Lee Noble, acclaimed automotive engineer and designer, sets up Noble Motorsport Ltd and launches the Ultima Mk1.
The Ultima Mk1 had a square tube space frame chassis, Ford Cortina front uprights/brakes/steering, Austin Princess radiator and Renault front uprights/brakes on the rear. The V6 engine and transmission were taken from a Renault 30.
These are pages from the original brochure:
The car was first seen in the "Kitcars and Specials" magazine.
Before any Mk1 cars were sold, the Ultima Mk2 was developed using 99% of the Ultima Mk1 demonstrator car, but with the problematic Renault rear suspension replaced with Noble Motorsports’ own alloy uprights. These were machined to accept Renault wheel bearings and Lancia Beta rear brakes.
Development of the chassis for the Ultima Mk2.
The Ultima MK2 is featured in a promotional article and photoshoot in Sports Car Monthly Magazine alongside a genuine Porsche 956 race car.
Ted Marlow becomes Noble Motorsports first customer for an Ultima by purchasing an Ultima Mk2 with Ford 3.1litre V6 Essex power.
Pictures of Ted Marlow's Ultima Mk2:
Lee Noble and Ted Marlow promote the cars in a photo shoot at Newark market centre.
The press start to take a keen interest in the Ultima- Lee Noble and Ted Marlow promote the Ultima in Autochromes Magazine as a front cover feature.
Lee Noble and Ted Marlow go on to race their cars in a race series sponsored by Ted Marlow's Civil Engineering company.
This is Ted Marlow's Ultima Mk 2 at Mallory Park and Ted Marlow cutting Lee Noble off at the Mallory Park hairpin in a debate over 1st and 2nd positions.
After race discussion between Ted Marlow (front) and Lee Noble (rear) several races later once the red mist had lifted.
Lee Noble and Ted Marlow share many race wins and lap records, and dominate the race series. Lee Noble goes on to win the overall championship in the debut year and for two years in succession.
Ted Marlow re-engineers his Ultima Mk2 to accept a small block Chevrolet V8 coupled to a four speed Porsche transaxle along with revised suspension and bodywork.
Ted Marlow fits a small block Chevrolet V8 Formula 5000 based engine into his Ultima Mk2.
Ted Marlow decides to modify the rear bodywork of his Ultima Mk2.
Ted Marlow's Ultima Mk2 records many race wins in a race series now sponsored by Forwell Designs.
Ted Marlow wins at Oulton Park in heavy rain.
Ted Marlow builds a small block Chevrolet 377cu ins (6.2litre) V8 using a bowtie block and Kinsler injection to give a higher torque figure and improve corner exit speeds.
A TOTAL OF ONLY 13 ULTIMA MK2 VEHICLES WERE SOLD WORLDWIDE.
Noble Motorsport Ltd commissions a new Ultima body to be designed by an aluminium fabrication specialist. From this first aluminium body new fibreglass moulds are created. This shape becomes the Ultima Mk3.
Ultima Mk2 production ceases.
Noble Motorsport Ltd designs a new space frame chassis and the Ultima Mk3 is launched still only offered with V6 Renault power and donor parts.
An Ultima Spyder prototype is built by Noble Motorsport Ltd in race form only.
Other customers copy Ted Marlow's philosophy and fit small block Chevrolet V8 engines into their Ultima racecars after witnessing the staggering performance envelope of Ted's re-engineered Ultima equipped with Chevrolet V8 power and Porsche transaxle. Lap times tumble and the speed differential compared to all the other competitors is starting to be frowned upon on safety grounds.
Chevrolet V8 powered Ultima cars dominate races for five years. Taking championship victories every season.
Ultima cars hold the outright lap record for any car on road tyres (race regulations stipulated only road tyres could be used) on every circuit they race on.
Ted Marlow's Ultima Mk2 leads an Ultima Mk3 and Ultima Spyder prototype into the Mallory Park hairpin on lap one and go on to record yet another Ultima 1-2-3 victory.
Ultima Mk2 and an Ultima Mk3 lead the race.
Ultima Mk3 and Ultima Spyder prototype start race on the front row of the grid again at Cadwell Park
Ultima Spyder prototype at Cadwell Park going on to win the race.
The Ultima marque would often lap the entire field in a race at least once.
Ted Marlow purchases the rights, jigs and moulds for the Ultima Mk2 and Ultima Mk3 from Noble Motorsport Ltd.
Total Ultima sales to date under the ownership of Lee Noble between 1983 and 1992 is 26 including a total of 13 Mk3 kits.
This is the end of any involvement in the future development of the Ultima by Lee Noble.
Ultima Sports Ltd was formed by Ted and Richard Marlow based in premises at Long Itchington, Warwickshire.
The company goal was to produce a complete affordable supercar to be supplied in component form to an exceptional quality utilising all new purpose designed components for home assembly and that it would primarily be a road car. No donor parts from breakers yards were to be used again.
Not only would the Ultima be capable of being faster than any other road car available, but the design would now allow a relatively straightforward form of construction that would enable customers with no previous experience to build their own supercar at a fraction of the cost of any others.
A major feature was to emulate the format and hence ease of build adopted by radio control model car manufacturers.
Ted Marlow's Ultima Mk3 was initially used as a demonstrator and as a development car.
New chassis jig made to incorporate the fitting of the Chevrolet V8 engine, Porsche transaxle, twin fuel tanks, steering system, cooling system, pedals, gear change, suspension, seats and body fixings.
Picture of the base of jig.
All major components were designed from scratch to suit a small block Chevrolet V8 and Porsche transaxle in order to productionise the car.
The new company introduced a revised design to make the Ultima more road orientated and civilised including a five speed Porsche G50 transaxle, an air conditioning option, improved headlights, luggage compartments, gas ram assisted doors, weather seals, lockable doors, handbrake, adjustable suspension, improved ride quality, provision in loom for CD player etc., wiper system, fog lights and trim options.
Work starts on the Ultima Spyder. Only one prototype race Spyder had been produced by Noble Motorsport Ltd and a great deal of re-design had to be incorporated before it would be ready to launch. The same level of development required for the Ultima Sports went into the Spyder. The different shape dictated a novel door opening design, with new tonneau, rear bulkhead, wind deflector and roll bar.
Ultima Sports bodywork produced in carbon fibre as a one off design exercise. The high cost of this form of construction did not warrant the carbon body option to be supplied in the kit so this project was abandoned.
Work starts on designing and building a new model to replace the Ultima Sports, designated the Ultima GTR. The design changes focused on increasing the aerodynamic down force, enhancing the engineering integrity, complying with the latest regulations and improving the ease of build for home assembly over that of the Ultima Sports.
The Ultima GTR was to be a much more refined car, with a greater performance potential than the Ultima Sports it was to replace.
The bodywork was designed in house to full scale. Many lines were tried before the final shape was established.
For full list of design changes see Ultima History addendum 3.
Initial concept drawings for the new Ultima GTR model:
An Ultima GTR was built with carbon fibre bodywork for evaluation purposes. This form of construction was again not commercially viable due to the exceptional quality of the standard gel coat bodywork not requiring a heavy paint system that saves weight and cost.
The Ultima GTR self assembly supercar package is universally acknowledged to have reached a new market leading level of engineering excellence.
Work starts on designing and building a new model to replace the Ultima Spyder, designated the Ultima Can-Am. The design changes were undertaken with a view to increasing the aerodynamic down force, enhancing the engineering integrity, complying with the latest regulations and improving the ease of build for home assembly over that of the Ultima Spyder.
The Ultima Can-Am was to be a much more refined car with a greater performance potential than the Ultima Spyder that it replaced.
A key feature was the development of a system for quickly changing from the wind deflector to a full glass windscreen. The full screen option would make it possible to later design and fit a soft-top option.
For full list of design changes see Ultima History addendum 4.
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