1959 Lister Costin Jaguar Sports Racer

In 1957, Brian Lister built his first Jaguar-powered sports racer, with which he achieved outstanding racing victories with the brilliant one-armed driver Archie Scott Brown. During this time, Lister’s sponsor, British Petroleum, was seeking a team of large-displacement sports racing cars to rival Aston Martin and Ecurie Ecosse Jaguars, both of whom were sponsored by Esso.

Lister seemed the obvious choice, and the first production “Knobbly” Lister Jaguar, so named for its unusual but effective body shape, debuted in 1958. The first two cars went to Briggs Cunningham to complement and, eventually, replace his older Jaguar D-type team cars.

At the beginning of 1959, Lister initiated a restyling of the already efficient Knobbly bodywork. Famed de Havilland aeronautical engineer Frank Costin was enlisted and began by revising the irregular formation of the Knobbly. Costin succeeded admirably in smoothing the coachwork but, surprisingly, the sleeker bodywork was less aerodynamic. Nevertheless, nine Costin Listers were built, two with Jaguar power and seven with Chevrolet V8 engines.

BHL123 is arguably the most historically important of all the Listers. Originally purchased by Briggs Cunningham and prepared by chief mechanic Alfred Momo, BHL123’s first competition outing was the 12 Hours of Sebring race in 1959 with Walt Hansgen at the wheel. BHL123 became the one to beat, and Hansgen drove the race car to four 1st place finishes at Virginia International Raceway, the Cumberland International races in Maryland, Bridgehampton Race Circuit, and Watkins Glen. Hansgen also achieved 2nd and 4th place finishes, capturing the 1959 SCCA C-Modified National Championship.

BHL123 has regularly challenged and frequently bested Ferrari Testa Rossas, Jaguar D-types, Maserati 300s, Aston Martins, and Devin Chevys at the Monterey Historic Races. BHL123 offers an exciting and authentic late 1950s driving experience with all the sights, sounds, and sensations of open-cockpit sports racing at speed.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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