In his father’s Cambridge wrought iron shop, George Lister & Sons, Brian Lister started his career in racing car deign in the early 1950s. From an MG platform in 1954, Lister moved on to Bristol engines, squeezed into a low-weight chassis with aerodynamic bodywork. Archie Scott-Brown achieved 5th overall and 1st in class at Silverstone in 1954 in one of these Lister-Bristols, wiping the floor with a string of C-Type Jaguars.
In 1957, Lister fitted a 3.4-litre Jaguar XK engine into his car – and at the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park on 6 April 1957, Scott-Brown’s Lister-Jaguar won the race, ahead of Roy Salvadori’s Aston Martin DBR1.
But one more innovation was needed to create the legendary car we picture here. The new Lister-Jaguar exaggerated the previous car’s bulbous wings and merged them into a massively sloping bonnet that masked the tall XK block. The top of the windscreen’s glass had to be at a certain minimum height above the main bodywork, but Lister cleverly dropped the bodywork on either side of the engine cover, thus dramatically reducing the car’s frontal area and therefore its drag coefficient.
The new car’s body was contracted out to Williams and Pritchard and was available in aluminium or magnesium. The only logical nickname for this totally unprecedented style was “Knobbly”.
Lister Knobblies were raced by the greatest, including Moss and Scott-Brown, and their success led the great privateer Briggs Cunningham to buy and field Knobblies in the States, driven by such top drivers as Walt Hangsen.
A “continuation” Knobbly can still be purchased today from the Lister company – which shows the esteem in which these cars are held by all who know about them.
Photo courtesy of Peter McFadyen. See his website: http://petermcfadyen.co.uk