Lister Jaguar 'Knobbly'
The famous ‘Boeing Car’ Lister Jaguar Knobbly, comprehensively documented with extensive racing history and success.
Brian Lister’s company – Brian Lister Light Engineering Co Ltd based in Cambridge, UK unveiled its new in-house designed and manufactured prototype racing car to an excited ‘Autosport’ magazine in 1957. The new sports car chassis typically ran either a Jaguar XK D-type engine or a Chevrolet V8 under the pronounced ‘Knobbly’ body. Famous for its low leading edge resulting in an impressive undulating bonnet tightly wrapping the engine of choice.
A significant part of the Listers mighty rear traction is in thanks to the de Dion rear suspension. This cutting-edge technology was first pioneered by its engine partner, Jaguar. In 1995 the Jaguar factory’s experimental department felt that solid rear axles presented traction limitations. A solution was worked on in 1955 and implemented into XKD604, the first works team D-type constructed in 1956. Brian Lister utilised this new technology, and pushed the engine mounting towards the driver, resulting in a beautifully balanced racing car.
Debuting at Snetterton on 31st March 1957, the first ‘official' Lister-Jaguar took pole position and set fastest lap (though clutch failure denied it victory). The following month, the new car proved itself the class of the field with dominant overall victories at both the British Empire Trophy race (Oulton Park) and the Easter Monday Sussex Trophy race (Goodwood). Capable of showing a clean pair of exhaust pipes to both the ageing Jaguar D-type and new Aston Martin DBR1, the Lister-Jaguar was quite simply a revelation.
The car we are pleased to offer for sale is chassis BHL 128 and was supplied new to Carroll Shelby Sports Cars Inc, Dallas, Texas, 1959. Records state that it was delivered to Shelby as a chassis only to accept American-made Special body and a Chevrolet V8 engine by Brian Lister Ltd. It was fitted with record-attempt aerodynamic bodywork said to have been conceived by an aerodynamic consultancy connected with Boeing Aircraft. The special-bodied car is understood to have been unused in that form (although during its Historic-class career it is often referred to as ‘The Boeing car'). It is believed the BHL 128 participated in a series of experiments aimed at facilitating an attempt on the absolute Land Speed Record. Surviving photos of its supposed ‘Boeing’ bodywork show a high nosed, slab sided and severely Kamm tailed silhouette
The car was retrieved from Florida, USA, and returned to the UK, circa 1971-72. Soon after, the two-seater was sold to noted collector Sir Anthony Bamford (of JCB fame) who in turn is understood to have tasked Geo. Lister & Sons of Cambridge with reconfiguring it as a Jaguar powered ‘Knobbly'. From Bamford it ended up with Bobby Bell of Bell and Colvill in 1975 and was raced very successfully throughout the 1970s and 1980s in the JCB series. It also set the fastest practice time at the 1978 Le Mans Retrospective where it reached a mighty 175 mph on the Mulsanne Straight.
In 1987/88 the ‘Knobbly’ was extensively refurbished by historic racing experts Hall and Fowler and was then sold to renowned car collector Eduardo Baptista of Mexico. It was subsequently purchased by a Mr Nick Linney who campaigned the car extensively during his ownership, taking home numerous victories. The car passed to owner Stephen Gibson in 2004 who cared for BHL 128 until 2010, continuing to race the car around the U.K. and Europe. It was then sold to Jon Minshaw who owned the car for a decade and regularly campaigned the car to victory including the 2014 and 2018 Sussex Trophy at the Goodwood Revival, sharing the car with British racing driver Phil Keen.
The ‘Boeing’ car is seemingly able to boast a more continuous history than many of its siblings and is a very competitive car that would be an automatic invitee to numerous major events around the world. This magnificent Lister comes with an extensive history file detailing its ownership history and race results over the years as well as a selection of period photographs. Contact us now for more information or to arrange a viewing.