Noble M12: the ultimate budget British supercar?

Not faultless or for everyone – but an all-time hero in the business of extracting maximum bang for your buck

By Cam Tait / Saturday, 4 March 2023 / Loading comments

Welcome, everyone, to the noughties guide for building a supercar on a shoestring budget. First, you’ll need some glass fibre. You can make any shape you like with the stuff and it’s much cheaper than any of that carbon fibre nonsense. Next, you need weld some steel together in the shape of a spaceframe chassis and, finally, find an engine to drop in the middle of it. No need to make your own, that’s a fool’s errand. Instead, you can simply pinch one from something cheap and cheerful like, say, a Ford Mondeo. Follow those steps to a tee, get yourself a whizz at chassis tuning and with a dash of luck you should end up with something that looks a bit like this: a Noble M12.

It’s an incredibly simple formula, but a mighty effective one. The standard M12 packed the same 2.5-litre V6 engine as the Mondeo ST200, with a couple of turbochargers slapped on it – resulting in that signature Darth Vader sound. The revised GTO-3 we have here upped the displacement to 3.0 litres and, with it, a power hike from 314hp to 357hp. Hardly gargantuan numbers by today’s standards, but with a kerbweight of just 1,050kg and, apparently, functional aerodynamics, the M12 is able to deliver endless levels of grip without flinching.

That sort of performance does, of course, come at the expense of luxury. A quilted headliner and an Alcantara-wrapped roll cage is about as plush as it gets, and there’s the usual mix of Halfords bits such as the Fast and Furious-style Momo steering wheel. But none of that really matters. The M12’s cabin is all business, and throwing in creature comforts would only weigh it down. Remarkably, the M12 is surprisingly cushy for a stripped-out plastic supercar. Noble did without anti-roll bars on all but the hardcore M400 model, allowing the M12 to ride gracefully over pimply British B roads, rather than crashing over them. It’s surprisingly civilised.

It helps that the owner of this particular car has gone to great lengths to up the rolling refinement, fitting beefier engine mounts and a bigger power steering cooler, all in the name of ironing out some of the, er, quirks low-volume British supercars are famous for. It’s currently up for sale with Hilton and Moss – which has looked after the car for the two previous owners – for £49,995. The dealer says the previous owner upgraded the car in a way that it could be driven to a track day, lapped endlessly and driven home without running into problems. Just the right amount, in other words. 

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