Luxury Car Blog

Lister Knobbly is making a comeback

Sir Stirling Moss drives an original Lister Knobbly.
Image: Lister

Lister Cars, and the Lister Knobbly, now owned by Lawrence Whittaker, is making a comeback decades after it was a big name in motor racing.

According to Mail Online: “The story of Lister’s rebirth began in 2012. Lancashire businessman Lawrence and his father Andrew had travelled down to the home of the firm in Cambridge looking for blueprints after Mr Whittaker Senior bought a 1950s car to restore.”

The car in question was a Lister Knobbly from the 1950s, which Whittaker senior had bought in boxes. Lister made its name in the 1950s, when Brian Lister created his formidable eponymous racing cars on a relative shoestring.

As the Mail remarked,”Lister punched above its weight, competing with the great names in motor racing, including Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Maserati, and famously winning races with the talented disabled driver Archie Scott Brown.”

Knobbly may seem like an unusual name for a car, but its got its name from its low-slung body shape with bumps for the engine and wheels. Although only 50  cars were made between 1954 and 1959, the car was seen in more than 2,000 races.

Brian Lister left car making and racing after Archie Scott Brown’s death in 1958, but the marquee did have a revival in the 1980s, with Lister racing and selling highly-tuned Jaguar XJS-based cars, and its own Storm and LMP cars in the 1990s and 2000s, including at Le Mans.

The Whittakers, who had built up car warranty firm Warranty Wise from a kitchen table enterprise to a multi-million pound business, tracked down Laurence Pearce, who had bought the car company name from Brian Lister and made cars from the 1980s through to the early 2000.

Lawrence Whittaker revealed that reviving Lister wasn’t an easy process:” We really had to negotiate for quite a long time. There were a lot of different Lister companies that we had to buy: Lister Jaguar Ltd, Lister Storm Ltd, Lister LMD Ltd, Lister Heritage Ltd, Brian Lister Light Engineering, which was the oldest company.”

Although it has taken the Whittakers some years to launch their first car, but when they did, they were pleasantly surprised at the response to the car that cost £300,000. “When we released the press release for those cars they sold within two months, every single car,” he said.

The Lister name has also benefited from the fact that Sir Stirling Moss, one of Britain’s most famous racing drivers has said, “this Knobbly is my favourite car I’ve ever driven.” And then he promised to endorse the car.

Now the firm has a new HQ outside Blackburn, Lancashire, and is making new models based on a modification of the Jaguar F-Pace SUV and a tuned convertible Jaguar F-Type. Lister hopes to expand its relationship with Jaguar and bring a British firm to prominence once again.

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