In the time it's taken for the Exile to come to be, Noble created a toy as a side project; the Bug:R.
Lee Noble launches £18,000 Bug:R beach buggy
See, while the Exile's original GM engine caused a two-year delay in its development, another part of Noble’s brain was bored, and started work on the Bug:R; a beach buggy designed purely for fun. Noble created the car on a whim, and now plans to shift 20-30 of them every year.
Cars are excruciatingly planned things, as the Exile proves. They take years to think up, years to develop, and often, years to become successful, if ever. Manufacturers have plenty of time to create their own Bug:R side projects, surely?
Imagine if mainstream manufacturers took a leaf out of Noble’s book and went wild. Imagine if BMW boss Harald Krüger, bored with thinking about the 5 Series saloon, had decided to go into a new niche, and create a rival to the Land Rover Defender, just ‘cause.
Or Takahiro Hachigō of Honda became weary of developing the next-generation CR-V, and decided that what Honda needs is a Civic Type R-powered rival to the Ariel Atom. Wouldn’t it be lovely?
It happens sometimes, perhaps, with examples like the Renault Sport Spider, BMW Z8 and Smart Crossblade, but not nearly often enough; the business case is king; different is risky, and risky isn’t allowed. If many manufacturers endeavour to have a halo model, they should also have the completely-out-there equivalent; a devil horn model, if you like.
I suppose that's the role of concept cars, but regardless, we applaud Lee Noble's creative freedom, and wish that others were even half as daring and worry-free in their pursuits.