Noble M12/M400 – 2003

There must be something to be said for a car that munches Porsche 911 turbos for lunch and can come close to showing a Lamborghini a clean pair of exhausts — and the ‘something’ is this . . . the Noble M12 is magnificent. Maker Lee Noble is a master at setting up a winning chassis and specializes in racecars and high-performance road cars with no pretensions to luxurious GT status.

The M12 was an uncompromising two-door, two-seater coupe that went through four evolutions in its short life — the GT03, GTO 3R, GTO 3R (6) and M400. A 3 litre turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 was mounted on a steel chassis with full roll cage and a GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) body. This was styled along classic coupe lines, with a plunging front end between sculpted wings, terminating in air scoops and a spoiler, a low cabin with a large curved windscreen, side air scoops and a blunt rear end with a sexy upcurve and raised spoiler.

M12s offered few creature comforts and no storage space. This serious driving machine put performance above posing, with no traction control or ABS to rescue a novice from a tight spot — though the roll cage and race harness might save the day. Bucket seats are supportive and there is ample cabin space. The finish is leather and there’s adequate soundproofing, but this is not a car for everyday use. Transmission is a crisp five-speed manual box and the ride quality is firm but not uncomfortable, even at track speeds.

The M400 is a racing evolution of the M12 with a more powerful Ford V6, enhanced shocks, stiffer springs, front roll bar and special Pirelli tyres. This may be an outstanding racer, but it’s also street-legal and perfectly amenable to a little sure-footed roadwork.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

2003 (until 2007)

ENGINE:

2,967 cc V6 Twin Turbo

PERFORMANCE:

M400 — top speed of 185 mph (298 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 2.97 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Even as Noble Automotive develops the new M15 and its racing equivalent, the M600, the M12/M400 line lives on, manufacturing rights having been sold to American outfit IG Racing/Rossion Automotive, who produce their own luxury version of the M400, the Rossion Q1.

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