I’ve always had a fascination with lightweight sports cars, particularly ones built in low volumes by lesser known car manufacturers. British car designer and engineer Lee Noble founded Noble in 1999. He has been engineering, building and racing his own cars for decades with a focus on lightweight cars with powerful engines. One of his cars really stands out for me and this is the Noble M12 GTO-3R.
When the Noble M12 GTO-3R was introduced in 2002, it reminded me a lot of the Lotus Esprit V8 with its low slung design and engine mounted in the middle. I loved the way the car looked from every angle and how it’s a real driver’s car with no ABS, traction control or stability control. The performance was stunning with the car using the 3.0 Litre V6 engine from a Ford Mondeo ST220 with the addition of two turbochargers to deliver 263kW of power and 475Nm of torque. The car also had a Quaife limited slip differential and Getrag 6 speed manual gearbox. Weight was kept to 1100kg thanks to glass fibre panels and a carbon fibre front splitter and rear wing. There was also no spare wheel or usable boot. The chassis and composite bodywork was manufactured in South Africa and shipped to the Noble factory in the UK for assembly and mechanical fitout. All of this weight saving and engineering resulted in a blistering 0-100 km/h time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 270 km/h.
Noble also created a brilliant handling car that featured front and rear double wishbone suspension with Bilstein adjustable coil-overs. AP Racing brake rotors were used and had the same diameter front and rear at 330mm with four spot calipers all round. Steering is described as razor sharp with a lot of feel through the hydraulic power-assisted rack and pinion system. Wheels are unique to the car and have a 10-spoke design, measuring 18×8.5 (front) and 18×10 (rear) and they are wrapped with sticky Bridgestone Potenza’s tyres.
The interior features one-piece leather race seats and there is an internal rollcage that’s trimmed in Alcantara. For a car of this nature, the Noble has been described as practical, even for taller drivers. It’s a shame that this car was never officially sold in Australia, but hopefully one day I can get behind the wheel of one.