A couple of months ago I saw an intriguing & unique sports car. First I saw it at the Pearsall Divisional autocross event on 6/8/08, then later at a SASCA autocross on 6/22/08 & most recently at the SPOKES autocross at San Antonio Raceway on 7/13/08. It was at this last venue that I actually approached Bob, the owner of this pristine Lister replica.
Besides the overall grand presence of the car, one notices a distinct accessory on the passenger side of the dash; it’s an “Oh Sh!t” handle. Click the picture to see the engraving close-up. What a conversation starter…
In talking to Bob, while taking pictures, I realized there was a lot more to the story of this car than Bob was letting on. I was able to exchange e-mail addresses, telling him I would post about his car & its story here on the blog. That was 6 weeks ago, and I am FINALLY getting to this.
Let me explain. Bob is a self-described Lister fanatic. He e-mailed me a wonderful history of Lister & then how he became the current owner of this Lister replica. He sent me a solid 4 pages of very interesting details. My quandary has been to figure out what to include for this posting and what to keep out. I thought about including all of it, but I don’t think it would be fully appreciated by this blog’s audience. If I’m thinking incorrectly, then by all means, tell me so in the comments & I’ll post more of the history part.
Here’s Bob story, edited for brevity & put in the 3rd person.
In the early ’90’s, Californian Chuck Beck determined to build a Lister replica. He eventually got his hands on an original Lister long enough to make a mold from the body, then designed and built his own frame in a semi-monocoque, using a Corvette C4 suspension. Bob saw an article about this in the “Sports Car International” magazine in 1996 and vowed to have a Beck Lister of his own. He also visited Chuck at his home/workshop in California. On Bob’s second visit he was taken for an eye-opening blast in Chuck’s demo Lister, cementing his desire.
Bob scanned the Internet & finally hit pay dirt in 2000 seeing an ad simply titled “Cobra killer”. Reading on, he realized the ad was for an unfinished Beck Lister. With nervous anticipation, Bob called the seller, a man on the East Coast who was a former Porsche factory racing team crew chief. This person had bought the car from Beck, shipped it east, and tore the car apart down to the last nut and bolt. He then replaced all the hardware with race-spec items, changed out hinges and latches he deemed inadequate, braced the windshield and other mounting points, and basically reengineered the car. While he acquired bits and pieces he paid a small fortune to prep and paint the car in a dark blue BMW color. The car then went to a Jaguar restorer where the interior was completed using Wilton Wool carpet, such as used in the Rolls Royce marque.
Predictably, it took a few years to get the car running (these cars are never really “finished”). It had to have a complete wiring harness installed, all brake lines fabricated and run, the cooling system created, the drivetrain installed, seats and belts mounted, gauges located and installed, driveshaft fabricated, etc. and so on. All of it took place in Bob’s garage, done by his own clumsy hands (with the great help and oversight of a mechanically-gifted friend – thanks to Eddie). Bob spent many, many late nights in the shop, leaving blood smears all over the car. He got to know the telephone order-takers at Jeg’s and Summit by first name, and generally had a lot of fun. The receptionists at his office had a running joke about the sheer volume of boxed car parts that seemed to come by UPS on a daily basis.
Finally in mid-2003 the moment arrived, and Bob got to hear the engine run for the first time. A shakedown run around the block followed, and the de-bugging process began, a process that has slowed greatly, but to some extent continues today. Driving the car to work–a 100-mile commute involving lots of traffic–was nerve-racking the first time, but the car never let Bob down and proved itself by staying cool even on a 100-degree day in a traffic jam.
The engine–a 404 ci all-alloy Rodeck Chevy, with Edelbrock Victor Jr. alloy heads and intake, hydraulic roller cam, gear drive, and MSD ignition–puts a little over 400 hp to the rear wheels per a local dyno. The car weighs just under 2,000 pounds with a half-tank of gas. The transmission is a Muncie M-22 “rock crusher” 4-speed, and the clutch and alloy flywheel are by Spec. Even with a “tall” 3.07 rear gear, the car accelerates like a rocket. A similar car won several One Lap of America events a few years ago and placed third in a “Supertuners” article in Car and Driver.
Bob intended to compete with his Lister all along, and installed a roll cage, 5-point belts, etc., when he built it. After autocrossing in another car in July 2007, Bob was quickly hooked and the Lister made its debut at the December ’07 SASCA autocross. The temperature when he left the house that morning was around 20 degrees. That’s plenty cold in an open car with no top, windows, or heater, particularly on the freeway at 70 mph! The car cools so well that, on that morning, the temperature gauge needle dropped “off the peg” at highway speeds.
Bob has missed only one SASCA event with the car since that time (dead fuel pump–proof about the de-bugging never being finished), and it has acquitted itself well. It’s more car than Bob is a driver, and it’s been a steep learning curve. He is hoping to get it on a proper race track sometime soon, if he can find one where noise regulations are not an issue. Handling is very predictable although quick hands are required to deal with the power and torque. Even on autocross slicks, the car is so light that it’s hard to get the tires up to temperature. Traction is accordingly a challenge, and every run is an adventure. All in all, Bob couldn’t be happier with the end result and he feels SO fortunate to have come across this car when he could take advantage of it. Bob loves autocrossing and has made many new friends in the last year. He is also more confident in his driving skills and has no problem ignoring “invites” by street racers, no matter what he’s driving.
To Bob’s knowledge there are perhaps 30 or 40 Lister replicas out there. Beck sold the rights to Avanti Motorcars a few years ago, and Bob believes they have since been sold again. He has heard that Chuck may be interested in reacquiring the rights so perhaps the car will eventually come full-circle.
On our next meeting, I will ask Bob for the honor of a ride-long. I’m hoping that it won’t require me to do a non-Racing Ready thing & grab that “Oh Sh!t” handle!