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Lister cars back from the dead

Fri, 27 Sep 2013

The ‘Cars from Cambridge’ are coming back!

OK, so Cambridge doesn’t quite have the same impact as say Detroit or Maranello, but Lister Cars deserves its place in the UK automotive hall of fame.

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Two things – or more specifically, cars – immediately spring to mind when thinking about Lister.

Firstly, the rather lovely D-Type-based Lister-Jaguar ‘Knobbly’. And secondly, the 7.0-litre Lister Storm of 1993, which, at the time, boasted the largest V12 engine ever fitted to a production road car.

Probably best not to mention that the ‘Car from Cambridge’ was, by then, built in Leatherhead, Surrey.

It was a successful venture, though. Previously resurrected in 1986, Lister Cars Ltd tuned approximately 90 Jaguar XJS models to a top speed of 200mph. The price for such a monster was a cool £100,000.

Spurred on by the success of the XJS, Lister created the aforementioned Lister Storm that, with such formidable engine and performance figures, was always a cracking card to get when playing Top Trumps with your mates.

But it’s the ‘Knobbly’ that most people will associate the Lister name with. Brian Lister, the company’s founder, was given a big break in the 1950s when he was offered the engines and gearboxes from the retiring Jaguar D-Types.

Lister needed the foundations of a car with a proper racing pedigree, Jaguar’s owner, William Lyons, wanted the Jaguar name to live on in motorsport long after the D-Type had past its sell-by-date. It was a win-win situation.

Brian Lister designed and built a new lightweight and aerodynamic chassis, along with the aforementioned ‘knobbly’ body to take the mechanicals. In the mid ’50s, the Lister-Jaguar would successfully compete against the likes of Aston Martin and, er, Jaguar.

And it’s the ‘Knobbly’ D-Type that will underpin the reemergence of this famous British name.

Three companies – George Lister Engineering of Cambridge, Brian Lister Light Engineering and Lister Storm – will reunite to form the much simpler sounding Lister Motor Company Limited. Which is a relief, as it would have been a bit of a mouthful otherwise.

The plan is to use the original working drawings and manufacturing jigs to create a near-identical version of the 1950s racer. According to the firm, the new car will be ‘race-ready’ and built according to FIA standards.

Lawrence Whittaker, an investor in the project, has promised:

“The new Lister will be a fabulously exciting and desirable car. This is a passionate undertaking for us and we also have some very exciting plans for the future”.

Exact specifications and performance figures are as yet unknown, but we do know that the company is planning a series of Lister-sponsored historic meetings in 2015.

As for the price, well, we suspect it will be a case of ‘if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it’.

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