Featured Listing – 2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R

2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R - Front Photo

British entrepreneur, automobile designer and engineer Lee Noble’s recipe for the ideal sports car started with three simple ingredients that proved massively effective. The first one was clearly the most important, and that was the lightweight skeleton. Next was the power plant, which would generally be a high-powered mill; something capable of powering a small town, preferably. Last but not least was to clothe the featherweight space frame in attractive but highly functional bodywork. Already credited with such epic designs as the Ascari Ecosse and the Ultima Mk1, 2 and 3 (which the TAG-McLaren group famously used as test mules for their mighty F1 road car), Mr. Noble’s recipe would be one that is remarkably simple, but shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Not long after getting involved with Ascari, the maker of exclusive and extremely expensive supercars, Noble realized that he was interested in producing a type of sports car that would appeal to the masses. He wanted to make a car with a more reasonable price tag, but also one that wouldn’t lose the exhilarating performance that enthusiasts had come to expect from him.

This new car would wear branding from a new company with Lee’s namesake called Noble Automotive, and the car itself would be dubbed the ‘M10’. Its roots were fantastically basic. The first two of these lightweight, two seat convertibles were constructed in Noble’s own home garage and would be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder Ford Zetec engine. Eventually, though, the M10 would gain Ford’s 2.5-liter Duratec V-6, an engine that would carry over to the next Noble, the M12 GTO.

With the M12 GTO and the eventual GTO 3 and 3R, there were a host of new refinements and innovations, mostly aimed at making the car a more comfortable, but more serious sports car. Interior quality would improve substantially, trading some of its cloth and Alcantara for high quality leather, among other refinements. Along with this, these latest M12 GTOs were now making over 350 Hp, over twice the output of M10, the car of which it was originally based on. Wearing a couple of oil-cooled, Garrett turbochargers, the “3” and “3R” grew from a 2.5 to 3.0L V6. Given the car’s newfound power, it should come as no surprise that the Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox and available Quaife torque biasing, limited-slip differential were both very welcome additions to this package. This Noble finally had the ability to cope with all of its power, and for a car weighing little more than a ton, it was immense power, indeed.

2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R - Clamshell Bodywork Open

This striking example, a 2004 M12 GTO-3R, is finished in Steel Gray Pearl, a shade used on the Dodge Viper not long ago. The exterior contrasts nicely with the ivory interior, and neither show any significant sign of wear. Showing only 13,537 miles, this example has benefitted from a life of extensive development and sorting, unlike so many of the 220 Nobles that made their way stateside. Having enjoyed significant improvements in cooling, safety, reliability and performance, the result is a highly refined machine that’s just as happy on the racetrack as it is sitting in traffic. For reference and preservation, however, original parts and equipment have been retained and are included in the sale. It should also be noted that this example, chassis # 0074, is a later production version that is adorned with several noteworthy updates such as an improved front chassis that offers better turning radius, as well as a removable chassis member in the engine compartment for ease of service. In short, it’s the Noble for those of us that want to drive.

Noble M12 GTO-3R Chassis Number NUS0074

  • Steel Gray Pearl exterior.
  • Ivory leather interior with Black carpeting.
  • Quaife Torque-Biasing LSD.
  • Air Conditioning.
  • Willans 4-point race harness & 3-point safety belts.

(Note: All developmental upgrades were performed per the recommendation of marque expert Hoover Chan, who is directly associated with Lee Noble Design North America).

Engine and Cooling:

  • Noble ECU Re-flashed to suit engine modifications.
  • Replaced factory exhaust with 3” diameter, stainless-steel unit for less restriction and added power. The noise produced harkens back to something from the Group-B era, but is still tame enough for road use.
  • Exhaust is wrapped to help reduce engine compartment temperatures.
  • Replaced original intercooler with larger unit to aid in cooling and prevent heat soak with increased boost pressures.
  • Replaced standard spark plugs with properly gapped, NGK ‘TR6’ examples, necessary for power upgrade.
  • Replaced standard fuel injectors with the necessary injectors for power upgrade.
  • Fitted Rossion (Formerly 1G Racing) extra capacity, baffled oil pan to prevent oil starvation under demanding conditions and to aid in engine cooling.
  • Removed the Ford water/oil cooler from engine block and replaced with Hoover Chan’s thermostatically controlled oil cooler, located at front of the car, for much improved cooling during demanding conditions.
  • Fitted restrictors to turbocharger oil feed lines to prevent oil from pushing past turbocharger seals.
  • Removed restricting air deflector from side vents and added Hoover Chan’s aluminum air deflector for better cooling to engine compartment, particularly the A/C compressor, alternator and front turbocharger.
  • Replaced troubled Noble, steel oil separator with aluminum, Moroso oil catch can.
  • Blitz pop-off valve installed by original builder to reduce wear on turbocharger and engine.

Suspension, Brakes and Safety:

  • Added upgraded front wheel axle spindles and Porsche lock nuts. This is a necessary upgrade to protect the front wheel bearings. Rear hub lock nuts also converted to Porsche style.
  • Ride height set to a useful specification, alignment and corner balancing performed.
  • Completed necessary Fuel Pump and Wiring harness upgrade.
  • Fitted HID/Xenon lighting to Low and High beam headlights.
  • Fitted LED combination turn signal and running lamps for better visibility.
  • Added roll cage protection padding to interior roll bar where deemed prudent.
  • Replaced standard horn with self-contained air horn.
  • Brake fluid flushed regularly, replaced with high performance ATE Superblue brake fluid.
  • Replaced standard brake pads with CarboTech XP8 high performance pads.
  • Fitted Optima Red-Top dry cell battery

Aesthetics, Ease of Use:

  • Troubled Carbon-fiber rear spoiler has been professionally repainted in exterior color. (Included and not installed during photography)
  • Rear diffuser and grill removed for ease of service. (Included)
  • Very rare windshield wiper shroud included (Included and not installed during photography)
  • Spare set of forged, HRE lightweight modular wheels available for $3,000.

Overall Vehicle Condition

Exterior: This M12 GTO-3R has never suffered any damage and shows like new from nearly every angle. The welcome use of invisible bra has protected most of the vulnerable areas from paint chips, and helped keep the original paint in fine order. With minimal evidence of wear, this Noble shows very nicely.

Interior: Crawl inside and the interior is a welcome surprise. The leather surfaces all unscathed and just as supple as new. The condition of the quilted Alcantara roof lining and discreet, Alcantara wrapped safety roll bar are in perfect order. All interior componentry functions like it should.

Mechanical: Chassis 0074 has enjoyed a life not limited to street use, but with occasional track use, where its thorough sorting has really paid off. This track use has provided an excellent opportunity for solving any weaknesses and further developing the original car. With mature ownership and a preventative approach on maintenance, this car needs nothing. This Noble now drives like it should have when sold new, and shows no signs of leaks or evidence of necessary maintenance.

Registration and Titling: This vehicle was previously purchased in North Carolina, and is currently registered in NC with its current seller. The title reads “Reconstructed”, which is NC-DMV jargon for a “Custom Built Vehicle” like this Noble is registered. (Click the link for more details)

Asking Price: There is a very active Noble owner’s network that is committed to improving this model, and specialists that have now mastered any teething issues associated with these low-production automobiles. Chassis 0074 is available today for $52,000.

The 2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R is available for inspection at our garage in Charlotte, NC. Click Here If Interested.

2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R – Photo Gallery

2004 Noble M12 GTO-3R – Fifth Gear Review

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