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In the world of ’50s motor racing, few names are as evocative as Lister – and now the first-ever car to bear that famous moniker is for sale.
The 1951 Lister JAP represents the starting point for the make and will be sold by the recently opened Lister Classics.
But don’t expect it to come cheap: as befits a car of this importance, there’s no price tag quoted and viewings are by appointment only.
This Lister JAP was designed and built by famed engineer John Tojeiro, the man who would go on to create the AC Ace.
Tojeiro was a customer of the Cambridge engineering firm George Lister & Sons, and when Brian Lister – one of George’s sons – saw the diminutive two-seater, he decided to buy it.
An 1100cc JAP V-Twin was duly installed – hence the name – together with a Jowett Jupiter manual ’box.
Other tweaks followed before the car was stamped with chassis number ‘BHL 1’ – Brian Horace Lister – making this the first car with a chassis plate bearing the Lister name, as well as the first car christened ‘Lister’.
Campaigned with success on hillclimbs and sprints, its engine was later tuned by Don Moore. Then, with the noted driver Archie Scott Brown behind the wheel, it began racking up race wins in the early ’50s.
With the team’s renown growing quickly, the JAP was sold as Lister and Scott Brown concentrated on building Lister as a brand in its own right; huge success in the D-type-engined Lister-Jaguars would follow later in the decade.
The JAP continued to be raced throughout the decade, but then disappeared, seemingly forever.
Fortunately, in 2009 it was rediscovered in a barn in need of some serious TLC which, as you can see, it has now received.
It’s back in Brian Lister’s original specification, with a JAP 1100cc engine and Jowett gearbox, and has since performed well on track – but now it needs a new home.
The fact that it’s eligible for many historic racing series – including Goodwood events – will only increase the desirability of this significant car.
“Every story has an opening chapter, and this car is the very start of The Lister Motor Company,” said Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of The Lister Motor Company.
“This car enabled Brian Lister and Archie Scott Brown to hone their skills as racing-car manufacturers and racing drivers, it showed what they could achieve and spurred them on to create faster and more accomplished racers. The Lister JAP is a piece of motoring history, a true one-of-one car.”
The Lister JAP is on display in the Lister Classics Lancashire showroom, with viewing by appointment only.
Let’s hope its next lucky owner uses it as it was intended, so we can all enjoy seeing it in action at historic race meetings.