Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S03 ep1 : Peter Boutwood, Nobel Cars, [England]
Interview with Peter Boutwood
For some time, NOBLE owner Peter Dyson noted that the cars in his collection giving the most enjoyable and rewarding driving experience, tended to be the 'earlier' models, none of which featured computer assistance. The later supercar offerings just did not reward the driver in quite the same way. Thus, the Noble M600 was born....
Noble in ethos I suppose is you know the gap between the very electronic assisted cars to a more
purer driving sensation, a more rewarding, we think more rewarding because everything is done
you put your input into it.
We don’t consider ourselves competition to Ferrari or Maclaren or Porsche, it’s that our ethos is
totally different, you know what we want is a very analogue experience.
The Noble was known before under the stewardship of Leigh Noble in the UK in Leicestershire
and the cars then were sort of glass fibre, sort of very affordable small super cars.
My background is racing driving and design and I used to be involved in F1 with Damon Hill.
When he retired I did more and more design work. I used to liveries for Formula 1 cars and a lot of
design work, logo work. I did that and then I was asked by an American company to do a LaMonde
car called American LaMonde car. The company was owned by a man called Rob Dyson, and it
was called Dyson Racing, and I did a livery, he really liked it, and I did some merchandise for him
and he really loved it and then he said his brother was coming across who is interested in cars and I
did some work with him and then one day his brother came across, whose name is Peter Dyson,
and said I’m going to see Noble, I knew he had a Noble car in America so I just assumed he was
going to look at a car and then he came back and said well I bought the company.
My credentials are ideal really, although I’d never designed cars before I was an ex-racing driver
and I was involved in design so hence we have the M600.
The previous Nobles were built in South Africa, not in Britain and what we wanted to do was do a
real English sportscar supercar.
The M600 is totally hand built in Leicestershire and in total there are 15 of us the whole company
and that’s why we’re very proud that people mention us in the same breath as Maclaren and you
know Ferrari and you know we’re always being tested against them and sometimes beating them,
depending on the test. We’ve certainly beaten them on the lap times that’s for sure, but
interestingly all 15 members of the team, including the secretaries, are on the kickplates of the car,
all their names, everyone’s there, because it’s a team effort, it’s not about me.
He is an avid car collector. He owned an F40 and, a Ferrari F40, and the Ferrari F40 was really his
ultimate car if you like. It’s the ethos of it and the way it drove and the reward it gave so he said
wouldn’t it be great if we could do a modern F40.
I don’t think you can buy a supercar, well probably maybe one, but most of them are paddle shift.
Paddle shift’s great but basically it’s an automatic you know so there’s something very tactile and
rewarding about a stick shift.
The gearbox was built for us by Gratziano who make for Ferrari and Lamborghini and they’ve
done a brilliant job, it’s a very, very beautiful gearbox and I think they were quite pleased to do a
manual rather than a paddle shift.
Ultimately it’s about the reward it gives, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this sensation but you go
round you know a fast lap on the track with a more digital car and you’re never sure you know,
was that me or was that the car, with this car it is you. Whatever you put in is what comes out.
It’s not a difficult car to drive, it’s a very difficult car to drive on the limit because there’s nothing
to save you, there’s no safety net. Whereas other cars when you’re driving them on the limit will
say no, you’re not going to do that, but this, says ok you want to do that, I wouldn’t advise it but
off you go.
The thing is about building anything is having an open mind and we thought you know let’s look
for a really lightweight, low centre of gravity engine that’s not used by anyone else and basically
the only car it was used under to my knowledge was the Volvo V8 four wheel drive where they
have it in a different configuration and we thought look at that engine, it’s so beautifully built you
know Yamaha build a beautiful engine, so we took that and it did take a good, nearly two years to
develop it so it gave the power we wanted in the way we wanted. Obviously with a car like this,
which only weighs under 1200 kgs now you put that against a Vayron, it’s almost half and its got
plus 650 brake horsepower. We’ve got on board we, you can switch it down to 450, 550 and 650. If
you switch it down to 450 it also affects the throttle response so it all becomes much easier to
The reason people use electronic and digital assistance in cars mainly because to aid the chassis,
now we don’t work that way, what we do is when we’re developing the car which we did, we
didn’t use any electronic devices at all. The way the car handles is the weight distribution you
know this car on the road is not bumpy or hard, you know hard ride doesn’t equate to a quick car.
Most people think it does and you go into these hot hatches and they bounce you around, this is a
very comfortable car. It’s because we can get the weight distribution just right. Now the reason we
can get it just right is that we have a very light engine, very short engine and a very low centre of
gravity engine. It’s actually in the middle of the car basically so you know and that’s where you
We have traction control but the traction is absolutely amazing. The power to weight ratio is
greater than Vayron, that’s not to say in a straight line it will beat a Vayron because that’s not what
it’s about and besides it hasn’t got an electronic shift, it hasn’t got launch control, it hasn’t got any
of those things. It is a very purist car.
The great asset of a small company is that it’s a personal thing you know you can come to the
factory literally any interior you want, any colour you want, that’s no extra charge.
People often say well supercars look a bit generic, but they have to because basically you’re given
a list of must haves okay, first must have is air in, next must have is air out so when you have a
turbo, you need air in for the intercoolers so that means you’ve got those inputs at the side, and
then air off the engine so basically if you can imagine everyone’s given the same bit they have to
put the same bit in if you
Now we’ve taken a slightly different route to most manufacturers that we don’t have any rear wing
at all. We use a rear diffuser which sort of uses a vacuum to suck the car onto the track rather than
Apart from this car we have two, one other demonstrator and one hack that’s sort of been around
and now we’re just building the first customer cars. We’ve only 15 and basically eight people
building the cars, we can only make one a month at the moment and demand is outstripping our
supply but we’re hoping to double our output to 24 cars a year!
The most response we’ll get is that people because of the performance assume it’s a racing car and
it’s not, it’s very definitely a road car. It was made for the road not the track but it’s so let’s say
adequate round the track that people make an assumption that it’s a track car.
When we say the price, two hundred and thirty thousand, it sounds so expensive but actually you
know on that we don’t make a profit, with 12 cars a year. That’s our break even, we sell 24 cars a
year yes we will but this is a very expensive car to build.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Peter Boutwood, Noble Cars, England