The 208mph, 666hp Lister Thunder might be grabbing the new car headlines, but there’s more to Cambridgeshire-based Lister than a lightning-quick Jaguar F-Type. Last weekend, Historics at Brooklands went all ‘Blue Peter’, presenting a trio of cars Lister made earlier.
They formed part of a collection included in a deceased estate, and while one of the three cars failed to meet its reserve, we couldn’t help but take a retrospective look at these auction heroes
Lister Jaguar XJS Le Mans
Following success in the 1950s and early 60s, the Lister name made a dramatic return in 1986, with the birth of Lister Cars Ltd. Based in Leatherhead, and with Laurence Pearce at the helm, Lister created the wildest and most outlandish XJS you’re ever likely to see.
Named ‘Le Mans’ in honour of Jaguar’s racing success in the late 80s, Lister took the XJS into uncharted waters, giving it power and performance to rub shoulders with the supercar elite. The figures are astonishing, even today, with the 7.0-litre Lister producing 600hp and 600lb ft of torque.
It meant that the Le Mans could hit a reported 200mph, sprinting to 60mph in just 3.8 seconds. While the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 held universal appeal – not to mention shelf space in Athena – the Le Mans was the choice of the more informed kid. Take a bow if you had this steroid-enriched XJS on your bedroom wall as a child.
You couldn’t describe the styling as tasteful, and indeed, some aspects of the exterior shouldn’t work. But as an overall package, the car is disarmingly brutal, almost unrecognisable from the Doug Thorpe original of 1975.
On the inside, Lister created a high-class cabin, swathed almost entirely in leather, broken only by elements of wood, as if to tip a hat to its Jaguar heritage. Subtle, it most certainly wasn’t, but you could never accuse Lister of doing things by halves.
Historics at Brooklands described the auction car as “surely the best example in existence anywhere”, having been in the same family since new, with a mere 3,354 miles on the clock. It sailed past its pre-auction estimate, selling for £88,480.
Lister Jaguar XJ12
They don’t make ‘em like wot they used to, son. Alongside the Lister Jaguar XJ12, the new Lister Thunder would look more like a forecast for gusty winds and some light drizzle than a raging thunderstorm. Stick this outside a nightclub, and nobody is coming in. No bouncers required.
Lister took the standard XJ12 and offered a comprehensive range of upgrades to wannabe Arthur Daley types in need of a little more menace. Customers could select from a variety of options, including an engine upgrade (£28,350), Brembo brakes (£7,645), retrimmed front seats (£3,950), body kit (£6,035) and 18-inch alloy wheels (£5,888).
The original owner went all in, spending nearly £70,000 on Lister upgrades, on top of the actual cost of the car. Little wonder, then, that the Lister XJ12 blitzed its pre-auction estimate of £30,000 – £40,000, selling for £40 short of £65,000.
Lister Cars tweeted that the price makes it the most expensive used XJ40 or X300 ever sold at auction.
— Lister (@ListerCars) May 20, 2018
Arguably the most famous of the modern Listers, and yet this Storm failed to meet its reserve. One of only three road-going Storms in the world, this 1994 car had a pre-auction estimate of £145,000 – £165,000, but failed to sell, despite “strong presale interest and commission bids”, according to a Historics at Brooklands spokesperson.
Built for homologation purposes, the Storm was powered by the largest V12 engine fitted to a production car since World War II, which enabled it to hit 60mph from rest in just 4.1 seconds, before going on to a top speed of 208mph. At the time, it was the fastest four-seater road car in the world.
Hampered by a high price tag of £220,000, only four road-legal Storms were built, before the 600hp supercar was left to pursue a career in motorsport, winning the FIA GT Championship in 2000.
Before the auction, Historics claimed that the Thunder could renew interest in the Storm, so why did it fail to sell? After all, these rarely come up for sale at auction. Well, maybe wealthy car collectors are more prepared to drop £139,950 on the F-Type based supercar than a 25-year-old classic.
Lister received £3.1 million worth of orders within 24 hours of the Thunder going on sale, which works out at 22 cars. That’s nearly a quarter of the 99 examples planned – pretty good for a low-volume car company.
At the time, CEO Lawrence Whittaker said: “I am delighted, overwhelmed and gratified by the huge level of interest and excitement the Thunder has already generated. Following the release of the Thunder prototype, the number of phone calls and email enquiries have been bonkers. Securing over £3 million-worth of orders within the first 24 hours is a company record.”
If you’re not prepared to wait for the Thunder roll-out, you should contact Historics at Brooklands to check on the availability of the Storm. Dare we suggest that Leatherhead has the edge over Cambridgeshire when it comes to 600hp+ Lister monsters? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.