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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1957 - 1958
Numbers built:17 (Both styles, with Chevrolet engine)
Designed by:Brian Lister
Successor:Lister Costin Chevrolet
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 12, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLike many of his contemporaries, Brian Lister entered racing with a machine of his own creation. Son of a wealthy industrialist, he first raced a MG engined Cooper chassis in 1951. This was soon replaced by a Tojeiro chassis with an air-cooled JAP motorcycle engine. It immediately impressed and Lister seriously considered marketing the racer, although several bugs still needed to be ironed out. During one of the races in the Tojeiro-JAP, he was nearly beaten by a young Archie Scott Brown in a much slower MG TD. This was even more remarkably considering the serious birth defects the Scotsman suffered, which left him with only one fully functional hand. Lister quickly realised that his business could move ahead quicker if he concentrated on building the cars and having Scott Brown race them. He in turn jumped at the opportunity to have his tired MG replaced by a state of the art racer and a lengthy partnership was forged.

In 1952 and 1953 Scott Brown successfully campaigned the unusual Tojeiro-JAP, frequently beating more powerful competition. This bought Lister some time to turn his ideas for a brand new racing car into metal. He had received in-house engineering training in his family business, but had little experience in designing racing cars. So it was not surprising that his first go at it was utterly conventional with a basic ladder frame made up of two large tubular members. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front and a DeDion axle at the rear. The relatively high unsprung weight of the DeDion axle was compensated by moving the rear brakes inboard. An MG engine was fitted and the rolling chassis was covered by a Brian Lister designed bodywork. He later admitted that he concentrated on keeping the frontal area as small as possible and all but ignored aerodynamics as he knew little about it anyway.

The Lister MG debuted late in 1953, but faced strong competition in its class from Lotus. Some extensive engine tuning by expert Don Moore made the car considerably more competitive. All looked well for 1954, when all of a sudden Scott Brown's competition license was withdrawn at the eve of the prestigious British Empire Trophy because of his disability. Universal protest followed and five weeks later his license was reinstated, but it would not be the last dispute the talented racer would have. Not much later the MG engine was replaced by a more powerful Bristol two litre straight six, which debuted victoriously at Silverstone, beating the more potent Jaguar C-Types. Scott Brown continued to impress on the British Isles, but he was refused an international license and for example could not take part in a Formula 1 race at Monza with Connaught. There was one F1 entry in the British Grand Prix, where he set the fastest lap, but his future lay in sports cars.

In 1955 and 1956 Lister experimented with various engines and also seriously considered Formula 2 racing. At the end of the year, Jaguar's retirement from international racing meant a turn for the better for Lister as the highly potent D-Type engines would become available for customers. The chassis was adapted to accept the Jaguar engine and a now legendary Lister Jaguar combination was born. Now matching the competition's power, the works Lister was easily the quickest car of the 1957 season and Scott Brown won eleven of the fourteen races he contested in, often humiliating factory machines like the new Aston Martin DBR1s and DBR2s. Understandably this success grabbed the attention of potential customers and Lister started with the production of privateer cars. To cope with the added power the chassis tubes were of a slightly wider diameter, but other than that little changed to the initial design drawn up in 1953.

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  Article Image gallery (88) Chassis (3) Specifications