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1959 Lister Costin:  GBP 600,000 | Asking


By the tail-end of the 1950s, the Lister ‘Knobbly’—a lauded rival to Jaguar’s D-type—was beginning to look rather long in the tooth. To maintain the firm’s competitive edge, Brian Lister turned to aerodynamicist Frank Costin, who penned an organic, slippery body that took full advantage of the latest developments in the field. Utilising the same chassis, dressed in brand-new all-aluminium coachwork, the 1959 Lister Costin could not have looked more different than the Knobbly of the previous season.

Just 14 Lister Costins were built, and this example, chassis number BHL 135, was the final car produced. Like the few others made towards the end of production, chassis BHL 135 left the factory without an engine before being shipped to its new life in the United States.

Based on the engine mounts, it is believed that the car was initially intended to be powered by a Maserati engine, though it is more likely that a Chevrolet V-8 was fitted instead. The bonnet, which was modified to allow fitment of the American powerplant, now features a unique riveted centre section.

While the overwhelming majority of these cars were purchased with the intention of racing, it is fascinating that there is no evidence of this Lister Costin competing in the US in the period. The car’s easy life away from the track likely contributed to its current level of preservation. However, there is evidence of modification to the front wheel arches, which would have made the machine a more manageable drive on the road.

Following its life in North America, the Lister returned to John Pearson in the UK in 1987 and was found to be remarkably original, missing only its rear bodywork. Pearson Engineering later fitted a Jaguar 3.8-litre straight-six, a popular option both in period and for historic racing.

A visual inspection undertaken by Chris Keith-Lucas at CKL Developments in 2012 found that the car exhibited the key signifying features of an original Lister chassis in terms of both chassis stamping font and location, style of frame welding, among other identifiers.

Furthermore, CKL Developments found that the bonnet, doors, and sills were likely original. To preserve the factory bonnet replica was made by Bodylines using advanced 3D scans of the car carried out by A2P2 Specialist Reverse Engineering, which also made it possible to replace any bodywork sections in the event of damage. These scans, the body buck used to make the replacement bonnet, and the original bonnet is all included in the sale.

After being acquired by the consignor in 2012, the car became a frequent competitor at historic racing events in the UK and Europe. It has been maintained exclusively by Pearson Engineering. One of the highlights of its career was the Algarve Classic Festival at Portimaõ in 2019, where the car was driven by Richard Kent and Chris Ward, who lapped the circuit one second faster than he’d ever managed in any other Lister.

That same year, the car won the Stirling Moss Trophy Championship with Motor Racing Legends. Over the years, this great racer remained a regular front runner at Goodwood, at both the Revival and the Members’ Meeting and has either raced at or is eligible for a variety of events, including the Le Mans Classic, Spa Six Hours, Silverstone Classic, and Donington Historic Festival.

Fully race-prepared ahead of the 2020 campaign, the Lister was fully crack tested, and the car was issued new HTP papers in July 2022. Unfortunately, it never got the chance to compete during that truncated season, though it did play a starring role in the September 2021 issue of Motor Sport magazine.

Respected journalist, Andrew Frankel, summed up the car beautifully: Hooked up, this Lister is a pure animal. The engine is tractable enough, but if you want to make the most from its top-end-heavy powerband and gear ratios, you need to use all 6,500 rpm, at which point, in third gear, the car is ripping the scenery towards you.

Highly eligible and with a proven record of success at some of the world’s most important historic race meetings, BHL 135 would be a spectacular car to own and enjoy through the 2023 season and beyond.

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