Lister Knobbly Ready for the Road

A re-energized racer is lighter in weight, with an aluminium body that takes 500 hours to shape by hand.
16 May, 2017
The Lister name is synonymous with auto racing, particularly the era of the late 1950s.
The Lister Knobbly has never been "street legal" or made available to the public. That's all changed under new Lister owners Andrew and Lawrence Whittaker, who bought the company in 2013 and immediately set about finding a way to connect the legacy of Sir Stirling Moss with an exclusive driving experience for today.

"The idea to make a road-going Lister Knobbly really came about by accident," explains Lawrence Whittaker in a video interview. The car was ordered by a customer who specifically wanted one built that could be enjoyed on a day-to-day basis. "The customer wanted to drive the car around Lake Geneva, so we set out with the customer to make the car road legal," Whittaker added.
The end result is a Lister that joins the ranks of Jaguar, Aston Martin and other legacy brands that are reintroducing beloved vehicles with a storied past for today's market – and with today's materials. In the case of the Lister Knobbly, though, there are plans to build only 10 of the racers for driving on the road.

That project puts craftsmanship at the center, so that the Knobbly is faithful to its heritage while incorporating the latest in innovation. Each car will be powered by a 3.8 liter, original-specification racing engine professionally built around an original period Jaguar engine block, the company says.
That's all linked to an original specification four-speed gearbox, manufactured for Lister by engineers Crosthwaite and Gardiner. It's also a project enthusiastically welcomed by Sir Stirling Moss himself, who is now 87 and was recently hospitalized for months but had a chance to talk about his love of the Lister.

"Go to the original craftsmen who created our cars," Moss said of the Knobbly continuation project. "They're still there." The company has done just that, and is using some of the same techniques, tools and in some cases, even the staff that made Moss and the original Knobbly winners a full 60 years ago.

This isn't "a half-hearted replica," as one reviewer put it, and the starting price for a new Knobbly is £225,000. Yet despite the original-spec engine and transmission, it still yields an impressive 330bhp – enough to power the 787kg Knobbly to 291 kph and accelerate from 0-97mph in just 4.3 seconds.
Designers and engineers have based the car on a tubular and carefully tested chassis that's made from seamless engineering tube using the original jigs. The aluminium body panels alone take around 500 hours to beat into the Knobbly's distinctive shape, and employees are doing all of that work by hand.

Yet this Knobbly is not without its modern creature comforts, and the details that made it possible for Lister to get the vehicle approved to meet current environmental and highway regulations. Among them are a collapsible steering column and rollover protection, along with a padded leather dashboard. Plus, there are a few basic things – like brake fluid or fuel level warning lights – that didn't exist decades ago.

So far, the company has built one of the vehicles with the rest planned for production in September 2017. Delivery of the very special road-ready Knobbly is set for June 2018.
Banner image: New Altas