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Shorts 'Nobel'

Car made in Newtownards

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YOUR RESPONSES

Edwin Bird - Aug '08
I had one of these cars in the early 1970s , a dark green colour. I can confirm every thing that I have read here, especially about the brakes and the self ejecting exhuast pipe. I would like to add that the wiper in this model was less than reliable, and it leaked rather bad. What a little gem! Happy days!

Mike Ayriss - July '08
I am the archivist for the Nobel Register, the Register is not a club and it does have membership but we do endeavour to record all known cars and bring together information to help owners with restoration of these special vehicles.
We have at this time in excess of 70 cars recorded throughout the world and actively seek your help to record even more.
I would be very pleased to make contact with any former car owners with information, photographs and stories. I would be even more pleased if I could make contact with any employees from the factory.
Mike Ayriss

Mrs H. Laurie - June '08
M y husband owned a Nobel car in 1969, we had many happy years in it until the kids got to big for the back seat. I have a lovely photo of the car - black and white, will put it on internet if anyone interested?

Derth Decker - May '08
Interesting stuff. Anybody who knows what happened to York Nobel? The manufacturer/license holder?

Keith Wagstaff - Feb '08
I have owned a Nobel 200 "A model" for 14 years , and ran the Nobel register for about six years.
I started restoring it in the mid nineties, but sadly after stripping the engine, it was found to be beyond repair, after five years of fruitless searching for a replacement all the restored parts were boxed up and stored away.
I hope to restore it in the future and still take great interest in the Nobel, I am interested in any photographs both old and new and collect reg and chassis numbers of surviving vehicles.

Vikki Holt - Mar '07
Farnborogh, Hampshire....
My mother used to own a car like this, when I think back the sound comes to mind.... Bang..put, put, put...
The 3 stroke engine, loved this little car. Wish I had one myself.
I now live in Canada, just happened across this while looking for something on the internet.
Thanks for the memory

Ken Watson - Feb '07
Marvellous to see this after all these years!
In 1965 I bought one of these from my cousin for £20-00. He trailed it from Leicester to Warwick , about twenty miles ,for the price of a gallon of petrol.
It came with a box of bits, and the address of a chap who had some spares. I needed two pairs of front brake shoes and a pair of steering king-pin bushes, which he still had. We tidied out my Dad's garage and pushed the car in, then drained the fuel and rolled it on its side on some sacks to get at the underside. There was a quite substantial chassis and a plywood floor about half an inch thick. We wire brushed and red oxided what we could reach. The new brake shoes were fitted and the new king-pin bushes inserted , then laboriously opened out to the size of the king-pins, using emery cloth wrapped round a piece of broom stick! She passed the MOT first go, and the world was her oyster! The foot brake operated only on the front wheels, by cables. The hand brake had its ratchet missing, if it ever had one, but we managed to fix it so it held on. The front suspension was a single leaf spring clamped to the centre of the chassis, with the front hub steering units bolted on the outer ends, and telescopic dampers. The rear suspension was provided by the engine unit mounted on a horizontal pivot at its front to the chassis frame as a radius arm, with a telescopic damper.
The two-stroke engine/gearbox unit , according to my cousin, was the same as that fitted in the Messerschmitt bubble car, with four forward gears selected by a gearstick with a rod connecting rearwards to the gearbox. Reverse was obtained by switching the ignition off, then pushing the ignition lock barrel in past the normal position, and then turning the key to restart. The clever bit was that the engine then ran backwards, because there were two sets of contact breakers! One worked for forward , the other for reverse. You then had four gears in reverse, which I can testify was very exciting! Apparently, to tax these little three wheel cars as a "motorcycle", which was allowed, there should be no reverse. (Presumably you were meant to get out and push!)To this end there was concealed under the dashboard, an isolating switch to prevent the engine being started in reverse.(What, me,officer?Going backwards?) Sixty miles per hour was possible, but you had to be brave or bonkers!the steering was very basic, like a go-cart, the wheels turning further than the steering wheel . Just great fun, bought to an end when my job took me abroad. My Dad sold her for forty pounds, and he saw it once or twice before it finally vanished from view.
Thanks a lot for giving me this bit of nostalgia

Kevin Downs - Jan'07
I was the proud owner of a couple of Nobels in the 60's. The first was usually called "the boat". Bought sort of "new" was a 4 wheeled open top version chassis no. 8. Been stood around for a few years so needed battery and some wood wanted replacing. Body was mostley ali - no fibre glass. Modified it to 3 wheeler and registered it in 1964 - it had 5 miles on the clock! ABH22B. Having only one seat meant I could learn to drive unaccompanied on my 16th birthday. Passed my test in it - examiner had to sit on a cushion. Had to do the reversing bit (including starting the engine backwards.) As it was a "car" test I acutally received my car driving licence before I was 17 but was not valid until my birthday. Wish I had a picture of it. Had no doors and had to fit hood etc as it was bought without. The windsreen mounts came loose and had to remove so bought another for spares a year later for £25, £5 less than the first but quite poor condition. Also had lots of problems with exhaust falling off. Didn't help that used to drive down the road turn the ignition off, and switch on again in reverse just as the engine was stopping reulting in a huge "bang" backfire.
I think the chassis no of the spare was No.80. It had spot weld rear light mounts instead of self tapping screws.Anyone got any pictures of the "boat" noble" - was always being stopped by police who would always "does it float?"
Also had a saloon Nobel - luxury not having to dry the seat or wipe the snow off The saloon reg was YXK283 - had lots of problems with jumping out of 4th gear

Frank Livesey - Sep '06
As I recall it had a sachs 200cc engine and as many reverse gears as it had forward gears.

David Sheliga - Aug '06
I restored a Nobel 200 in the erly 1980s in Durrington in Wiltshire. It was finished in white over red. Registration 354 XMM. The footbrakes operated by cable on the front wheeels and needed regular adjustment for them to be affective. One night, despite the gloworm like headlights , I drove it into Salisbury and when I came back to the car the nephew of York Nobel was waiting for me, as he had heard about the car but never seen one. What a coincidence!
I sold the car at the 1986 Bristol Classic car show (an epic drive of 55 miles) and despite going to numerous car shows have never seen it since. Where is it now?

Steve Hatcher - May '06
I had the identical car. It was a 191cc motorcycle engine. On mine the exhaust pipe would drop off and the cabin would fill with 2 stroke fumes. It had very poor brakes as I found out to my cost when I hit a Ford Anglia at an intersection. I pushed the broken wing into the passenger compartment to get home. When I turned the lights on the one inside the car worked and blinded me all the way home.

It was quite the car!!!

Ian Baxter - April '06
I used to have one sachs 2 stroke engine with a reverse polarity ignition switch so you had the same speed backwards,,, good for faster reverse parking, it was white and blue and I sold it to a friend for £15.00 when I was 16 years old, wish I still had it.

Mr M. Plant - April '06
I purchased Nobel 200 model ‘A’ (indicators at the front) in March 2005, with no registration, chassis or body numbers and no documentation present. The dealer recalls buying it from a guy in Wolverhampton and believes he purchased it locally. I assume it has been partially dismantled at some time, the engine is a seized, Sachs 175 replacement dated 1954 that is damaged where it mounts the rear axel, one third of the front left wheel rim is bent with the alloy portion of the hub nibbled around the edge.

This example has acquired a few eccentricities including a latch inside the passenger door to secure the lock handle, an aerodynamic ornament bolted to the bonnet and windscreen wiper arms expertly folded to shorten their arc. The body has been repainted orange (the majority of which has now deteriorated) and there is damage to the rear, a result of a possible impact with evidence of a previous repair, including a portion of bumper partially filled with grey filler. I’d be glad to hear from anyone who may recognize this description so I can establish periods in this cars life, you can contact me via email: nobelsurvey- at- hotmail.com or post a reply here.

Joe Gillespie - April '06
My father and I built a Nobel 200 - exactly like this one. It came in a hessian bag of nuts and bolts and we put it together in the back garden. I remember getting stuck in snow one day and we got out, picked it up and carried it home. Having to restart the engine to go backwards was a pain, but you could go backward in fourth and make the claim "my car could beat your car backwards". My father added a faux grille (gold expanded mesh) so it was slightly different from others.

Harry McCormick - Feb '06
Hi, My father of same name had a nobel 200( or was it called a 2000 ?) in the mid 60's. I remember the distinct noise of the engine and often saw it out of the car more times than it was in.
My brothers used to have weightlifting competitions to see who could lift the front of the car the highest. In the summer we used to bake in it all the glass and fibre glass. At night it was strange to see the front of the car from inside as the storage area where the bonnet should be light up when we met oncoming cars !!!
Oh I would love to get a spin in one of those cars now !!!

Mr R. Cooper - July '05
I still have a York Nobel bubble car which I bought in 1970 to use as a runnerbout to and from work for a grand price of £25. The original price at the 1959 Motor Show was £398, and they were also made in kit form. I still have the original log book and I am the 9th owner.

The engine is a SACHS 200L-AZL-R. I believe they were originally designed by Fuldamobil a German firm that existed between 1950 - 1960 they licenced a number of constructors and called the "Bambi" in Chile, the Han Vahaar in India and the Nobel in Britain whos managing director was Mr Cyril Lord of carpets fame.

When I bought the car it had been sprayed a bright yellow, instead of the official livery of Ivory and Blue. Some time ago my garage was broken into whilst I was working abroad and the car vandalized. It is now my next project to refurbish it again. I have found the original paint under the yellow and my intention is to bring it back to its original livery.

Mr. Chris Woodley - July '05
I also had a Nobel, mine was a three wheeler with a Sachs engine driving the single rear wheel via a chain. The Sachs engine was fitted with a 'Dynamotor' which acted as a starter motor, and then changed to a generator when the engine was running. This Dynamotor, also had the ability to start the engine backwards thereby giving you a reverse gear.

To get the engine to start in reverse you had to push the key in and then turn it. A large relay box in the engine compartment switched over all the polarities so that the starter would run backwards,and also the enable the generator to still charge the battery with the engine running backwards.

The engine had two sets of points, one for forwards running and the second for backwards running. The 4 speed gearbox was based on a motorcyle box and the floor mounted gearshift lever would always return to the central position (just like a motorcycle gear change). It was normally pushed forward for 1st then back from central position for 2nd, back again from central position for 3rd and the same for 4th. There was a small trigger on the gearshift which enabled you to go into Neutral between any gear. With the engine able to run forwards as well as backwards you had effectively 4 forward and 4 reverse gears.

I really loved this little car, but unfortunately it was destroyed by a side impact collision when a 'drunk' driver who was speeding crashed into the drivers side. It was immediately declared a write-off by the insurers. It was a very reliable little car, and broke down only once when the chain broke around midnight on my way home from a dance with 3 passengers, (it really was a bit unstable with 2 in the back and 2 in the front). My only regret is that I don't have any pictures of the little car.

Mr.W. Nettleton - June 05
Hi Brian,
I bought a S/H Noble for my wife around the same time that you bought yours. It was a great little vehicle and we had lots of fun with it after I had stripped it and reconditioned it. The engine was a Sach 200cc 2 stroke scooter/motor cycle unit with a paddle gear change lever. Reverse was obtained by means of a simple electrical switch arrangement (to retime the engine). The engine would then start, and run, quite happily in a reverse direction. Note that this gave you four gears in reverse which could be quite exilerating if you had the nerve. From your description of the reversing mechanism on your vehicle, I suspect that your engine was a four stroke unit. I have no idea who the engine would be made by. I have a few funny stories about my wifes adventures in the car.
Regards Walt Nettleton.

Roy Fuller - April '05
Very interesting. Can I buy one anywhere nowadays?
I had a Bond Minicar back in the 1960's and nostalgia is getting the better of me. I know they were all not a patch on today's modern motor cars, but I think that's half the attraction. Please get in touch if you have a respectable and usable three wheeler.

Nick Russell - September '04
Around 1973 a friend and I swapped a set of bicycle gears for a non roadworthy Nobel that had been sitting on another friends driveway for months.

We got the thing running - it was a 200cc two stroke - the engine of which (by my recollection) actually ran backwards or forwards depending on which direction you wanted to go.

Ours was a three wheeler and was great fun off road - must have been a death trap on the road.

The brakes were useless, we had to crash it into a hedge when we wanted to stop. There was also a wiring fault so that the starter motor was running all the time, so if you stalled it it immediately burst into life again.

We also had a Norman Nippy moped without an engine which we used to tow behind the Nobel - just for fun.

Eventually we sold it through the Exchange & Mart and actually made a profit.

Remembered fondly.

A Stimpson - August '04
I' ve just bought one of these cars on ebay. Needs a little tidying up but it's a little honey. there's not a lot of 'em left, I'd welcome any articles and pics for reference.

Hernan Enriquez - July 2004
I remember seeing these cars when I was a teenager in Chile around 1963. I am thrilled to find them on the web. I live in the US where nobody I know has ever heard of one.

Ellen Elder - April 04:
Apropos Shorts making motor cars, I was interested to read recently that Harland & Wolff built aeroplanes at the Aldergrove aerodrome during the lst world war. One which was test-flown by the American test pilot C.B. Prodger was at the time one of the largest ever built. It could carry enough fuel to keep it going for 15 hours at a stretch and had a speed of 100 mph. The span of the wings was 126 feet and the plane was originally intended to take part in the bombing of Berlin but as it was now December 1918, it was a little late. It was decided to utilise the plane in connection with the Indian mail service. The article goes on to say that "One can easily conceive of the time when the aeroplane will be a powerful rival to the railway train and the motor car in the conveyance of passengers.....during the past 18months and in adapting their great resources to the requirements of this industry, Messrs Harland & Wolff have proved that the initiative and enterprise which ha!
ve won worldwide renown for their Queen's Island works can ensure an equal measure of success when directed into new channels of activity".

KEITH WAGSTAFF - feb 08
I have owned a nobel 200 "A model" for 14 years , and ran the Nobel register for about six years.
I started restoring it in the mid nineties , but sadly after stripping the engine , it was found to be beyond repair , after five years of fruitless searching for a replacement all the restored parts were boxed up and stored away.
i hope to restore it in the future.
i still take great interest in the nobel, and collect reg and chassis numbers of surviving vehicles and i am interested in any photographs both old and new.

 

 

A Nobel car preserved in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra
A Nobel car seen here preserved in the
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra



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