1958 / 1980s Lister Jaguar 'Knobbly',
Lot 374
The ex-Yoshiyuki Hayashi,1958 model/1980s assembled 3.8-litre Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' Competition Sports Two-Seater Chassis no. see text Engine no. KH 6489-8
Sold for £232,500 (US$ 385,541) inc. premium
Lot Details
The ex-Yoshiyuki Hayashi
1958 model/1980s assembled 3.8-litre Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' Competition Sports Two-Seater
Chassis no. see text
Engine no. KH 6489-8


  • The muscular and extremely competitive Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' sports-racing cars originated in 1958 today form the backbone of Historic class sports car competition. What we are offering here is an extremely competitive 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguar – offered here with current HTP papers (issued 30th January 2007) serial no GB 5889. The vendor has driven the car extensively in Vintage Sports Car Club, Historic Sports Car Club and Bentley Drivers Club competition where he has gained outright wins and placings – and he was also a regular competitor in the erstwhile British Racing Drivers' Club 50s Sports Car Championship where podium finishes were achieved. The car has competed twice in the British Grand Prix supporting race at Silverstone – most recently last year – and it has also appeared at venues as diverse as Macau, Spa-Francorchamps, Nogaro, Ricard-Castellet and Imola, in addition to nearly every leading UK circuit.

    The car as offered here was assembled in the early 1980s from an extensive stock of original, made-in-period major Lister-Jaguar components. Most importantly, this stock included what we understand was an original Lister-made chassis frame that had been discarded by its original owner following an accident in a British race meeting during 1959. The owner of the car in question was a complete perfectionist, and rather than have the slightly damaged frame repaired he instead bought a fresh frame from the Lister company's Abbey Road works in Cambridge, England, and had his car reassembled around it. The old frame was set aside, and retained by the owner's contemporary mechanic as having been still "too good to throw away".

    In the early 1980s the British motor racing journalist and historian Doug Nye was commissioned by an associate of Japanese collector Yoshiyuki Hayashi to acquire an "affordable" Lister-Jaguar. Nye contacted Historic racing Lister specialists John Harper and John Pearson, who subsequently assembled the car now offered here to Mr Nye's order. It was completed with a freshly-made body fashioned in aluminium by renowned specialist Bob Smith after the original style. Doug Nye understood that original 1958-59 period components built into the re-assembled car included the once-bent, now repaired, period chassis frame, the distinctive final-drive unit, the de Dion tube, wheels and numerous other smaller parts.

    During Mr Nye's tenure pre-export, the car was photographed locally by the late, great, specialist motor racing photographer Geoffrey Goddard, and it then starred as the 'Salon' feature car in an issue of the leading American magazine 'Road & Track', with general Lister-Jaguar text by Nye. The car was fitted with a Jaguar XK-series 6-cylinder twin-cam engine, and had been finished in the works Lister-Jaguar racing colours of bright green with a yellow central stripe and nose intake surround. Just before it was due to be collected for transport to the Docks, it rolled forward in Nye's garage and struck a ZF gearbox sitting on the floor there. One of the prominent bolt heads on the gearbox tail casing punched a neat hole in the Lister's nose. There was no time for repair or repaint. Instead Nye found matching-coloured plasticene in his kids' toy box, so plugged the hole with that... Some ten years later when visiting the Hayashi Collection at Gotemba, Japan, he saw the Lister-Jaguar – apparently un-run since the day it had been delivered – and his last-minute plasticene repair had survived there untouched.

    In later years the car was sold from the Hayashi Collection into the American trade. The car subsequently returned to the UK where – for the past ten years - it has been extensively campaigned in Historic sports car racing by the current vendor.

    During the later 1950s the sports-racing cars produced by Brian Lister in Cambridge, England, became the dominant force not only in 'free-Formula' British sports car racing but also in Sports Car Club of America national Championship competition. The exploits of works drivers Archie Scott-Brown and Stirling Moss in the 1957-58 model Lister-Jaguars, and of American stars Walt Hansgen and Ed Crawford in the Briggs Cunningham team cars, are still recalled with awe by all who followed sports car racing during that period. The Lister-Jaguars were very powerful, very fast and lighter than the rival D-Type Jaguars and Aston Martin DBR1s and DBR2s. In Britain, Lister-Jaguars most notably defeated the tool-room made factory Aston Martins, and today the legend of the 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguars and Lister-Chevrolets lives on in Historic sports car racing.

    Brian Lister was the grandson of family company founder George Lister, and it was in 1890 that Geo. Lister, Charles Flatters and Harry Branch had formed a partnership in Cambridge, setting-up a general engineering, blacksmith and wrought ironwork shop in Abbey Road there. As his partners retired and his sons Alfred and Horace joined the business, so it became 'Geo. Lister & Sons' in 1919. Horace subsequently became sole proprietor in 1930 after the early death of his brother Alfred, and then their father. Horace's sons Raymond and Brian subsequently became directors, acceding to joint Managing Directorship in 1954. In the 1920s, Alfred Lister had briefly added the words "and Automobile Engineers" to the company title, but after his premature death it was lost...until Brian Lister developed his interest in motor racing from 1948, when he had his first competitive outings in a Morgan 4/4 sports. He then built himself a Cooper-MG sports car assisted by like-minded Lister apprentice Edwin 'Dick' Barton. He then raced his own Tojeiro-JAP named the 'Asteroid' after his interest in astronomy, but due to its driver describing its on-track behaviour as "simply frightening" the car became generally better known as the 'Haemorrhoid Tojeiro-JAP'. Young Brian became great friends with a diminutive – but immensely talented - fellow enthusiast living in Cambridge who proved to be a world-class racing driver – young Archie Scott Brown. He was born with only one hand, and exceptionally short legs, but his competitive nature and fantastic sense of balance equipped him perfectly to become a racer.

    When Brian Lister and Scott Brown were joined by local motor engineer Don Moore the triumvirate had been formed which would create the brief but immensely successful series of Lister sports-racing cars.

    'Brian Lister (Light Engineering) Ltd' was set-up to build the racing cars, which emerged with MG, Bristol, Jaguar, Chevrolet and even Maserati engines from 1954-1959.

    The most famous model of them all was the Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' – just study this car's body shape to appreciate how the nickname came about – and long after Brian Lister had closed his car manufacturing business (following Scott Brown's fatal accident at Spa, Belgium, in May 1958) these great cars became the sports-racing backbone of the Historic and Vintage racing movements on both sides of the Atlantic. This car – which was completely reconditioned and whose major components were crack-tested as recently as 2007 - is offered here effectively ready to race.

    It is a splendid tribute to the marque. It was re-created by expert specialists around a high proportion of original period components, and today it has the proven potential to be highly competitive in Historic sports car racing.
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