Lister-Jaguar "Knobbly" (1958)

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United KingdomLocation: United Kingdom United KingdomTitle/Tax Status: United Kingdom
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Brian Lister was the son of a wealthy industrialist. He, like many did, entered motor racing with his own creation and first raced an MG engined Cooper chassis in 1951. This was soon replaced by a Tojeiro chassis with an air-cooled Jap motorcycle engine. It immediately impressed and Lister seriously considered marketing the racer, although several bugs still needed to be ironed out. During one of the races in the Tojeiro-Jap, he was nearly beaten by a young Archie Scott Brown in a much slower MG TD. This was even more remarkable considering the Scotsman sufferedhad only one fully functional hand.

Lister quickly realised that his business could move ahead quicker if he concentrated on building the cars and having Scott Brown race them. This bought Lister some time to turn his ideas for a brand new racing car into metal. Having had little experience in designing racing cars, it was not surprising that his first go at it was utterly conventional with a basic ladder frame made up of two large tubular members. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front and a DeDion axle at the rear. The relatively high unsprung weight of the DeDion axle was compensated by moving the rear brakes inboard. An MG engine was fitted and the rolling chassis was covered by a Brian Lister designed bodywork.

In 1954 the MG engine was replaced by a more powerful Bristol two litre straight six, which debuted victoriously at Silverstone, beating the more potent Jaguar C-Types. Scott Brown continued to impress on the British Isles, but he was refused an international license and for example could not take part in a Formula 1 race at Monza with Connaught. There was one F1 entry in the British Grand Prix, where he set the fastest lap, but his future lay in sports cars.

In 1955 and 1956 Lister experimented with various engines and also seriously considered Formula 2 racing. Following the devastating fire at the Jaguar competitions department in February 1957 and their subsequent retirement from international racing meant a turn for the better for Lister as the highly potent D-Type engines would become available for customers. The chassis was adapted to accept the Jaguar engine and a now legendary Lister-Jaguar combination was born. Now matching the competition's power, the works Lister was easily the quickest car of the 1957 season and Scott Brown won eleven of the fourteen races he contested in, often humiliating factory machines like the new Aston Martin DBR1s and DBR2s. Understandably this success grabbed the attention of potential customers and Lister started with the production of privateer cars. To cope with the added power the chassis tubes were of a slightly wider diameter, but other than that little changed to the initial design drawn up in 1953.

The Listers were clothed in a tightly wrapped aluminium body with prominent bulges to clear the wheels, giving them the nick-name 'Knobbly'.

"This car offers the best combined price to performance, power to weight, and power to frontal area ratios available anywhere in the world for a sports car." - Lister Press Release, October 1957.

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  • Lister-Jaguar "Knobbly"
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  • DK Database ID: #1700

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