• No results found

Salon Prive-2.jpg


Recreating a historic race winning legend: The Lister Knobbly

Published Fri, Jun 11, 2021 12:07 PM

The Lister Knobbly is a car you likely haven’t heard of, but is one of the most important automobiles in British motorsport history. 
This continuation, built by Lister themselves using the original chassis jig and tools that the craftsmen did in the ‘60s, is a very special car indeed. 


Lister are a company steeped in motorsport history. In fact, they’ve never really done anything else.

The company was formed in 1954 by Brian Lister, in deepest Cambridgeshire. Throughout the ‘50s, they became a force to be reckoned with, working with such names as Archie Brown and Frank Costin. Alas, as with many British sports car manufacturers, the good times wouldn’t last, and in 1959 the company stopped building race cars to concentrate on their road cars.  

Until 1963, anyway, when the ill-fated Rootes group would approach Brian and ask him to prepare a number of Sunbeam Tigers for Le Mans. The car would feature a 4.3 V8, tuned by none other than Carole Shelby himself, producing a heady 275bhp-115bhp more than the factory output. As you can guess, the project was a failure and led to the demise of Lister as they knew it. 

Until 1986, when a plucky entrepreneur by the name of Laurence Pearce getting his hands on a number of Jaguar XJSs and tuning the V12s to the point where the once luxurious grand tourer would hit north of 200mph. Nowadays, a Lister XJS will set you back more than £100k but will trouble many modern supercars. 

The ridiculous XJS led onto the development of one of Lister’s most famous cars; The Storm. It had the largest V12 ever fitted to a production car (in the loosest possible sense of the word-they only made 4 road cars), but it would see massive success on the race track. In 2000, it won the highly coveted FIA GT Championship and is still regarded as one of the greatest race cars of all time. 


Let’s rewind from the XJS and Storm, back to the 1950s. 1958 in fact, when the Lister Knobbly was revealed to the world. It was, and still is, renowned as one of the greatest race cars of the ‘50s, and was piloted by some true legends of motorsport; Stirling Moss, Archie Scott-Brown, Bruce Halford, Ivor Beub, and Innes Ireland, to name but a few. 

But this example isn’t an original example, lovingly restored to as-new condition. Nor is it a replica, or a kit car. It’s an official continuation, built painstakingly to the original specifications and plans by Lister themselves. They use the very same chassis jig that the original builders used more than 60 years ago, along with the same old English wheels and hand tools. This is a very, very special car. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, considering this is exactly (and we mean exactly) how the original came from the factory all those years ago, that it’d probably be a bit slow nowadays. Not quite able to keep up with its contemporaries.  

Well, you’d be wrong, because thanks to a Crosthwaite & Gardiner 3.8-litre twin-cam powerplant liberated from a Jaguar, pushing out 340bhp, this thing is quick. In fact, it weighs in at just 900kg, giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than a brand-spanking Porsche 911 GT3 RS! 

Lister have been such sticklers for detail that the Knobbly (the name comes from the voluptuous curves when viewed side-on) runs an ancient dynamo system, rather than a modern alternator, and a points style ignition. The noise it makes is glorious, and we’re reliably informed that it really does feel like stepping back in time when you drive it. 


It’s not overly difficult to have a Knobbly built by the team at Lister. You’ll just need patience, as each car is built to order, with an 18-month waiting list, and with every piece of that beautiful bodywork hand-formed in aluminium, it takes 400 hours for that alone. You’ll also need north of £300,000 as that’s what a Knobbly continuation will set you back. Bargain. 


We were lucky enough to get up close and personal with this particular Knobbly which, it has to be said is finished in our favourite colour scheme, at Salon Prive, an ultra-exclusive event at Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace-the ancestral home of none other than Winston Churchill.  

It’s an event that provides an atmosphere like no other and gives us mere mortals the opportunity to see some of the world’s most special cars, released from their heated garages for the day. 


Manufacturer: Lister 
Model: Knobbly 
Powertrain: Crosthwaite & Gardiner 3.8-litre twin-cam, 4-speed manual gearbox, drum brakes 
Construction: Hand crafted aluminium body, ladder chassis 
Weight: 900kg (dry) 
Power: 340bhp 
Performance: Lister do not quote anything so uncouth 
Price: £300,000 
Exclusivity: A small number have been produced since 2014