My Car Quest

August 18, 2017

The Classic Lister Knobbly – Very Fast And Very British

by Mike – 

George Lister and Sons was a Cambridge, England based irons works. Brian Lister, one of the sons, was more interested in race cars than iron gates and fences.

Lister Knobbly

In 1954 Lister introduced his first sports car powered by a tuned MG engine. The Lister-MG was not as successful as Lister desired, so they changed to a tuned Bristol two-liter engine. At the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Lister-Bristol won the two-liter class and was fifth overall, ahead of C Type Jaguars, behind only works Aston Martins. Lister sold these cars in kit form to anyone who wanted to go racing.

Lister Knobbly

In 1957 Lister designed a car to be powered by an inline six cylinder Jaguar engine with an aerodynamic aluminum body and a winner was born! They were able to beat the works Aston Martins and Lister won the 1957 Empire Trophy. Among the Lister customers were the Americans, Briggs Cunningham and Jim Hall.

Lister Knobbly

While another American racer, Lance Reventlow, did not use the Lister chassis he was influenced by Lister as a result of a visit to their factory in Cambridge. Reventlow built his own racecar, the Scarab.

Lister Knobbly

The Lister design was improved again in 1958, with a sleeker body and improved brakes. Archie Scott Brown and Masten Gregory won a few races against stiff competition. Unfortunately Archie Scott Brown was killed in a crash at Spa in Belgium.

Lister Knobbly

The next year, Lister introduced an improved model with a new body that was quite attractive and was nicknamed the “knobbly”. It was very successful with Jaguar engines but also used Chevrolet Corvette engines.

The Knobbly was very fast, beautiful and the best Lister of all.

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  1. Hi Mike great article on Listers and a nice picture of me in my old olive green Lister Chevy.
    For info the 1958 car was known as a Knobbly on account of its numerouse bulges. For 1959 Brian Lister worked with Frank Costin to build a more aerodynamic shape and this car of which aprox 14 were made became known as the “Costin Lister”. There was a final car built in 1959 that was very diffrent as it was a true space frame car as oposed to the basic ladder chassis of previouse cars. This car was eventualy fitted with a coupe body and raced at Le Mans and Nurbergring.

    • Jaime,

      Thanks for the note – how cool that you saw yourself on My Car Quest! I would love to see more photos if you want to share them with us all.

      Another reader wrote that he has photos that he took of a Costin Lister in 1961. I am waiting for him to send them to me, fingers crossed.

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