True Brit!…or as close as we can get to it – Part 4, Lister
Lister was Britain’s most successful sports racing car of the 1950s, reports Iain Robertson, counting Archie Scott Brown and Stirling Moss among its most famous drivers, which was a major accolade for a small Cambridgeshire engineering firm established originally in 1890.
The first car to set a pattern for the firm was based on an early-1950s MG chassis. It featured bottle green paintwork, with the yellow stripe that would become its signature colourway. By 1956, Brian Lister, son of the founder, had acquired a Maserati racing engine and running gear and set about improving the car that would become known as Lister chassis BHL1. Around the same time, Archie Scott Brown was developing a good run of race wins for Lister, reinforcing them with a 2.0-litre Bristol-engined Lister. In fact, he was so successful that the firm built its first F2 single-seater just for him.
Towards the end of the 1950s, the renowned Lister Knobbly appeared, so called because of its unusual body panel shapes dictated by them following the outlines of the wheels. The car was designed by Lister to meet the windscreen height regulations for racing, while minimising the car’s frontal area. It was powered by a 3.0-litre version of Jaguar’s famous twin-cam engine. The curvaceous outline took the racing world by storm and Archie delivered his continued run of race wins.
By the end of the 1950s, things became quiet for Lister, until Lawrence Pearce, a Leatherhead, Surrey-based engineer and enthusiast, launched his Lister-badged version of the Jaguar XJ-S. Much modified, its 5.3-litre V12 engine was bored-out to 6.0-litres and the bodywork reworked extensively. Around 100 examples of the 1988 bespoke Lister Le Mans were produced, many with the 482bhp engine conversion, allied to a whopping £88,000 price tag.
The next landmark Lister was the Storm. Armed with a 7.0-litre Jaguar V12 unit developing 546bhp, it was both road and racing car. Only four examples were ever produced for the road, although the racing version enjoyed a great run of victories in the early-to-mid-1990s. The technology was applied to a Le Mans type of racing car, later re-engineered to include hybrid technology for a new endurance racing era in the New Millennium.
Following high demand for an open-top LFT-666, Lister Motor Company is now launching its most potent drop-top supercar ever, LFT-C, in readiness for summer 2019. Based loosely on the Jaguar F-Type, it boasts a top speed over 205mph and a 0-60mph time of 3.0s. Powered by a Lister-supercharged 666bhp V8 engine, it features Lister developed alloys, exhaust system, suspension and brakes. Its interior is bespoke and handstitched.
The car’s alloy frame is clad in purposeful carbon-fibre panels, designed and manufactured by Lister in the UK. Each of just 10 LFT-Cs will be built to specific customer demand and will carry a numbered silver plaque. Prices start at £139,000, with an unlimited options list available. Incidentally, father and son team, Andrew and Lawrence Whitaker, have owned Lister since 2013.
Both the LFT-C and LFP (SUV based on F-Pace) models will be displayed at the brand new, purpose-built, £6m, Lister headquarters and showroom in Blackburn, Lancashire, which opened earlier this year. The showroom area also displays a range of historically important Lister racing cars (including the renowned ‘Knobbly’) alongside classic Lister and other selected collectibles. Both Knobbly and Costin continuation models are still being built at Lister’s Cambridgeshire factory.
The LFT-666 coupe (based on F-Type again), which was limited to a total of 99 cars, received orders from around the world. Delivery of customer cars commenced in January, with examples heading as far afield as Canada and Australia. The entire 2019 allocation is now sold, although wealthy buyers can still place an order for delivery in early 2020.
In addition to the production LFT-666 and LFT-C models, Lister is also offering wheel and body enhancements for all Jaguar F-Type models worldwide, with kits starting from just £9,750 for the Lister badge, bumper and wheel upgrades. Cars with only the Lister body enhancements will be known as simply Lister LFT, with no power designation added. Warrantywise, is providing extended warranties for all Lister vehicles, meaning that a 7-year programme is now available across the entire Lister range.
Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of Lister, said: “Launching the new LFT-C is a personal triumph, as I have always loved convertible cars, ever since my second one, an MG Midget. While we are famous for cars like the Knobbly and the Storm, the LFT series heralds a new era for Lister and continues our historical enhancement of Jaguar drivetrains, which dates back to 1957. In 2019, we shall launch two new cars and have also just opened our new headquarters in Lancashire that will be known as the home of the new Lister.”
While it might not be the best-known of British car-making specialists, Lister does possess an illustrious history and, in the capable hands of the Whitaker family, it looks sure to enjoy a viable future too.
True Brit conclusions: Lister is a rare British success story. Yet, its vibrant legacy is being perpetuated by commercially-aware but enthusiastic new owners. ISQA recognises its stance on high-end quality and the added value it places on British automotive enterprise.
‘Make Quality Count!’