Classified spotlight: 1958 Lister-Jaguar

Racing History


The Gran Turismo games of the late ’90s and early ’00s were a great catalyst for a generation’s love of motor sport and cars in general. The franchise provided access to a host of machinery that was unthinkable before the development of advanced computers and talented software writers. Teenagers all over the world could look at, listen to and drive a selection of the most appealing road and sports cars that money could buy. A trio of vehicles stand out in my memory from the days when PlayStation controllers were glued to my hands: the Nissan PENNZOIL Nismo GT-R, the Autobacs Arta Garaiya and the menacing Lister Storm GT.

As you selected your weapon of choice the game displayed each car’s vital statistics at the base of the screen. Listed under the aggressive looking Lister the figures read; ‘Type: FR [front engine, rear wheel drive]; Power: 602PS/6100rpm; Torque: 80.20kgf.m/3450rpm’. The numbers seemed monstrous and the car sounded almost violent as its virtual torque constantly fought to overwhelm the rear tyres around the game’s many circuits. At the time I was unaware of Lister’s history or of the Storm’s famous relation, the Lister-Jaguar.

Designed and built by Brian Lister in Cambridge, his cars were hugely successful competitors at home and across the Atlantic throughout the 1950s. The Jaguar association was established late in the decade as the factory team offered Lister Cars a supply of D-type drivetrains. The engines themselves were 3.8-litre, 6-cylinder units with wide-angle heads and dry-sump lubrication. It is difficult to be categoric about power figures for historic racers, but should you acquire this Lister-Jaguar from Fantasy Junction, expect in the region of 300bhp at 6500rpm.

From the archive: The life of Brian (1997)

Lister redesigned his cars around the Jaguar powerplant, focusing on removing weight and minimising drag. As with modern competition cars, the bodywork looks as through it has been formed tightly against its mechanical underpinnings. The aluminium cladding dives steeply in every direction from the height of the wheel arches, giving the car a distinctive aesthetic. It is also the feature that gave rise to the car’s well-known nickname – the Lister “Knobbly”. To my eyes, it is a design that looks right from every angle. Its curves draw the eye smoothly across the bodywork, from one corner to the next, without interruption or blemish.

The blue and gold example pictured here is an original ’58 Lister-Jaguar and possesses a letter from the car maker that confirms as much. It is thought to be one of approximately 12 Jaguar-powered cars built in period, making it exceptionally rare. It also boasts an impressive race history, winning a series of events at Snetterton and Brands Hatch in its year of manufacture. After ’58 the car was sold to the United States where it continued competing before returning home in 1970.

Despite its busy start to life, this Knobbly’s racing exploits are not confined to two decades. The car made its historic racing debut in ’72 and has been kept active ever since. Paul Skilleter, author of ‘Lister-Jaguar’, describes the car as “the most actively raced Lister-Jaguar and the most consistently quick”.

The race mileage has gone hand-in-hand with significant levels of maintenance and restorative work. Californian-based Fantasy Junction, responsible for the sale, hold extensive documentation on the car including invoices for much of its upkeep. It is estimated that over $450,000 US dollars have been spent on the Knobbly since ’99. This figure is not hard to believe when you scroll through the extensive photo gallery on the vendor’s website. The car is spotless.

Although the Knobbly would be welcomed with open arms at historic race events across the world, this example is also road legal. A morning at its controls on open A-roads are what dreams are made of. If you have not heard a Lister-Jaguar at full tilt, it is time you watched the video below.


The car is listed at just north of £1m. Much to my disappointment, I can never realistically contemplate purchasing this British machine, but perhaps Gran Turismo will feature the Knobbly in a future release, giving us all, in a small way, access to such a captivating motor vehicle.

Click here to visit the car’s classified page.

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