Lister Reincarnates Company & Cars,
Building FIA-Legal Lister "Knobblys"
Cambridge, UK -- Lister, one of the seminal great marques in British sports car history, announced Wednesday that it is resuming production of period-correct versions of its world-beating 1958 "Knobbly" sports car, powered by Jaguar and Chevrolet Corvette engines.
After a gap of nearly 25 year since the last Lister came off the production line, the three Lister companies of George Lister Engineering, Brian Lister Light Engineering and Lister Storm have been consolidated into one company, Lister Motor Co. Ltd., which will build the cars in a new state-of-the-art facility in its ancestral home of Cambridge, including CNC machining, CAD design and 3D scanning to create near-identical duplicates of the original race cars, which dominated sports car racing in the late 1950s in Europe and the U.S.
The cars will be constructed to comply with FIA Appendix K race regulations, which means they will be to the same specifications as the original cars, but with modern safety enhancements, and will have chassis designations "BHL-C" to mark them as continuations of their predecessors, of which only some three dozen were built in period.
The backer of the new effort is Andrew Whittaker, founder of Warrantywise, one of the U.K.'s largest aftermarket used car warranty providers. A classic car collector, he told VM the impetus for the new effort stemmed from his attempt to buy a Lister project car in the U.K. that turned out to be "an impostor." Further research showed that the Lister trademark had been sold to a man in Portugal, and the designs and original bucks and jigs had been sold off years ago. Whittaker considered it "a damn shame, so I bought everything back." And in some cases more than once.
The haul includes Brian Lister's original working drawings and manufacturing jigs, and amazingly, many of the original employees involved in the late '50s effort have been called back into service, including Martin Murray, Colin "Chippy" Crisp, Graham "Curley" Hutton, Laurence Pearce and Brian Lister himself. Heading up manufacturing is George Lister Engineering technical director Mark Hallam, assisted by Jerry Booen of D Type Developments. Built to be race-ready out of the box, the Jaguar-powered models will have wide-angle head 3.8 liter Jaguar engines and D-Type gearboxes supplied by U.K. experts Crosthwaite & Gardener with track preparation by Chris Keith-Lucas of CKL Developments. The aluminum alloy Knobbly bodies will be created using the original Shapecraft body bucks by Clive Smart and Adrian Breeze.
Brian Lister previously constructed four "continuation" Knobbly-bodied Lister-Jaguars in the early 1990s atop original period chassis in inventory. Pricing hasn't been announced, but Whittaker told VM the Jaguar-powered models will cost around $550,000, with the Chevy-powered versions somewhat less. That may represent something of a bargain for a weapons-grade '50s sports racer, as real Lister-Jaguars have nearly doubled in price at auction in the last three years, with the original Briggs Cunningham Lister-Jaguar (BHL 101) selling last month at RM's Monterey auction for a world record $1.98 million.
Whittaker's son Lawrence, CEO of Warrantywise, said "Anyone with a fondness for British sports car manufacturing and with understanding of Lister's remarkable heritage should rightly be excited by this news. The Lister 'Knobbly' was a powerful, giant-killing racing car in its heyday, and with all the expertise we have brought together for this project, I can promise that the new Lister will be a fabulously exciting and desirable car...and we also have some very exciting plans for the future."
-- Reported by Mike Silver