283ci Chevrolet V8 Engine
Rochester Fuel Injection
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Independent Front Suspension, de Dion Rear Axle with Coil Springs
4-Wheel Girling Disc Brakes
*The most original Lister in existence
*A historical document that has been preserved untouched
*A true investment-grade car for the connoisseur
*Sensational Chevy V8 performance in a light frame
*Documented in Doug Nye's book Powered by Jaguar
The 'Knobbly' Lister-Chevrolet
It was in February, 1958, that Cunningham-bound Lister-Jaguar 'BHL 101' was first shown to the British motoring press at Cambridge immediately upon completion. Its muscle-bound new body form created an instant sensation – and 'The Knobbly Lister' had been born...
Brian Lister had styled this entirely distinctive body form to weave its way brilliantly through FIA 'Appendix C' screen-height regulations and to minimize frontal area despite the considerable height of the model's primary power unit – the iron-block twin-overhead camshaft 6-cylinder Jaguar XK engine. The new design's nose bonnet section featured deeply scalloped valleys between the front-wheel fenders and a central hump enclosing the engine. At its rear end this cam-box clearance hump fell away sharply to a low-level scuttle, from which the windscreen Perspex then rose to the required regulation height – being measured (most significantly) from well below overall engine height. The rear body section deck was then level with the top of the windscreen, with flaring rear wings enclosing the wheels and a shapely headrest behind the driver.
Brian Lister had drawn this body shape in elevation and section, before presenting his drawings to Cavendish Morton who produced an artist's impression perspective painting. This was put out as a 'taster' to the press before the first car was built. The aluminium body panels for the production run of cars were then formed by Williams & Pritchard in Edmonton, North London. Len Pritchard had wartime aircraft industry experience of forming lightweight magnesium-alloy panels and he suggested to Brian Lister that panels in magnesium instead of aluminium could save half the weight...despite doubling the price! Brian Lister then offered 'Knobbly' bodies in aluminium or magnesium-alloy to customer choice.
The small-block Chevrolet V8 engine became an immediate option for the Lister chassis and its 'Knobbly' bodywork, promoted most enthusiastically by Carroll Shelby and Jim Hall in Texas, and taken up as a Jaguar alternative by Alfred Momo, Cunningham and other American customers and distributors.
The Motorcar Offered
Here we are delighted to offer one of the most important of all surviving 'Knobbly' Lister-Chevrolet sports-racing cars. It is not one with any competition history, nor is it a car which was campaigned long and hard by the great and the good. Instead it is a barely used, un-raced time machine – a car upon which the fingerprints of its original manufacturers could still survive. It is a car which has been stored virtually since new in the ownership of a contemplative owner, Stanton Hallinan of New Hampshire, who had wonderful taste in the cars he acquired; little apparent ambition ever to use them very much, yet the mechanical knowledge and sympathy to preserve them in remarkably good order considering their minimal use.
This unique Lister-Chevrolet was supplied new to accept a Chevrolet V8 engine within the American market. It was manufactured at the Abbey Road, Cambridge, factory of Brian Lister (Light Engineering) Limited. While it originated in the ancient old British university city, it was intended to fulfill an original order from American entrant Mrs Henry Clark Boden IV. She was a member of the immensely wealthy du Pont family, having been born in Delaware in 1907 as Marguerite du Pont de Villiers-Ortiz. She enjoyed many sports as an enthusiastic sponsor and while she ran race horses on the American turf she also enjoyed fast cars. Her thoroughbred bay gelding 'Kelso' was a great-grandson of the illustrious 'Man o' War' and became even more famous. The horse raced for some eight seasons and earned more top honors than any other American race horse. Born in 1957 in Maryland, he won 39 races, and even had his own fan club. Upon her second marriage Mme du Pont became Mrs Henry Clark Boden IV. She had a child named Kip Kelso Boden and founded her Kelso motor racing team in 1957, running an ex-Bill Lloyd Maserati 300S, while her Kelso Autodynamics company – based at 1205 King Street, Wilmington, Delaware, held a Jaguar agency in addition to becoming one of the Lister company's four US distributors in 1958-59.
Dana Freeman was office manager of Lister's other East Coast distributorship, Auto Engineering of Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts and he recalled how in 1958, Mrs Clark Boden had flown in to collect a brand-new Lister-Chevrolet which they had been able to obtain quickly to satisfy her order from England.
However, Mrs Clark Boden took one look at the brand-new car – commented that it had cast-iron brake calipers fitted instead of the lightweight alloy-bodied type that she had specified, and when she was 'soft-soaped' by a rather patronizing salesman there she reacted volcanically by tearing-up her contract, scattering it like confetti, telling the salesman to keep 'his' car and swept off to the local airport.
She promptly called Carroll Shelby in Dallas, found that he had a Lister-Chevrolet immediately available, and so it was that car – chassis serial 'BHL 114' – which subsequently became famous as her 'Kelso Lister-Chevrolet' or 'The Kelischev'. The almost matte black-liveried car was prepared in her own workshops in Washington DC, at a location known as Foggy Bottom, and the car's nickname – 'The Black Beast of Foggy Bottom' would be inscribed in discreet gold letters on the car's ebony flanks.
This sequence of events left Auto Engineering in Lexington holding Lister-Chevrolet 'BHL 115' as unsold stock. Having lost their demanding original customer to Shelby-Hall in Texas, there was little Auto Engineering could do with the car save advertise and hope. But it remained unsold into 1960, some of the time in store as Dana Freeman recalled: "The mechanics found it a handy place to sit in and eat their lunches". Nothing ages so rapidly as last year's obsolescent racing car...
However, one face became familiar at Auto Engineering, always looking at the car, and evidently interested in the possibility of it ever becoming affordable for him. This was 27-year-old Stan Hallinan who eventually agreed to purchase 'BHL 115' for $5,000, the date of his purchase being recorded as January 18th, 1962. He subsequently used the car very sparingly, only for very minor timed tests and gymkhana-type competitive events, as at Norwich, Maine and Clairmont airports, and occasionally – as Mr Hallinan would lightheartedly recall – for some diverting, mainly nocturnal, motoring on the public roads of New England.
Dana Freeman recalls that due to import tax and Customs Duty implications, his work in arranging delivery of the car from Lister in England had been a particularly complicated and time-consuming process. Auto Engineering had eventually sourced a 283 cubic-inch Chevrolet V8 engine for it from the Momo Corporation – Alfred Momo being racing manager and technical director of the renowned Briggs Cunningham Racing Team which had dominated the US Road Racing Championship with Walt Hansgen and Ed Crawford driving its dominant Lister-Jaguars and Lister-Chevrolet. Briggs Cunningham had also taken a quasi-works team of Chevrolet Corvettes to the Le Mans 24-Hour race in 1960, and the engine eventually fitted to 'BHL 115' is recalled as having been a spare power unit prepared in period for that campaign.
Mr Freeman recalls that the car had to be returned to the Lister works in Cambridge, England, for the Chevrolet V8 engine to be fitted there. It was then taken to Silverstone for a brief shake-down test, after which the power unit was removed and car and engine then shipped back separately to the US to qualify for the most advantageous tax and duty rates.
While Stan Hallinan was content thereafter to preserve his Lister-Chevrolet in dry storage on one of his properties, he encountered near-disaster one winter when he found that frost had split this original engine's block. He reacted energetically by having the power unit speedily rebuilt with its original Chevrolet Engineering internals being re-assembled into a new original-type block. The original Chevrolet V8, though disassembled, was retained and accompanies the car today. Thereafter this remarkable 'time machine' motor car slumbered on...being retained in almost completely original condition – even down to its original-equipment Dunlop Racing front tires.
The Lister retains full road equipment, including a handbrake, horn, spare tire, top frame, plexi side windows, mufflers, and lighting equipment – the original Lucas "Le Mans 24" headlamp lenses still in their place. A May 1963 Department of Motor Vehicles Inspection sticker is still present in the windshield. Mr Hallinan did take it out to one Lister reunion event at Lime Rock in 1992. The event was attended by original constructor Brian Lister who expressed amazement at "...absolutely the most amazing time-warp car I have ever seen...!". He found it doubly amazing that he could recognize much of the typical signature handiwork of his small team of long-faithful British craftsman employees.
Over the years many classic car and vintage racing enthusiasts beat a path to Stan Hallinan's door to inquire about his long-preserved quality cars with such minimal mileage and effectively zero wear and tear. Mr Hallinan was an affable host to a select few and certainly enjoyed discussing his cars and their qualities with fellow enthusiasts, but he would never sell. After his passing last October they have now come to the market. We at Bonhams are privileged to have been selected to offer this self-described, lifelong, 'gearhead's fabulous preservation pieces for sale to kindred spirits – and as we tenderly wheeled 'BHL 115' out into the light of day the long years simply fell away – and for us the late-1950s and the Golden Age of American road racing was suddenly alive again.
Today these cars play a major role in historic sports car racing throughout both the USA and Europe. As offered here 'BHL 115' survives as a unique historic document for the contemplative collector, while also having self-evident potential as an active historic racing car for a new 'user' owner. One thing is beyond all argument – here we are offering not only the most original, totally unspoiled, of all Lister sports-racing cars. The car is also, arguably, one of the most original and totally unspoiled of all competition cars, of all time. That is a big claim, but it's a big car in so many ways – a big, muscular 'Knobbly' by Lister of England, preserved for posterity over so many long, long decades by Hallinan, of New England.
Lister-Chevrolet 'BHL 115' lives – and after so little use, barely showing her age, she is available right now to meet a new partner.