Diary

Latest Update : 21st December 2003







 

Miss fire Update : 14th December 2003
Looks like it was breather cable - miss fire not noticeable now. I'll get the factory to check it over when it goes back for its power upgrade.

Goodwood Track Day : 13th December 2003
Free track day with Bookatrack at Goodwood. Pictures and some video up soon. Absolutely tipping it down all day, and one of the Caterhams lost an oil pipe and dumped oil all over Woodcote making it very dangerous. Session called to a halt about an hour and a half early as it was just too dangerous to carry on. Very well run by Bookatrack, nice mix of cars, and definitely the right call about stopping the session. I'll be using them again in the future. 

Interestingly upon chatting to an owner of a seriously modified Celica we found that one of the breather pipes had come loose from the top of the crank. Wonder if that is the cause of the miss fire?

Click the picture on the right for a larger view of what was wrong (the jubilee clip that held it on was taken off by that point, you can see how the pipe has frayed at the bottom meaning it can "slip through" the jubilee clip.

Engine service - no to start stretching it's legs : 12th December
Car serviced within the hour at the factory. Started to notice a small miss fire around 2200-2400rpm and at 3000rpm in very high gears. Will contact the factory later and find if they added a new map - very strange as it was fine on the way up to the factory.

Running In Again : 16th November - 12th December
Running the car in again is killing me! It's so frustrating. 

Noble Owners Track Day : Rockingham : 17th October
Very enjoyable track day at Rockingham. Factory loaned me one of their 2.5l cars as mine was still at the factory, and I got to try Lee Noble's M400 track day "special" out.

Full report here.

Problem with my car diagnosed to fuel starvation - engine being fixed.

Discussions with Factory : 13th October
Factory agree to pick up car tomorrow - we wait their prognosis.

Brunters VMAX III : 12th October 2003
Another VMAX day at Bruntingthorpe organised by Craig. Serious engine problems. Car returned on flat bed trailer.

12000 mile service : 10th October 2003
12000 mile service done by Mole Valley. Usual high standard of work, and a lovely gleaming car when I went to pick it up.

Item Type Price
Carry Out 12000 mile service Labour 417.00
Supply & Fit 2 new wiper blades Labour 13.90
Spark Plug (Platinum) Parts 39.90
Oil Filter Parts 8.50
Mobil 1 x 4ltr can (2 off) Parts 61.00
Freshvent Screen Wash Parts 1.98
DOT 5.1 Brake Fluid 1Ltr Parts 10.80
Brake Cleaner / Degreaser Parts 3.85
K&N Air Filter Service Kit Parts 10.98
MT75 Gear Oil (2 off) Parts 11.50
Drive Belt - Air Con Parts 23.45
Drive Belt - Water Pump Parts 16.44
Environmental Waste Disposal Charge Service Charge 3.50
Consumables Parts 5.00
19" Wiper Blade (Bosch) Parts 10.50
20" Wiper Blade (Bosch) Parts 9.21
Parts Sub Total   216.61
VAT   113.31
Total   £760.82

£760 for a 12000 mile service seems very reasonable.

TomTom Optimax Overlay : 5th October 2003
You can find a TomTom Navigator Overlay file for Shell Optimax petrol stations in the UK here. Download and place the two files into your GB map directory and when you restart you should find an overlay called "Optimax Shell". A quick "Navigate to POI" and selection of the Optimax Shell overlay will give you distances to your nearest Shell Optimax station.

Email any changes / additions / deletions direct to me at joust@easynet.co.uk. No warranty is implied or provided about the accuracy of the file, but it has been checked as much as I can.

Dream Number Plate!

Ever since small child I have had the nickname "Joust" from the fact that I could spend hours and hours on the "Joust" arcade game as a kid. Legend has it that one day I spent from 8am to 8pm on a single 10p game!

I've always tried to find out what happened to the number plate that would represent JOUST (JOU 5T). Putting it into many search engines but it came up that it was either issued or not issued (no-one seemed to agree).

Darren from PH emailed me about a month ago saying that JOU5T was coming up at the next DVLA classic number plate auction. I purchased the catalogue and then submitted a written bid. On Thursday 25th September I checked the website and found that the number had been sold for under my written maximum - so the number plate was mine!

Just have to wait around 4 weeks for the paperwork to come from DVLA before I can put it on the car.

External Antenna : 27th September 2003
Spent 3 hours trying to work out how to get an antenna wire from the stereo to the rear of the car, as I wanted to put a "whip" antenna on the back. Despite working out how to take most of the car apart, it seems impossible without dropping the bottom of the car to gain access to the main tunnel.

Gave up and will ask Mole Valley if they can do it at the 1000 mile service - wonder how much they will want to charge??

Tescos Insurance : 27th September 2003
As the car had been at the factory I didn't need to renew my insurance that was due to be renewed on the 13th. I rung Tesco's up on the 20th and took the same policy out, confirming it needed to be started on the 20th. Imagine my surprise when the certificate comes in the post stating that it started on the 13th.

Upon ringing them up a week later to point out their mistake they then tried to blackmail me into accepting it as the price apparently included a "renewal discount" and that the price "might" go up if they canceled it and started again (of course they couldn't tell you if it would go until they had cancelled the previous one). To cap it all they then wanted to charge me for the extra week if I cancelled it, despite earlier in the conversation saying I could cancel without charge up to 14 days into the policy (talk about a bunch of clueless operatives...)

So - to be blunt I told them where to stick it.

Written a snoto-gram to their complaints department canceling the policy, and took out a new policy with Direct Line (which ironically underwrite Tescos insurance anyway) - and guess what? The price was identical give or take a few pence (so much for it "going up" if I didn't just swallow the additional weeks charge).

Tesco Insurance - steer clear of them.

Car Returned : 20th September 2003
Car returned back. Engine has been rebuilt, and so now another 1000 miles of running in - ARRGGHH! Still, there have been quite a few upgrades since the car went back in - there is a new fan assembly on the front (small children should beware - this is a serious set of fans compared to the old system) to assist in the hot weather running, and there seems to be a new engine map that has removed some of the issues low down in the rev range.

Cooling system is massively upgraded

Noble Engine Problems 009.jpg
Cooling system before - fans directly attached to radiator, one "high throughput"

V0000007.JPGV0000008.JPG
Cooling system after - New fax "box" with two high performance fans attached. Small children should not walk in front of the car now when they switch on. Fans are very noisy, and give an appreciable "blast" of air out of the top of the air vent. Temperature has never managed to get above ~95-98 degrees with this new system - and fans cool the engine back down to 90 in a matter of 10's of seconds.

Renewed insurance with Tesco's.

More Engine Problems : 9th August 2003
Picked the car back up from the factory. Apparently a turbo had let go, and so it had been replaced. Unfortunately, on the trip back from the factory the engine started smoking again, and burnt a load of oil. Myself and Nick woke up early on the Sunday for Pie and Ride III, but after stopping for some petrol and causing a huge smoke cloud when I restarted the car we abandoned it.

It seems the overheating is getting quite serious as the oil cap has melted

Noble Engine Problems 020.jpg

This is despite the upgrading of one of the fans to something much larger (on the right hand side)

Noble Engine Problems 009.jpg

Letter written to the factory.

Autocar / Noble Track Day - Bedford Autodrome : 30th July 2003
Previous one was so much fun, I decided with a friend (And) to go to the next one. Andy took up his S2000, and my Noble was to be delivered on the day direct from the factory (finally having had the overheating sorted).

Suffice to say Mr. Sod was applying his law with copious amounts that day. With the factory trailer van breaking down (dodgy battery, and then the alternator not charging), Tony C from the factory then finding a puncture in the nearside rear tyre, and having to repair it, then driving the car down and hitting a traffic jam on the M1 the car was about an hour late for the start!

Had a couple of trips around the track with the car feeling excellent, and the brakes feeling very sorted (strange the the "woolliness" of the first half inch had totally gone, but the factory hadn't touched them), but the car was seriously over boosting to 1.5bar+ (eekk!).

Tony from the factory had a play but couldn't stop it doing it, so it's gone back to the factory to be checked out. Initial diagnosis was a stuck wastegate, which is just one of those things with a turbo car. Should be back soon though :)

Had good fun at the day and an excellent trip in the S2000 with doing a 360 spin on the last but one corner :) Video still needs to come off the camera.

Another excellent day.

New Number Plate
Purchased a new number plate for the Noble - GT02 OOM - re-spaced gives "GTO ZOOM" :)

Bit of fun!

Overheating - update
The factory have had a good look and found the problem. I've yet to get the car back in my hands to see what has been done but as soon as I do I'll post up the differences.

Goodwood Festival of Speed - 13th July 2003
Spent the Sunday at Goodwood having a great day watching the Festival of Speed. Didn't see any other Nobles in the car park, and the GTO-3R stopped halfway up the hill (turns out that the clutch manufacturer sent the wrong parts to Noble and they quickly fail). The Marcos TS500 sounded absolutely lovely going up the hill.

Excellent day, if somewhat too hot and we were covered in dust and much by the end of it all!

Video coming off the camcorder soon.

Overheating - July 2003
After the Autocar day I kept a keen eye on the temperature gauge and found that it was wandering over 100 consistently when in traffic on hot days. The car has never overheated, but the previous engine used to sit at 90 and never move, so something clearly wasn't right.

It went into Mole Valley where they couldn't really find anything wrong (and for an oil change after the track day). However, about a week later the car wouldn't restart after stopping off for a nature break at the top of Crystal Palace hill, I suspect because the heat soak got to the ECU/Immobiliser and they "shut it down". A call to Nick got the X5 brought out to give it a tow - but given I couldn't see anything around/above the X5 it was all a bit scary being towed above 20mph, especially as the brakes without the engine assistance are a bit "firm".

As suspected, after about 3 miles of being towed the car had cooled down enough and was happy to be started. Back into Mole Valley it went.

A large amount of discussion went on between the factory and Mole Valley, with the result that the factory wanted it dropped back into them so they could investigate fully (and there had been some general comments on the owners mailing list about the issue). so I dropped it off to them on 18th July.

Apart from the once at the top of Crystal Palace hill, the car hasn't "overheated", just that the temperature is very strange in that it wanders all over the place (from around 82 on a motorway to 105 in traffic - see below) - all very weird.

Noble Temps 001.jpg

Some investigation with a temperature probe found the radiator at 100 degrees - not a good sign.

Noble Temps 008.jpg

PistonFest - July 28th/29th 2003
The first annual PistonHeads festival was held in Stratford Upon Avon. Lots of cars, lots of drag racing, lots of fun.

Pictures available here.

Video available here (25Mb Low Quality).

Autocar / Noble Track Day - Bedford Autodrome : 4th June 2003
Excellent afternoon at Bedford at the Autocar / Noble track day. Had the video mounted in the car and so have some excellent video of hooning it around the track. High quality video (212Mb!) is available here, low quality (20Mb) is available here.

Car behaved itself well, with only a slight overheating issue to contend with. As Noble were there they looked over the car and plugged into the ECU and didn't think anything was too amiss, so I'll get Mole Valley to check it over soon.

Excellent day.

Car Back from the factory : 24th May 2003
The car is back. Breakdown in costs are

Limited Slip Diff £655.50
Diff Bearings (5 speed) £35.65
Engine Oil 5W-40 £8.99
Engine Oil 5W-40 £26.90
Gear Oil £26.90
Exhaust Assembly £1166.45
Lambda Sensor £65.14
Turbo upgrade kit £180.00
Modified Track Day Sump £450.00
Manifold to head gasket £6.32
Labour (34 hours @ £60/hour) £2040.00
VAT (pesky taxman) £844.49
Total £5670.12

The car is noticeably quicker, and the handling is much improved.

Engine
The engine feels very very different. Upon initial take-up when cold, the engine is much more hesitant than the previous one, but as soon as the temperature gauge gets to around 40-50 degrees things start to smooth out - guess that I'll just have to do the normal 2-3 minutes idle before leaving, so no real issue there.
On the road, once warm, and with a few hundred miles of gentle motorway traffic under its belt, I decided to start to stretch its legs (fortunately the new engine had been run in already for me, and so Tony said there was no need to do any formal running in, just to build things up slowly).

Pushing half throttle down on the motorway causes a very strange sensation, with the turbo whizzing around to 0.9-1.0 bar boost for a second or so and then settling back down to the 0.5-0.6 range as normal. The effect of this is to provide much better take-up of the engine - you no longer feel any lag of any sort - a much improved scenario.

Waiting until I came off a long motorway jaunt down the M25/M4, I decided to try a few full throttle actions to see what the difference was. Ensuring the road ahead was nice and clear, a full throttle shove in third saw the turbo's winding up to 0.9-1.0 bar and then staying there! Yes - this is no "over boost" system, this is a full on 0.9ish bar turbo engined car now. The launch is truly unbelievable - it is so much stronger in pulling than the previous engine (and that was hardly slow....). A few more tries of this showed that it was no fluke - just prod the loud pedal full on for super turbo launch mode!

A by product of the upgrade seems to be the initial overboost up to 0.9 smoothes out the turbo delivery at less than full throttle applications - which should make the car more tractable in the wet.

Hot starting seems to be just as problematical as before - still it seems to catch eventually and I am sure I'll get used to it.

This engine now shows up even more that 1st gear is way too short for the engine. 6 speed gearbox next on the list then (once the bank balance has recovered!).

Finally, on the down run, the car seems to like "popping and banging" a considerable amount - could be a symptom of the new exhaust as well. It started to worry me (I thought something had fallen off the first time it did it) at first, but once I worked out what it was I've now got my own pop-bang Ur Quattro imitator!

LSD
Fortunately (or otherwise), it pissed it down with rain on the way down to Oxfordshire for a friends wedding, so I had a chance to start to find out how the LSD has improved things. In the dry the impression is one of a catapult slingshotting the car out the corner, and the removal of "tramping" over bumpy surfaces (where one wheel looses grip with the ground and starts to spin all the power away).

Taking the bride and groom out for a "spin" allowed me to explore the LSD a bit more. The ground was 50% wet and 50% dry - a scenario that used to upset the car a little bit, generating squirm and, if pushed, oversteer coming out of corners. Well - it's all gone. The ability to enter a corner and then nail the throttle on the way out without any hint of oversteer or loss of traction is truly amazing. A second by product now seems to be that on braking, you get significant assistance from the LSD at the rear. Owning a Quattro I know the benefit of not dumping the clutch when you brake, as if the car starts to lock all 4 wheels then it has two options, to transfer the braking power around to slow the car, or to stall the engine. It's this combination that makes the Quattro such a devastating rally drive in slippery conditions in that the car tends to take the slowing down route as stalling an engine is not an easy thing to do.

With the LSD it's now impossible to lock both wheels at the rear again without stalling the engine if you leave the clutch out - this means that in corners the car feels much more stable under braking at the rear assuming you are in a relatively low gear and keep your foot off the clutch.

Exhaust
At £1200+VAT this was one of my most extravagant upgrades, but the noise is just lovely. The rear of the car now looks much better. At low revs (2000) there is significant booming undertones, but after around 2500-5000 it starts to perform a "tubi style" howl. Pushing it right up through the rev range after the long bedding in motorway run gave a lovely howling note all the way up to the 6000ish rpm mark.

Going through the odd tunnel gave a serious resonant sound through the open window - Mr TVR's watch out!! :)

However, on the motorway, at minimal throttle positions, the car seems much quieter that the old engine - the "booming" that could be provoked in the old exhaust seems to have all but gone. The tyre noise on the road surface is now the biggest problem for noise.

Track Day Sump
After the Noble Autocar day at Bedford on the 4th June I'll tell you if the engine lets go or not!

Summary
Was the cost worth it? Err - yes! Despite the rather large bill in total, the car is transformed from it's previous incarnation. I'll keep an eye on the cold running of the car to see if that's a problem. If you are looking for an upgrade for your car, then I'd suggest the LSD as the first starting place, then the turbo upgrade (if you have a 2.5) and then the exhaust given the cost of it (or perhaps fabricate your own if you are clever enough - me I'm just too lazy and always go for "factory" upgrades.

Car @ the factory : 29th April to 22nd May 2003
Post Bruntingthorpe the factory had a good look at the engine, and it was decided between us that the best approach would be to swap the whole engine for one of the latest 2.5l one. I did enquire about the cost of a 3.0l engine, but given the cost "started around £10,000 I decided to let that one go and wait for the GTC!

Being car 26, the early engines are not as "good" as the later 2.5's - the ECU on the new engine is much better, much "faster", has two lambda sensors and is overall a much better engine. I am hoping it will give me many more options for tuning the car going forward.

Speaking about the options with Tony C in the workshop, I got a little carried away with adding some more options to the car whilst the engine was being swapped. I decided on a limited slip diff, engine upgrade, new 3.0l style exhaust system and the modified track day sump.

Bruntingthorpe Day : 27th April 2003
A day spent hooning it down the main straight at Bruntingthorpe (see the Bruntingthorpe thread on Pistonheads.com).

Absolutely fantastic time (pictures are in the picture section) with getting a 161mph down the main straight - not bad for something with the aerodynamics of the Noble! Main comments are in the thread on Pistonheads.com

At the end of the day I was not very happy with how the car was behaving itself, so I called the RAC to have it trailered off to the factory. RAC had no problems coming and picking it up from Bruntingthorpe (but then I did just say "Bruntingthorpe Airfield" to them) - with them turning up in around and hour or so. Interestingly it seems that despite the factory being only about 10 miles away from Bruntingthorpe, they would charge me to store the car over night, but if I had it trailered all the way back home (some 160 miles), and then all the way back again the next day it wouldn't cost me a penny - so that's what I did!

The driver on the trip down was very interesting - not the cleverest person in the world if you "know what I mean" ;)

IOW Trip : 15th-19th April 2003
Trip down to the Isle of Wight. I had never been there before. Lots of bumps in the roads (the car grounded out the front splitter on one of them - but the splitter seems to be holding up well to the abuse it gets) but the south island road (A3055) is a very nice road with which to open the Noble up. The rest of the roads are a bit too windy to be confident of getting around people.

The car generated lots of interest, but I found that there is only a single garage just outside Newport that sells Super Unleaded on the island - you can find a map of where it is here.

Pictures are available in the pictures section.

New Sump Ready : 15th April 2003
Lee has let all owners know that the new sump is available. Mine is booked in to have the sump done and a few other "mods" (engine upgrade, new exhaust system etc.) for the 19th May - can't wait! 

TMS Day : 29th March 2003
TMS organised a TVR track day at Bruntingthorpe. I didn't take the car onto the track day parts due to the on-going sump problems (knowing my luck I'll blow the car up!), but was allowed to hoon the car down the straight at the end of the day. Achieved an indicated 147mph on the Road Angel GPS system that was confirmed by the timers at the end of the track. Up to 130 the car was very very fast, but became rather pedestrian after that - too much aerodynamic drag me thinks. However the mpg dropped to 14mpg just doing the straights, with half the miles being driving the car to the track, meaning an actual mpg on the track of around 8-9mpg!

Pictures again available in the picture section.

Warranty clarification news : 15th March 2003
Lee has emailed all users on the Noble Owners club saying that the factory has tested 3 solutions to the sump issue, but none have proved satisfactory. Lee has now gone, and significant expense, to outside companies to look at using a wet sump. Apparently all rally cars use wet sumps, so it can be solved by correct baffling of the sump.

We wait with baited breath as to the solution - I'm itching to get the car onto a track, but I'm not brave enough to risk it (one unfortunate person had the main bearing go on his car last weekend at Bedford...)

Finish off of 1000 mile service and few other things : 18th January 2003
Car's been in Mole Valley for the last week having the 1000 mile service parts finished off. Lots of things upgraded free of charge. Whilst it was in I got them to check the oil - they said it could do with changing so I got that done. New headrests were ordered as well which will hopefully make the car more comfortable for Nick, and I got the seat moved forward 4" so that Nick can reach the pedals!

Other things that were done were

Fitting of the Luggage Set
Replace one "stoned" headlamp
Fit the Philips +40% bulbs - makes things much better at night!
Fluid check

They also seem to have solved the "flat battery" problem - apparently the slipping alternator belt wasn't helping it - it seems to be fine now but I'll keep the battery conditioner on it anyway.

Total bill came to £1,218.00 inc. VAT - of which over £600 was the luggage set and headrests - so not that bad.

Warranty clarification news : 16th December 2002
PistonHeads have written up the warranty clarification letter in an article. It's great that Noble care so much about their customers that on a car that hasn't been tested for 3 years and millions of miles like "normal" cars, and that they are keeping an eye on the problems that customers are having and responding so well.

My car is booked in on the 10th Jan at Mole Valley for lots of other small remedial work that has arisen since my car was built. It seems that some pipes and belts have been changed as more experience is gained with the cars and there are a few small other things. It's amazing the lack of serious faults on such a small production run of cars.

Flying Visit to the Factory : 14th December 2002
On way back from Nottingham I popped into the factory. Met up with Lee Noble who is a terribly down to earth person. We discussed the GTC, the new 3R and the strength of the chassis in crash damage. Lee showed me some pictures on his PC of a car that had been crashed at >200km/h in South Africa effectively straight into a crash barrier. Whilst the bodywork and the wheels were a bit of a mess (one of the wheels was never found apparently) the core "passenger shell" had hardly any damage, and apart from a bit of bruising the occupants were fine.

Made me a lot happier about the strength of the car! Sorry - no pictures of the factory - didn't have a camera on me.

It was great to see where my car was "born" - and a load of the South African engineers were over as well assembling cars - it was great to talk to them about the cars as well. Everyone says that the new 3.0l engine has noticeable more "grunt" than my 2.5 and the power feels different - but they weren't sure how much faster the car was with the 3.0l engine in it.

Chatted about the warranty issue with Lee as well - his approach seems to be totally fair and pragmatic. I can't wait for the guidelines and the sump upgrade - should all be done in time for me to get out on the track in next years spring!

They also said they can move the seat forward about an 1" to help smaller drivers. Nick will be pleased as he can't really get comfortable even with the seat fully forward at the moment. I'll see if Mole Valley can do it - if not I'll take it up to the factory to get it done in the new year.

Track Day Warranty : 6th December - 13th December 2002
Received a letter via the owners club from the factory on the 6th saying that Noble had identified a potential issue with track days and the cars. Whilst it wasn't conclusive that the two cars with engine problems that Noble had replaced FOC were due to track days, Noble nether less were developing a specific sump for cars that wish to be tracked. However, the letter said the the factory wished to remind customers that track days were excluded from warranty cover.

I found this strange as after checking my documentation over the weekend I couldn't find any mention of this exclusion anywhere. During the week 9th-13th, there were a few threads on PistonHeads about this issue as well.

After feeling a bit aggrieved about not being told of this exclusion with the car, I wrote a letter to Lee Noble expressing my concern that by using a car that is marketed as a road car with great track day on a track day I would loose all my warranty.

After discussion with Lee at the factory it seems that there were two things that weren't clear.

1) My car, along with a few others, didn't have the correct service manual with the warranty T&C's in it. In those T&C's track days are clearly not covered - so it seems that people shouldn't really have been complaining too much anyway.

2) The factory until now has taken a case by case basis of problems that are a result of track days. In future, Lee is going to issue specific guidelines for people that wish to take the car onto the track, and there will be an upgrade to the sump to be doubly sure that if the guidelines are followed that there won't be any problems. Assuming the guidelines are followed and the sump upgrade is installed, Noble will provide warranty cover even for tracked cars. Seems this is an excellent result and one that other so called sport car manufacturers should follow!

For people interested - Lee's letter to all over the issue is available here.

Another Flat Battery : 6th December 2002Battery Charger/Conditioner
Not used the car for 13 days and again the battery is too flat to start the car.

Quick check on PistonHeads showed that perhaps the alarm and tracker would drain the battery - so ordered one of these fangled £50 battery conditioners from the TVR owners club. That will stop the problem but I'll get Mole Valley to check it out.

The charger is available in their on-line catalogue

Battery Chargers plus other misc products

New Tyre : 9th November 2002
After coming back from Norwich through the roadworks on the A12 I noticed a large wobble from the wheels. After stopping on the hard shoulder of the M25 I found a very flat rear tyre. I also noticed that the dust cap from the wheel had been nicked (bloddy kids - arrgghhhh!) so could have been the valve or tyre.

Having heard about the uselessness of the "gunk in a can" I was prepared for a long wait for the RAC to get me home. However, after reading the instructions, and using the can, the tyre seemed to be relativly hard - so I carried on to the next service station just before the Dartford tunnel.

After pumping the tyre up I took it for a quick spin - but there was still a large amount of wobble coming from the tyre, so I went around the roundabout and checked the tyre pressure again. It was fine at 27PSI so I took it slowly home.

Next morning I had to find a place that could either repair or replace the tyre without scratching up the wheels (the local Quick Fit totally shagged my X5 rims when they repaired a puncture in that). After finding RSR tyres (www.rsrtyres.co.uk) on the web (they are an alloy wheel dealer so I figured they would be careful) I took the Noble down to them.

Caused quite a commotion. After getting the rear of the car flipped up, it turned out the inside tyre wall had totally collapsed - buldging out everywhere! It looked quite scary and not at all safe. After quite a lot of looking, we managed to work out how to jack the car up (used a small piece of wood ontop of a flat jack under a point on the chassis at the rear where 3 of the chassis members meet) and replaced the tyre without scratching the alloy wheel at all - yippeee!

Went to see Mole Valley to see the new GTC that I've got on order - reminded them about the luggage set *again*

Flat Battery : 8th November 2002
The battery was flat when I went to start the car. Strange as it has only been standing for about 2 weeks. 30 minute charge and all was fine. Must get Mole Valley to check battery next time it goes in. Wonder if it running flat at the Motorshow has had a bad effect on the battery?

Motorshow - GTC now on order! : 24th October 2002
Drove the Noble up to the Motorshow and had a long weekend at a country hotel in Devon FOC due to winning it in a charity ball.

Went to the Motorshow - made a beeline for the Noble Stand, and within 20 minutes had ordered a GTC! Just seeing the car meant I had to have one - as it's exactly what I was after - something to replace the Elise with but with significantly more poke. Alan Wallace said that there were at least 6 people in front of me (dam dam dam) and I was there at 9:30am on the first public day!

Walked around the rest of the show (pictures in the "pictures" section....), some cute cars, some horrible looking ones. Got back to the car to find I had left the lights on (5 hours later) and had a flat battery. Fortunately managed to convince two lads walking by to give us a push (that's what the spoiler is for!) and everything was fine.

Horrible run down to Devon from Birmingham - the rain was chucking it down. Car felt stable considering how "skittish" some tightly sprung cars can feel. Blasts around Devon country lanes were good fun - shame it just rained so much!

Road Angel installed : 23rd October 2002Road Angel Pictures 005.jpg
Installed my Road Angel into the car. The mounting bracket they have supplied fits into the right hand side of the windscreen very nicely.

The thing that attracted me to it was that it had a unique "blackspot" indicator for areas that have had a high accident rate. Also, only warns you of cameras that are able of taking a picture in the direction you travel, and gives a "rapid" warning of beeps if you are accelerating towards a camera when you come into its range.

I mouted it to the screen (see picture) using the mounting bracket that sticks to the windscreen using two very good suckers and then you position it so it "rests" on your dashboard (rubber feet supplied to stop any scratching of the dash). The rubber feet weren't suitably big (I got one scratch on the dash) so I used a large laminate flooring "fuzzy foot" at the bottom. Once the bracket is installed, you stick the "super sticky" velcro onto the mount, and then mount the Road Angel onto that. After fixing mine it was quite hard to get the thing off!

In use the display is clear (so much so that I now use the Road Angle for speed checks rather than the car's speedo). Upon approaching a speed check or blackspot, the display turns from green to a very bright red, with an wide range of "beeps" configurable depending on the noise of your car. I'm now so used to noticing the red light I leave the beeps off all the time - the red light easily catches my eye where I have installed it.

Adding new locations is easy - just press the store button and then press menu to select the type of location you want stored, then press store again. The database seems very comprehensive, and any areas that you put in yourself don't get deleted when you update the unit - nice if you want to put your own areas in (i.e. you home, your friends home - or other). Deleting areas is also just as easy - giving a very flexible unit.

GPS locking is very very good. Having used many GPS devices, the cold start acquisition and re-capture after signal loss is excellent, as is the general reception despite not having an external antenna. I would imagine that the cold start is so good as it has an internal rechargable battery that keeps the "clock" running when not being used - locking onto satellites means you need to know which ones are in view - the Road Angel does that by maintain a clock even when in the garage/in doors, meaning getting a fix from "cold" takes around 10-15 seconds, rather than the more normal 2-5 minutes.

Other nice things are
1) Cigarette lighter plug has very "springy" springs on each side of the plug - meaning it won't fall out of the lighter socket
2) Power cable is straight 5m, not coiled, meaning fixing in was easy and everything could be made nice and tidy
GPS measured speed displayed constantly - I tend to use that as a speedo nowadays rather than the cars

The Manual was confusing - you need to register on-line to download the software - whereas manual mentions a CDROM - and there was no errata in the box. Also, the "Menu" button is in front of display, which means pressing it (which you do for 1 second to silence the beeps) means you can't therefore easily see what you have selected without removing your finger - would have been better to have it at the top middle, rather than bottom middle.
The muting of "beeps" takes about 1-2 second of pressing menu - a single quick press would have been better 

Overall - well worth the £379 I paid for it.

Slight dip in MPG : Sunday 20th October 2002      
Updated petrol costs. Slight dip in mpg between 6/10 - 13/10 - probably because I was getting it close to being run in and starting to stretch its legs 

Still waiting for the luggage set...... 

1000 mile service : Friday 27th September 2002
Long list of small things for Mole Valley to fix... 

Indicator tell tail light is very dim. [Apparently its a case of TADTS - but Noble are looking at a fix] 
Hand brake light not working [Fixed] 
Fuel gauge doesn't relate to the tank - 0 on gauge is 20l left [TADTS] 
Brake light doesn't come on until brake pedal is pressed hard [Fixed] 
Seat needs to be 1" more forward for Nick to comfortably drive it [Ongoing] 
Mirrors - don't adjust well [Not a lot they can do - fault with the Rover Items] 

Car needs to go back as it needs a few things more done that they couldn't do, and to have it's luggage set fixed in.

First 2 Days : Sunday 15th September 2002      
My thoughts of my first 2 whole days with the Noble. 

Overall impression
The car is *the* most amazing things I have every driven. I'm fortunate that in the course of many a "hospitality" day I have driven everything from Ferrari's, through Porsches, Clio Cup Sports, Integras, Exiges, S2000's, Integras etc. etc. and the odd "real" FPA / F3000 single seaters, owning Quattro's, Elises, fast BMW's etc, but nothing - that's nothing prepares you for the cacophony of acceleration, induction noise, wastegate dumps, that whilst, are in the true sense of the word, jarring and discourse, somehow once the gear leaver and the accelerator pedal are mastered transform into a pure symphony that you are the conductor of. 

The chassis is so well sorted, that the senses being driven through your rear arrive at the correct time to give the overall impression of flexibility and neutrality going to oversteer. Adding to the sensations is the perfectly weighted steering, comfort, and even a little bit of refinement (yes - refinement!) in the interior and road manners on the flat long “M” stuff that marks this car out from the normal pack. 

Despite me not being able to find out what the 4500-7000??? range is like in the low gears (running in - sob!) - what's available from 3-4 to 4.5ish is quite outstanding in 3rd, 4th and 5th. 

The "Wow - what the Fcuk is that" reactions from people outside means you feel like you are in a goldfish bowl around town - but the sheer delight and joy of the general public ("could you wait whilst I take a picture?” "top mote'r mate - what'll it do?", "err - what is it - nah don't tell me - Italian, err, German..... British? - Oh fantastic" are just some of the comments I have got). 

If you are shy and retiring - do NOT buy this car, as you will be averting your eyes from the gaze of the general public so often that you will almost certainly crash. 

Faults / Gripes
Kerbs are a problem - particularly if you need to get up them. The "take it at a 45 degree angle" works every time - but remember that going forward and backward are two different things - just because it went over it forward - do NOT assume that it will do the same coming backward. Fortunately the splitter is made so that the noise of it scraping is much much worse than the damage it's doing - meaning as long as you go at 1mph or so, you'll use the sound effects to work out if you are OK with any damage to the splitter itself. 

Handbrake 
Feels like it's just not going to work, and set a bit too near the gear stick, but when it's up "you aren't going anywhere Mr". Be careful on hill starts - it's easy to start "jumping" against the handbrake unless you get the take up of the engine coupled with releasing the handbrake working. Also, the handbrake light isn't working on mine - and so I'm paranoid that I've left it on. 

"tell" Lights 
The indicator one you can't see in the daytime, the handbrake one doesn't work. 

Gearshift 
2nd to 3rd is a knack. Forget trying to use this as a normal "slush" box - you have to be very very precise with the 2nd to 3rd change. You either get it right, miss it, or it'll jump straight back out of 3rd when the clutch comes up.... Practice makes perfect though. 5th to 4th isn't particularly nice either - but I'm sure I'll get used to it. 

Air Con 
Dam bloody effective, but going from cold to warm is a challenge that should be entered into the "Krypton Challenge". Cold or HOT is the order of the day - with HOT (that's HOT - not just plain old hot) being a mere 3 clicks around on the dial. Personally I've found leaving it on max cold, and just turning the air con part on and off (dead easy to do) gave the most satisfactory results. 

Also - the clicking of the air con coming on and off from the rear was a bit worrying when I was trying to park it in the garage - I thought it was the exhaust grounding out every time it when "ping" :-) 

View 
Couldn't see any cars until I removed the dealer’s sticker from the bottom middle of the window - much better now! 

Mirrors 
OK - I understand the reason to nick the mirrors off a Rover - but surely the adjusters could actually "stay" where they are put! Also - the mirrors are slightly too far "in" meaning that you can't look as wide as you would like. 

Front clam 1/4 turn screws 
More practice needed here to get the front clam tightened down me thinks - I still can't get the off side ones done first time. [Hint - always carry around a small Philips - the key ring one is useless and bent first time] 

Loves
I love the seats. 
Supportive and very comfortable, the only small gripe from the other 'alf is that they don't have headrests that you can rest your head on. However, given there needs to be space for a crash helmet that a minor point! 

The noise! 
Being brought up on Turbo cars, this is just totally the most wonderful symphony of whooshes and fizzes that is available today without resorting to class A drugs. Once you have found out how the waste gate works, you can start to create your own music with your right foot. My current favourite is to get the waste gates to dump twice - giving you a woooosssshhhhh, dump, whoos, dump, woosh , dump, woosh, dump. 
As for the "pushing on" noise between gears - I can't *wait* for the full effect at 7000rpm :-) 

The "point and squirt" 
Point it - it goes there 
Bit tight - the tail lifts slightly, the tyres chirp, small opposite lock (or maybe just a slight release of the throttle), carry on - no drama, get to end of corner - press on. 

Compared to this the Elise is an under steering nightmare that will either understeer, or, will want to place the rears where the front it. I never thought I would find a car that was better down B roads than my Elise - but this is it. Given this will easily take a corner 10mph more - and probably 15/20 more than I would dare to take the Elise round in - this is serious praise indeed. 

Even with my limited rev range, a Scooby just got "lost" on the twisties between Littleborne and Sandwich. Eventually the Scooby caught up and was smiling from ear to ear and was looking intently at the badge. 

"Winding in" people is also so much fun - no need to seriously break the speed limit - find a car on the "horizon", push on, and with a few, 10 at most, seconds you'll be lifting off again and gracefully coming to within a respectable distance of it's rear. 

Overall I am truly the most happiest I have been with any car. Never before has the combination of noise, acceleration, handling and sheering great refinement come together in such a devastating package! 

Vist my other site at www.chipmunk.org.uk for all irrelevant things in my life