The Lister Replica Racer

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.

Lister, a lurking first glimpse

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…

Just hold on!

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.

Lister at rest from front corner

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.

Lister at rest from rear corner

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.

Engine compartment peek - behind front suspension

A medical emergency dictated that he put the car up for sale, which is where Bob came in. After a few weeks of negotiations, Bob made a visit to see the car in person. They struck a deal on the spot and after a couple of months, a Passport Transport truck rolled into San Antonio with his precious cargo aboard.

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.

Lister at speed

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 grid with an appreciative passenger

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!

Dan

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15 thoughts on “The Lister Replica Racer”

  1. The Lister Article is great. I would like to know if a Lister Kit or completed car is available these days and from whom?

    Thanks,

    Scott Robertson
    415.250.1801

  2. The Lister is now built by Lucra Cars and is called the LC470. A little different than the Beck Listers with a little more room in the cockpit, higher windscreen, and a bunch more options. Check them out at http://www.lc470.com.

  3. Charles, congratulations on your La Carrera success! For the rest of the world, Charles took his LC470 Lister replica to 1st in class and 6th overall out of 110 entries in one of the world’s most grueling road races. Adding to the impressiveness of the result is the fact that the entry list included former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, among many other talented drivers. The LC470 Charles was piloting was powered by an LS7 Chevrolet engine reputed to be making somewhere around 700 hp, which must have made things interesting indeed. Good work!

  4. you can check LC470.com for a look at brand new completed cars in various trim, it’s called a lucra 470 by this new company, i wish chuck would start making kits again, check kitcar mag feb. 1998. issue.
    ned

  5. Bob, so glad to see you finished the car. I still think about it a lot and wish there had been some way for me to keep it. Please call me if I can be of assistance.

  6. Bob, so glad to see you finished the car. I still think about it a lot and wish there had been some way for me to keep it. I’m glad to see you used the dash I had fabricated complete with the gages I chose. Man it looks good! Please call me if I can be of assistance.

  7. Bill, it’s good to hear from you. I hope all is well up there. I’ve said many times that fate smiled on me the day I saw your ad for the Lister, and every time I close the doors and hear the way they “thunk” like a Mercedes door (in spite of weighing probably five pounds each) I think of how much work you put into the car. I remember assuring you when we made the deal that I would compete in the car, and it’s currently done probably 15 autocrosses and 5 or 6 DE/TT events, with more in the future. Every time I drive it I learn something more about it–it never gets old.

  8. Things here are so, so. BMW laid off a lot of us last March. So far no work around here. Other than that all is good and everyone is healthy. If you ever compete on the east coast I would love to lend a hand.

  9. I acquired a Beck Lister last month. There are two red lights on the dash (one left and one right). The one on the right stays on, can anyone tell me what these lights indicate? Also what type of oil should I use.
    Thanks,Kenny

  10. Bob,

    I am owner of Avanti (Beck) #34 Lister with a small block Chevy just for fun. I first fell in love with the Lister-Chevy at Road America when Fred Woodridge’s black version #36 made Corner 5, sat down and blasted like a rocket up the hill and vanished to the left under the Corvette Bridge. That was at the June Sprints in 1959.

    Can you please tell me what the fuel cell capacity of those cars were? The gas gauge never has helped, so I must check the level with an 18″ long stick of kindling. I really would like to avoid taking the fuel cell out of the “trunk” to see what the capacity is, printed elsewhere on the tank.

    PLEASE, I HOPE THAT YOU OR ANY OTHER OWNERS CAN HELP ME WITH THIS QUESTION. I will gladly share information related to my experience/ modifications with the AVANTI (Beck) Lister.

    Brit Gordon

  11. Brut, I just saw your post, sorry. I wish I could give you a definitive answer, beyond this: To my knowledge there is no “standard” Beck fuel cell capacity, because Chuck didn’t supply the cars with a tank and left it to the owner. My cell was custom-made by Fuel Safe at the behest of the original owner. It holds about 9 gallons if you really top it out. It sits in the upper “ledge” in the trunk, which is safer than down in the trunk well, and probably also helps keep weight over the axle (although it also raises the center of gravity some). The downside versus sitting it in the well if the trunk is that it’s a monumental PitA to remove if you need to, which I did when replacing the fuel sender. I spent several hours on the task and emerged with many gashes on the backs of my hands from reaching in that tight space to undo bolts.

    Sorry I don’t have better info for you. I would imagine the Avanti cars were more uniform but all of the early, Beck cars seem to be totally unique.

  12. Brit, my Autocorrect changed your name to “Brut”, sorry about that.

    Kenny, congrats on your purchase. My answer is similar to Brit’s question–if yours is a Beck, versus an Avanti, Lister, then there’s no clear way to know what those lights mean because things like wiring, gauge choice & layout, etc. were left totally up to the individual owner. I doubt any two are alike. My dash lights denote, for instance, turn signals and high beams, but I could have set them up for low oil pressure warning, to indicate the electric fan was on, etc. Again, if yours is an Avanti car there may be more uniformity, but you’d need to talk to an Avanti owner like Alan Blair for that kind of info.

  13. Art, the last I heard the molds for the original Beck cars was in Mexico. You might track down Chuck Beck, who is still building cars (such as his Porsche 904 replica) in the Atlanta area, and seek guidance from The Source himself. Good luck–

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