and driving characteristics to feel almost naturally aspirated in many ways.
My car is now running 400Hp and 400 lb/ft of torque whilst only weighing 1050kg, so it provides 0-60 times of approximately 3.3 seconds and a top speed of around 180 mph. Match that performance to an analogue car with no traction control, no airbags and not even ABS brakes and it’s a real drivers car in every sense of the word.
Performance is only half the story though. The chassis designed by Lee Noble in his Leicestershire based HQ is nothing short of a masterpiece. Unit the Noble, I’d never driven a car with zero understeer and a balance that allows you to oversteer with the right pedal; or balance the throttle to generate significant lateral G-forces. Until you’ve been round Castle Combe in a Noble M12, you haven’t experienced anywhere near the limits of a car. I would describe it as a go-kart because it’s the only car I’ve ever been in that will cause your hips to hurt from the side of the seat, in the same way a go-kart does when you’re trying to win.
You don’t see many Nobles, as they didn’t make that many in the 4 years of production, there are thought to be approx. 165 of the 3R model manufactured in the UK. The whole range started with the M12 GTO 2.5 (the Mondeo engine!), then came the M12 GTO-3 3.0 litre then the M12 GTO 3R and finally the track biased version known as the M400. If you’ve seen my car, it’s one of only 5 3R models in Portofino blue, so I guess it’s quite unusual.
I realised I wanted an M12 GTO 3R when my 400Hp Mitsubishi Evo8MR was getting no attention at car meets compared to my friends Noble 3R and it was the only car I struggled to keep up with on fast twisty roads. I wanted something for the weekend, a car that might have compromises but was a theatrical event to take out of the garage. I needed something I could run through twisty B’roads but also tour down to Le Mans in as well.
My favourite things have to be the power, the handling and the looks. To me it has a whiff of Group ‘C’ Le-Mans car about its look, a dash of Ultima GTR styling (same designer) and the performance to beat supercars of the day.
Anyone looking to buy a Noble should find the best standard spec car they can. They range from a 2.5GTO to a 3.0GTO to the 3R and then M400. Each model will jump you up £6-£7k in price, but they were improved along the way and the resale is easier the further up the model range you go. They all drive extremely well and are fast as hell! The market is strong, and the values have risen slowly over the last 4 years, I would still say they are undervalued when you compare to a TVR Sagaris or equivalent 911 GT car.
Parts are not too expensive, Servicing dealership locations are rare, but you can run a Noble on £1000 a year quite easily if you buy the right one in the first place. The South West Lotus Centre are a registered Noble Service Specialist so if you are in the market for one give them a ring.
Something else I’d recommend, if you are in the market for a Noble, is join the Facebook owners’ group. They know pretty much every car that was ever made (as well as the history), and most owners are active within the group, even on an international level.
I run a local Facebook group with 275 members, we notify the group about approx. 50 car events a year and a number of us always attend, things like Re:Fuel, Sherbourne Castle, Wilton Wakeup, Silverstone Classic etc.
My main event is the bi-annual Le Mans Classic meeting in France, we head down in convoy, spend 4-5 days away and head back, a long weekend of beer and classic Le Mans cars from Group C 1980’s down to post war cars.
Locally, you’ll often see me on the A303 or blasting around mid-Devon in a group of cars!
And, of course, you’ll often see me at Re:Fuel (when normal service is resumed)
Thanks all, stay safe
Model: M12 GTO 3R
Engine: 3.0 Litre V6 twin turbo
BHP: 400 Hp & 400 lb/ft
Top Speed: 180 MPH+
0-62mph Time: 3.3 seconds
Weight: 1050kg dry
Additional Mods: New M15 engine, new radiator, header tank, shocks, springs, new ECU & map, alloy oli separator, carbon fibre body parts