1959 Lister-Jaguar Costin 'BHL135' - Ready for Le Mans Classic and Goodwood
CHASSIS NUMBER: BHL135
The Lister Costin is the ultimate development in the wonderful 1950s Lister sports-racer story and is one of the most competitive and eligible cars in today’s historic racing scene. Rare, beautiful and fast, it represents one of the greatest eras of sports-racing, when Jaguar, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and Lotus were battling for overall honours at the great European and American circuits. Drivers like Moss, Fangio, Hawthorn, Shelby, Salvadori, Phil and Graham Hill, Gurney, McLaren, Rodriguez, Brabham, Bueb and Hamilton further cementing the era as one of the all-time greats.
The story of the Lister Costin began in 1958 when famed aerodynamicist Frank Costin, who had designed for Lotus and Vanwall, approached Brian Lister with suggested improvements to his ‘knobbly’ cars. The new ideas were designed to keep the Lister team competitive on the international racing stage, with focus on improving the aerodynamics of the Knobbly. Initial ideas were based around a space-frame chassis, but they were soon shelved as the complexity and time constraints became clear. With the 1959 season looming, Costin penned the wonderful teardrop, low-drag, aluminium body to clothe the proven knobbly chassis. Brian Lister was immediately sold on the idea, and for 1959 Lister’s new weapon would be the ‘Costin’.
George Lister Engineering initially built two works cars, to be driven by Ivor Bueb and Peter Blond. Testing took place at Goodwood with Ivor Bueb at the wheel. Bueb soon won the Sussex Trophy in a Lister Costin, while both Bueb and Stirling Moss drove the Costin-bodied cars at Sebring. A Costin was also entered at the Le Mans 24hr race in 1959 with Bruce Halford and Ivor Bueb driving, retiring with engine maladies.
The Costin won many fans including two-time F1 World Champion Jim Clark, who's famously quoted as saying:
“The handling of the car was fabulous. At Gerard’s Bend at Mallory you could set the car up going into the bend hard and get round the corner without touching the steering again. If you wanted to come out tight you just put your boot in it, the tail came round and it was a matter of driving it round on the throttle the whole way. That really taught me quite a bit about racing, particularly about controlling the car by the throttle.”
The Lister Costin we have on offer, chassis BHL135, was the fourteenth and last Lister Costin ever produced and was shipped new from the Lister factory to the USA in 1959. It left the UK engineless, but with features to accept the Maserati 450S V8 engine – the only car to ever leave the factory in this specification. Differences included modified engines mounts and a rivetted bonnet section to allow the taller carburettors of the Maserati V8. Although it is unknown whether the engine was ever installed and tested in the car, when it returned to the UK in 1987 under the guidance of John and Gary Pearson, these unique features were still in place, and the chassis and body still original and undamaged, although missing the tail section. Pearson Engineering restored the car with Jaguar XK power, as per the works cars, and soon the car was racing here in the European historic racing scene.
Since its return to the UK, BHL has been always been run by Pearson Engineering, with racing campaigns all over Europe and regular invites to the great events like Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Revival. Under its current ownership, BHL135 has continued to be highly competitive, a highlight being overall championship victory in the 2019 Stirling Moss Trophy. In the final race of the championship at Portimao, and sharing the car with historic ace Chris Ward, the car made a strong claim for title as the ‘fastest Lister in Europe’ when Ward went a full second quicker than he ever had in any Lister Jaguar round the Portuguese track. They won the race overall too.
In recent months, the car has had a full rebuild for the 2020 season, including a full crack-test and the construction of a new aluminium bonnet to protect the original 1959 item. A truly race-ready car that needs nothing before being entered into the 2020 Revival or 2021 Le Mans Classic. Development of a historic racer is both time-consuming and costly, so stepping into the fastest example with no requirement for improvement is a great luxury.
- Arguably the fastest Lister in Europe
- Original chassis and majority of body, plus spare bonnet
- 2019 Stirling Moss Trophy winner
- Eligible and invited to Goodwood Revival and Le Mans Classic
- The last Lister ever produced
- Unique car