The Ex-Briggs Cunningham Team/Walt Hansgen/Ed Crawford/John Fitch,1958 Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. (BHL) EE101 Engine no. ????? AMEND AMEND AMEND ?????
Lot 258
The Ex-Briggs Cunningham Team/Walt Hansgen/Ed Crawford/John Fitch,1958 Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' Sports-Racing Two-Seater Chassis no. (BHL) EE101
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Lot Details
The Ex-Briggs Cunningham Team/Walt Hansgen/Ed Crawford/John Fitch
1958 Lister-Jaguar 'Knobbly' Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. (BHL) EE101


  • Here we are delighted to offer one of the most important of all surviving Lister-Jaguar sports-racing cars. It has a long history as the very first prototype 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguar in the Cambridge sports car marque's definitive 1958-season form. As one of the Briggs Cunningham Automobile Racing Team's two regular, highly-developed and beautifully-prepared entries it played a major role in securing the 1958 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship title for driver Walt Hansgen.

    For 1958, the FIA world governing body's rule makers had decreed a blanket 3-litre capacity limit on Sports Car World Championship entries. Jaguar had introduced a 3-litre XK engine variant to match, and American multi-millionaire sportsman Briggs Cunningham had visited Lister's factory in Abbey Road, Cambridge, England, with his technical director, Alfred Momo, to study Lister's product. Mr Cunningham had immediately ordered the first two 1958 production Lister-Jaguars to be completed, and specified they should be delivered with 3-litre Jaguar XK engines installed in time for the Sebring 12-Hours Word Championship round in Florida,on March 22, 1958. A third chassis was also ordered to carry a Chevrolet V8 engine.

    In February, 1958, the first Cunningham car, notionally chassis 'BHL 101' as now offered here, was shown to the British press at Cambridge immediately upon its completion. Its muscle-bound new body form created an instant sensation – and 'The Knobbly Lister-Jaguar' had been born...

    Brian Lister had styled this body to weave its way brilliantly through FIA 'Appendix C' screen-height regulations and to minimize frontal area despite the considerable height of the iron-block Jaguar XK engine. The new design's nose bonnet section featured deeply scalloped valleys between the front-wheel clearance wings and a central hump enclosing the engine. At its rear end this cam-box clearance hump fell away sharply to a low-level scuttle, from which the windscreen Perspex then rose to the required regulation height – being measured (most significantly) from well below overall engine height. The rear body section deck was then level with the top of the windscreen, with flaring rear wings enclosing the wheels and a shapely headrest behind the driver.

    Brian Lister had drawn this body shape in elevation and section, before presenting his drawings to Cavendish Morton who produced an artist's impression perspective painting. This was put out as a 'taster' to the press before the first car was built. The aluminium body panels for the production run of cars were then formed by Williams & Pritchard in Edmonton, North London. Len Pritchard had wartime aircraft industry experience of forming lightweight magnesium-alloy panels and he suggested to Brian Lister that panels in magnesium instead of aluminium could save half the weight...despite doubling the price! Brian Lister then offered 'Knobbly' bodies in aluminium or magnesium-alloy to customer choice.

    The two Briggs Cunningham team 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguars were completed just in time to be air-freighted to America, where they were to be race prepared for the Sebring 12-Hours by Alfred Momo's mechanics at his large Momo Corporation works. The first of these cars – as offered here – had been built upon a chassis originally ear-marked for a David Murray Ecurie Ecosse order, and it is believed it was for this reason that it was stamped with the chassis serial 'EE101' instead of a conventional Lister system 'BHL'-prefixed serial ('BHL' for 'Brian Horace Lister'). The 'EE 101' stamping appears on this car's top-right front suspension tower today, with the 'EE' prefix over-stamped – rather crudely – 'BHL'...101.

    Cunningham's two brand-new 3-litre Lister-Jaguars were then to be co-driven at Sebring by the British works star Archie Scott-Brown paired with the great American Walt Hansgen, and by Ed Crawford/Pat O'Connor.

    During practice there, the snow-white Listers with their twin blue centerline stripes not only sounded glorious but were also very quick against factory Ferrari and Aston Martin opposition. On race day, Scott-Brown ran fifth in the opening two laps behind Stirling Moss and Roy Salvadori's Aston Martins and Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill in Ferrari Testa Rossa V12s. Ed Crawford chased two more Ferrari TRs in eighth place.

    But on lap 4, at the hairpin, Scott-Brown's Lister-Jaguar slowed early and Olivier Gendebien was caught-out badly in the pursuing Ferrari, ramming the Cunningham car's tail and riding up over it – his left front tyre clouting Scott Brown's crash helmet and leaving a tread mark on his shoulder...

    The Belgian manhandled his car down off the Lister's battered tail and drove to the pits – eventually to finish second overall – while a bitterly disappointed Scott Brown was out of the race, his car's sudden deceleration having been caused by a piston burning out. The other Cunningham Lister then suffered an identical failure within the first 45 minutes, followed by every other Jaguar-engined entry. The 3-litre XK engine was a rare Jaguar mistake...

    But Walt Hansgen had become a convert to the Lister-Jaguar from his preceding Cunningham D-Type Jaguar. After Sebring '58 – as quoted in Mike Argetsinger's marvelous Hansgen biography (David Bull Publishing, 2006) – the American Champion Driver wrote: "The Lister goes through the 'S' turns and over bumpy parts of the circuit far better than the 'D' Type. I believe this is due to several factors. The rear unsprung weight is very much lower and the weight distribution is better for braking. The 200 pounds less in total weight as compared with the 'D' is a considerable asset when approaching a corner. However, had I spent six hours driving the Lister, I suspect that I'd still be in Florida recuperating."

    These two Cunningham team Lister-Jaguars were re-engined immediately after Sebring with full 3.8-litre power units enlarged and perfected by the Momo Corporation. They thereafter achieved almost total domination of that year's SCCA National Championship race series.

    Beginning at Marlboro on April 20, 1958, Walt Hansgen won handsomely in the prototype Cunningham car, and on May 4 at Danville, Virginia, team-mate Ed Crawford won in his sister car with Hansgen second. In a second race there the Cunningham pair again finished 1-2, this time Hansgen winning from Crawford.

    At Cumberland airport on May 18, Hansgen and Crawford achieved another 1-2 finish in the team Listers, and at Bridgehampton, on Long Island, on June 1 the pair repeated this success. Walt Hansgen won yet again at Lime Rock on June 15 – this time in a lone Cunningham team entry – while normal service then resumed at the Elkhart Lake June Sprints meeting on June 22 with Hansgen and Crawford finishing first and second for the fifth time that season. They notched a sixth 1-2 finish back at Lime Rock on July 5 – Crawford ahead of Hansgen – but at Montgomery, Alabama, on August 17 Crawford failed to finish while Hansgen was beaten into second place by Chuck Daigh's works Scarab-Chevrolet.

    Of Lime Rock in the Lister, again as quoted in Mike Argetsinger's book, Walt Hansgen wrote: "Once again the area where the Lister excels in handling over the 'D' is on just this kind of a short winding circuit. The 'D' had to be steered around...with the accelerator and any amount of increase on the steering wheel made little or no difference. However, with the Lister, the steering wheel application makes considerable difference...Through these (turns) the Lister handles very well..."

    The American-engined Scarabs overcame the imported Lister-Jaguars again at Thompson on September 1, when Walt Hansgen's Lister was beaten by Lance Reventlow's Scarab-Chevrolet. The Lister-Jaguars were competing against the most exotic opposition in these American National events, and in the Road America 500-Miles at Elkhart Lake on September 7, victory went to Lance Reventlow/Gus Andrey co-driving nothing less than a 4-cam V12-engined Ferrari 335S. Both the Cunningham Lister-Jaguars, co-driven by Phil Forno, Hansgen and John Gordon Bennett, stripped their final-drive pinions and failed to finish,

    But the Cunningham team Lister-Jaguars then redeemed themselves in the Watkins Glen Grand Prix for sports cars on September 20, when Ed Crawford won in his regular 'No 61' Lister, from Walt Hansgen second in his 'No 60'. Still the Cunningham Listers' tumultuous race season was not over, as at Virginia International Raceway on October 5 Hansgen notched yet another win in his.

    Briggs Cunningham not only continued to campaign the 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguars in 1959, but also added one of the latest Costin-bodied variants. For the 1959 Sebring 12-Hour race Alfred Momo fitted new engines to the Cunningham Listers – 'Knobbly' '101' for Walt Hansgen/Dick Thompson, '102' for Briggs /Lake Underwood/Russ Boss, and a brand-new Costin-bodied 1959 Lister to be shared by British professionals Stirling Moss/Ivor Bueb. While the 1958 regulation 3-litre World Championship-race Jaguar XK engines had been basic 3.4-litre units diminished to 3-litres, for 1959 basic 2.4-litre blocks were used, increased to 3-litres. These proved both more powerful and more reliable than their predecessors. But in the 12-Hour race Hansgen's 'Knobbly 101' lost 68 minutes in the pits having a fractured de Dion tube replaced. Later a tyre failure caused further delay. The car finally finished 12th with its sister 'Knobbly' 15th. Moss had run out of fuel after going well in the new Costin car and was disqualified for receiving outside assistance.

    Back to SCCA National competition with the full 3.8-litre XK engines, at Marlboro on April 19, Hansgen's Lister could only finish second to Don Sesslar's Porsche RSK. At Danville on May 3, Hansgen won while Briggs Cunningham/Dick Thompson finished seventh in 'Knobbly No 61'...

    At Cumberland on May 17, Walt Hansgen won while Briggs Cunningham placed 11th in his sister Lister-Jaguar. At Bridgehampton on May 31, Hansgen won again, this time with team-mate John Fitch fifth in his car and Briggs Cunningham ninth.

    Hansgen's Lister failed at Lime Rock on July 4, where Cunningham finished seventh, while at Montgomery on August 9, Walt Hansgen/Phil Forno's Lister-Jaguar finished second behind George Constantine's big-engined Aston Martin DBR2. As a sign of the times John Fitch drove a Cunningham-entered Cooper Monaco there, with rear-mounted engine.

    But Hansgen promptly proved there was still life in the front-engined Lister-Jaguar concept by winning at Thompson Raceway on September 7. The Cunningham Lister-Jaguars re-emphasised their formidable pedigree as Ed Crawford/Walt Hansgen then won the Road America '500' at Elkhart Lake on September 13, with Briggs Cunningham/John Fitch fourth in the sister car.

    Watkins Glen on September 26 then saw Hansgen winning another sports car Grand Prix for Lister, with Cunningham himself and Ed Crawford sharing the sixth-placed sister car. An SCCA National meeting then took place at the new Daytona road circuit on November 15, where Alan Connell's Ferrari 335S beat Hansgen and Crawford into second and third.

    Three more major American races remained to the Cunningham team Lister-Jaguars in 1960 although their pre-eminence was by that time being usurped by Briggs's latest acquisition – the Maserati Tipo 61 'Birdcage' in which Hansgen won at Bridgehampton on May 29, 1960, while John Fitch and Briggs Cunningham in team Listers finished fifth and ninth. One Cunningham Lister-Jaguar failed to finish the Road America '500' shared by Briggs/Ed Hugus/Phil Forno, and at Watkins Glen on September 24, Hugus took sixth place in the Cunningham Lister-Jaguar's swansong.

    At some point during the Cunningham team's tenure of 'EE 101' offered here it is apparent that its original 'long bonnet' bodywork was replaced by the more practical alternative of fixed-scuttle, 'short bonnet' bodywork. This style had been adopted by the Cambridge factory for its later-number production and works team cars in the UK and Europe. Another modification made by the Momo Corporation saw the original 'helmet'-style front wing or fender line modified into a more sweeping form. This was a modification originated by Ecurie Ecosse to kill front-end aerodynamic lift on their production car – 'BHL 104' – as driven by American Masten Gregory.

    Cunningham later retained this car into the mid-1960s. Prominent American driver/collector Herb Wetson subsequently bought it direct from Briggs Cunningham - whom he regards still as a personal hero - together with one of the team's 1963-season Lightweight E-Type Jaguars. They cost S15,000 for the pair. Herb Wetson raced the E-Type but not the Lister, before selling it to British driver/dealer Chris Drake in the early 1970s, who recalled: "Wetson took us into a kind of orchard area behind his house where we found a jumble of D-Type bits, monocoques and body panels, and he also had the Lister-Jaguar and a Ferrari Testa Rossa, side-by-side. The Lister was priced at £2,225 and the Ferrari £2,500...and I bought the Lister because it had a dry-sump engine and the Ferrari was wet-sump, which I didn't think was right..."

    Chris Drake then raced '101' offered here quite extensively in Historic events in the very early 1970s, before subsequently selling it to David Preece. It was later acquired around 1981-82 by enthusiast/collector/driver Roger Williams of Wilhire company fame. He had the car partially rebodied with a remade bonnet but retained its still unmistakably original tail body section. He also had the cockpit rear bulkhead re-shaped to provide improved driver support within the seat.

    From Mr Williams the car passed subsequently to its most recent owner, for whom it has been part restored and recommissioned over the past five years by Jacob Engineering of Gloucester. The car was completely stripped down to its bare chassis. The frame itself was not blast-cleaned since it was considered in good order, corrosion free and with exsisting floor trays in good order. Minor cosmetic work reversed a few modifications and the chassis was then repainted in its original colour. The dashboard was returned as far as possible to its original 1958 configuration before the decision to sell curtailed such work. The work carried out sought to achieve a 'refreshed' rather than 'new look' appearance. The car's complete brake system was restored to include the original Girling racing calipers, the Dunlop wheels were crack tested, finally prepared and polished and new Dunlop Racing tyres were fitted for the car's last International appearance at Spa-Francorchamps, 2008. As offered here the car is fitted with a wide-angle head, dry-sump engine driving via a 4.2-litre E-Type four-speed synchro gearbox to a Crosthwaite & Gardiner-cased back axle.

    Amongst the numerous original Cunningham team features still preserved within this Lister-Jaguar are the special and now very rare Le Mans 24-Hour type Lucas headlights with quick-bulb-change detachable 'buckets' inside the bonnet panelling, and quick-pad-change brake calipers mounted inboard on the final-drive cheeks at the rear. One can picture such items having been drawn direct from the Momo Corporation's extensive stores in America as the car was originally prepared for such long events as the Sebring 12-Hours and Road America 500-Miles.

    If one judges a car against the contemporary company it kept as new, this first prototype 'Knobbly' Lister-Jaguar's record of outstanding success highlights the extraordinary contemporary stature of these Cunningham team Lister-Jaguars – which regularly competed wheel-to-wheel against 4-cam Ferrari V12s, Aston Martin DBR2, the works Scarabs, Maserati 'Birdcage' and Porsche RSKs...and which achieved for Walt Hansgen outstanding status as SCCA National Champion. The car is offered with HTP Papers. A report of the car is available to view by marque specialist Chris Keith-Lucas of CKL Developments.

Saleroom notices

  • The ownership-trail of this Lister-Jaguar has been verified since our catalogue closed for press. Briggs Cunningham retained the car after its period replacement by his Maserati 'Birdcage' cars and his famous series of E-Type Jaguars. He finally sold it with one of the Lightweight E-Types to Herb Wetson who later sold it on to Chris Drake. Its subsequent provenance then reads Drake - David Preece - Roger Williams - current vendor. Therefore, the car has continuous history from new. Since our catalogue went to press, new photographic confirmation from the early 1970s has been found, verifying that this fine Lister-Jaguar is structurally as imported from Herb Wetson in the USA; Herb Wetson having kept it unused since he bought it direct from Briggs Cunningham.
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