Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
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A chronological day-by-day history of Noble.
Driving a three-wheeled steam carriage, the Earl of Caithness, accompanied by his wife and the Reverend William Ross, set out on a 146-mile journey over the mountainous terrain from Inverness to Barrogill Castle (now the Castle of Mey), near Thurso, Scotland. The stoker was the carriage builder Thomas Rickett. The 2-cylinder engine with a 3.5-inch bore x 7-inch stroke, drove the offside rear wheel by a spur gear drive. The boiler pressure was 150 psi. The following article about this epic joruney was published in The Illustrated London News in September 1860: Commentary from the Illustrated London News Some time back we gave an illustration of a steam-camage which was driven from Buckingham to Windsor Castle. The accompanying Engraving represents a similar one, built for the Earl of Caithness, with which his Lordship, accompanied by Lady Caithness, the Rev. W. Ross, and Mr. Rickett, “travelled north;” in fact, drove from Inverness to Barrogell Castle, a distance of 150 miles, virtually in two days, and which is considered the boldest and most difficult enterprise recorded in the annals of road locomotion. A trial trip to a point 150 miles ahead, with a full load of passengers and luggage, over some of the most mountainous districts of Scotland, the party for the most part unacquainted with the route, and the supplies of coal and water therefore uncertain; sometimes ascending hills of 1 in 7, towering up to a splendid sea view, and again descending the winding roads cut in the hill sides, crossing the mountain gorges at an acute angle by a narrow bridge, down an unprotected gallery of rocks, without the slightest accident or danger, certainly speaks well for the noble conductor, and also for the inventor of the carriage. It is stated that his Lordship travelled the first stage from Inverness to Beauly, a distance of fourteen miles, in one hour and twenty minutes, notwithstanding frequent stoppages for horses and once for water. After leaving Beauly, on those parts of the road where some distance forward could be seen, he attained a speed of eighteen miles an hour, and could have kept, it up for any distance with ease and safety. He drove up the hills without difficulty, and, proceeding down the very steep declivity near where the road joins the other from Tain, the control his Lordship had over it was most satisfactory, and enabled him to descend at any rate he pleased with perfect case and safety. On the Monday he started from Golspie at an early hour, numbers assembling to see if it would manage the steep ascent leading to Dunrobin Castle; but, as usual, drove right on, amidst hearty cheers, to the town of Helmsdale, about fifteen miles, when, on stopping for water, egress from the carriage was almost impossible from the crowd of Gaelic fishermen assembled. The town is situated at the foot of “the Ord of Caithness,” a noted mountain, which, it was said, would bring the engine to a stand if anything could; and oft was the cry repeated, “Ye’ll ne’er get o’er the Ord!” The ascent commences immediately on leaving the town with an incline of about 1 in 10, and continues for five miles frequently 1 in 7. Winding up the precipitous route, the deep, strong, but regular beat of the engine told that, though severely taxed, the task was not more than it could manage, and without once stopping or flagging it reached the summit, when the party congratulated themselves on the crisis of the enterprise being so satisfactorily passed. For the descent into Berridale Glen his Lordship had provided a special drag, but found that; with the party walking down, the ordinary screw-breaks were quite sufficient to keep it perfectly under control. At Wick, about seventeen miles from his Lordship's residence, the arrival of the carriage was anxiously expected. Horsemen went out to meet it, and the firing of cannon announced its approach. The whole town appeared to have turned out, for the streets were thronged; and, being situated a hundred miles and more from any railway, steam on the highroads was hailed with emthusiam. Hia Lordship stopped more than an hour for refreshment, and then, amid the gathering shades of night, drove on to Barrogell; but the nights are not dark in that treeless county, and his Lordship drove as merrily as by daylight to within a few miles of John o’ Groats. These carriages are designed by Mr. Rickett to carry three persons at ten miles per hour on any ordinary roads, which they appear satisfactorily to accomplish. They require about the same space as a horse and chaise, carry sufficient water for ten to fifteen miles, and coal for thiity miles, weigh thirty cwt., and are well mounted on springs, the only noise being that of the escaping steam, which can be stopped instantly when horses appear frightened. The arrangement is such that the carriage and the engine are distinct, and the duties pertaining to each divided. The fireman keeps up the supply of power by attention to the fire and water, while the person occupying the front right-hand seat turns it on as he thinks proper, having absolute control in the use of the steam and in guiding the carriage.
Rickett's steam carriage, 1860Show Article
At the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, American Gary Gabelich attained a record 622.407 mph average speed in the Blue Flame, a rocket-powered four-wheeled vehicle. Momentarily achieving 650mph, Gabelich's vehicle was powered by a liquid natural gas, hydrogen peroxide rocket engine that produced a thrust of up to 22,000 pounds. Gabelich's achievement ended the domination of Craig Breedlove, the American driver who set a series of astounding victories in jet-powered vehicles during the 1960s, breaking the 400 mph, 500 mph, and 600 mph barriers in 1963, 1964, and 1965, respectively. The Blue Flame's land-speed record stood until 1983, when Briton Richard Noble raced to a new record in his jet-powered Thrust 2 vehicle. The Thrust 2, a 17,000-pound jet-powered Rolls-Royce Avon 302 designed by John Ackroyd, reached a record 633.468 mph over the one-mile course in Nevada's stark Black Rock Desert.
Blue FlameShow Article
Richard Noble in his 17,000 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Avon 302 jet powered Thrust II achieved a speed of 263.92 mph at Greenham Common, Berkshire – the highest land speed attained in Great Britain.
Thrust IIShow Article
After nearly 20 years of domination by Americans, Briton Richard Noble raced to a new one-mile land-speed record in his jet-powered Thrust 2 vehicle. The Thrust 2, a 17,000-pound jet-powered Rolls-Royce Avon 302 designed by John Ackroyd, reached a record 633.468 mph over the one-mile course in Nevada's stark Black Rock Desert, breaking the 631.367 mph speed record achieved by Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame in 1970. Previous to Gary Gabelich there was Craig Breedlove, the American driver who recorded a series of astounding victories in jet-powered vehicles during the 1960s, breaking the 400 mph, 500 mph, and 600 mph barriers in 1963, 1964, and 1965, respectively.
Thrust 2Show Article
Welsh snooker star Mark Williams severely damaged his £50,000 Noble M12 GTO with its personalised CUE 1 number plate on an icy road and crashed into roadside bushes south Wales.
Noble M12Show Article
The £75,000 mid-engined Noble M14 was unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show in the West Midlands. It had 400 bhp (298 kW; 406 PS) at 6,100 rpm from a highly modified version of Ford's 3.0 litre (2,968 cc) V6 using a six-speed manual transmission and twin turbochargers. The engine developed 385 ft·lbf (522 N·m) of torque at 4,750 rpm. It was planned to have a power-to-weight ratio of 363 bhp (271 kW) per ton, and to get to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.3 seconds with a maximum speed of 190 mph (310 km/h). Noble expected it to compete with cars like the upcoming Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari F430. Following the debut of the vehicle Lee Noble the creator of the car decided that it was insufficiently advanced over the current range of Noble cars to justify its price tag. Noble transferred development to a new car the Noble M15, a pre-production prototype of which was presented in 2007 (and shown on TV's Top Gear) but never launched. Noble is now believed to be working on two updated replacements - the M600 and the M15C (see Autocar magazine, 20 October 2007).
Noble M14Show Article