Beginning in 1954, company manager and racing driver Brian Lister brought out the first in a series of sports cars from a Cambridge iron works. Inspired by Cooper, he used a tubular ladder chassis, de Dion rear axle, and inboard drum brakes. Like others, he used a tuned MG engine and stock gearbox,. It made its debut at the British Empire Trophy at Oulton Park in 1954, with former MG pilot Archie Scott Brown at the wheel. Later, Lister swapped in a Moore-tuned Bristol two-litre engine and knockoff wire wheels in place of the MG's discs to improve performance. For the sports car race supporting the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Scott Brown won the two-litre class and placed fifth overall behind only works Aston Martins.
In 1955, a handful of Lister-Bristols were built with a new body built by an ex-Bristol employee with the aid of a wind tunnel. Despite its new fins and strakes, it was less successful than the original Lister-Bristol of 1954. Lister moved up to a six-cylinder motor from a Formula 2 Maserati A6GCS for their own car, while customers continued to receive the Bristol motor, sold for ₤3900. Lister also attempted single-seater racing with a multi-tube chassis powered by a Coventry-Climax motor and using an MG gearbox, but the car was a failure.
For 1957, Lister redesigned the car around a 3.4 liter Jaguar D-type XK inline-six, with an aerodynamic aluminum body; it was tested by racing journalist John Bolster, performing a 0–100 mph (0–160 km/h) run in 11.2 seconds. Driver Archie Scott Brown won the 1957 British Empire Trophy in the new Lister-Jaguar. Refined again in 1958, the Lister-Jaguar entered international competitions. Brown was killed that season when he crashed the Lister-Jaguar at Spa-Francorchamps. Lister also developed another single-seater car based on the Lister-Jaguar, for use in the unique Race of Two Worlds at Monza. Cars from this era are affectionately known as the "Lister Knobbly" cars, due to their curved bodywork.
For 1959, Lister hired aerodynamicist Frank Costin, who produced entirely new bodywork built around a new Chevrolet Corvette powerplant. However, the front-engine layout of the new Lister-Chevrolet was quickly eclipsed by the rear-engine layout of the new Cooper sports car. By the end of 1959, Lister withdrew from competition, although production of sports cars continued for customers.
This particular car, BHL2, one of no less than three works cars built by Lister using the BHL2 chassis number, started life in 1958 as a Lister-Jaguar “Knobbly” factory race car using registration number MVE 303 and was raced by none other than Stirling Moss, Wolfgang Seidel and Ivor Bueb with great success in the 1958 season, including a number of wins. This was the only works car to survive 1958-59 with the original magnesium paneled body. It was sold to a man named Jim Diggory at the end of the year, re-registered as TUN 708 and then to other owners, one of which who subsequently crashed the car on a public road. Although the car was apparently damaged significantly, many of the remaining parts were sold, over a period of time, to John Pearson, a well-known restorer of Jaguar and Jaguar-powered cars in the UK. He proceeded to rebuild the car, using a combination of the remaining original parts and new parts made by established craftsman in the local area. The rebuilt car was then sold to Steve O’Rourke, manager of the famously popular band, Pink Floyd in 1989. O’Rourke retained the TUN 708 registration and raced it extensively in Historic events for many years until 2003, when it was sold to the American collector Nick Colonna. The current owner purchased the car from Colonna and also raced it extensively in Historic events throughout the US and Canada, including multiple times in the Monterey Historics. He has spent well over $200K on the maintenance and upgrades to this historic machine, adding safety features and making sure the car was always race-ready, as it is today. This unique car, while tied to the past history of Brian Lister and names like Stirling Moss, is a race-ready, competitive Historic racing car and is perfect for gentleman racers worldwide. It has FIA papers, many historic photos and has been prepared and maintained by Intrepid Motorcars of Sparks, Nevada for over 10 years and is ready to go racing once again. This will complete any collection of rare British race cars that can be very competitive in events like the Goodwood Revival and the Rolex Reunion.