If a Porsche is too plebeian for you, a Lotus too languid, if even a Modena is too mundane, then Nice Price or Crack Pipe has a Noble idea that's just for you. That exclusivity comes at a price, however.

The voting on yesterday's Caterham HPC was tighter than the ass-pinching seats that car carried. In the end its rabidity and the engine's vauxhallitosis proved too much, as did the price, resulting in a narrow 51% Crack Pipe loss. Do yourself a favor, when you're out at TGI Fridays or Hooters tonight, order the spicy wings instead of the mild, and eat 'em all yourself really fast. And then, when you're driving home, stick your head out of the window on the freeway for a mile or so, and floor it. That'll give you an idea of what that Caterham would be like, and that way the next time we have a car with a similar power to weight ratio the price likely won't matter as much.

Well, that opportunity probably won't arise for some time as today we have a. . . oh, ruh-roh raggy.


Okay, this 2004 Noble M12 GTO 3-R is powered by a twin turbo version of Ford's 3.0-litre Duratec V6. That engine, as well as the 6-speed and Qualife torque-biasing LSD rest in the middle of the 2,380 lb steel-tube frame and GRP body car. Helped by those two turbos, the DOHC six spits out a healthy 352-bhp at 6,200 RPM. In case you weren't keeping track, that puts the power to weight ratio of the Noble in almost exactly the same place as yesterday's Caterham. And this in a car with roll-up windows, A/C and a much higher occupant survivability quotient should it hit a bicycle messenger or carelessly discarded paper bag.

Despite that inherent high level of safety, this car is ass-blisteringly fast, with sixty available from a standstill in under 3.8 seconds. In that amount of time you'll hardly have a chance to marvel at all the be-spoke hardware the interior affords. If your fetishes extend to two-tone leather and brushed aluminum, then the Noble's cabin will make you as happy as a gimp in a box. The polished shift knob rises from atop the tall but narrow center tunnel, and fronts a center stack topped by three climate control knobs of an indefinite origin. Below those and some ancillary lights and buttons is strangely what appears to be an emergency stop button from an Otis elevator. Four-point harnesses help make you one with the thin-shell fiberglass seat, and the airbag-less Momo wheel allows an unfettered view of the minimalist gauge cluster ahead.

The view rearward, however, is typical super car slim and the under hood view is equally unrewarding. The Noble eschews form for function so you won't find swathes of carbon fiber or hand milled dipstick rings in there, just the business-like Ford V6 and enough turbo plumbing to keep it from suffering an asthma attack. Another item that doesn't fall immediately to eye is a B.A.R. sticker, however the car is carrying Golden State plates, and is being offered by a dealer, so it's assumed that title transfer won't play out like a greek tragedy.

The production figures for the Noble brand are sketchy at best, but it looks like there were a total of about 240 M12 GTO 3-Rs and the follow up M400 built. The later cars have 76 more horsepower and are lighter by a couple of hundred pounds, owing to the lack of A/C. As the cabin would probably become stifling no matter how fast it went, I think I'd go with the M12 instead, Sonata tail lights or not.

And since these things are rarer than a chicken's chompers this M12 GTO 3-R will just have to do. But will that $59,900 price tag do as well? The number of Nobles presently on the market here in the states can pretty much be counted on the fingers of one hand, and of that the Ohio M400 appears to be hinkey. Not only that but a new Rossion (the company that bought the rights to the M12/400) will go for six figures- if you can find one.

So does this $59,900 M12 seem like a bargain exotic? Or, is that an ignoble price for a car as noble as this?

You decide!

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