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1989 Jaguar XJ40 project cars with Lister modifications


・A pair of cars including donor ‘shell’ car and lister modified project car
・A truly unique story from a car said to be driven by Lister racing drivers

The Background

Luxury cars? There’s one name that always has, and most probably always will raise its name quickly in the conversation – Jaguar. Launched in 1986, the XJ6 or ‘XJ40’ as some call it, was a huge leap for Jaguar and the car was regarded as being leagues better than the outgoing Series III. Reliability was improved dramatically over the previous car, something which helped Jaguar build on their reputation at a time when their German competitors were gobbling up market share.

The XJ’s and their 6-cyliner engines offered comfort, class and speed but also served up running costs which were - at the time - comparatively expensive alongside their German counterparts. These big British luxury saloons were therefore a rarer sight on the road and certainly unusual to see today.

For auction here we have not one, but two of these iconic British saloons, offered as a pair with the intention of creating one, very special Lister version. The more orthodox, right-hand drive XJ6 features a 3.2l engine and standard Jaguar running gear, while the 3.6l XJ has had substantial modifications in its time to recreate a Lister modified car.

The Lister name is legendary in the manufacturer of British racing cars, notably debuting the Lister Storm at the 1995 Le Mans. However, it was their partnership with Jaguar where they made their name, crafting special, highly tuned versions of the D-Type based ‘Knobbly’ and XJ-S among others. It is these roots which inspired the current owner to undertake a restoration project to bring a rare Lister XJ back to the road.

The History

Both cars were purchased from new by a Jersey-based engineer who provided his services for the Lister racing team. The ‘Lister project car’ seen here began life as a Californian model, purchased from San Jose Motors, California in 1989 and fitted with a 3.6l engine. The car was driven by the original owner to New York and back to Southampton onboard the QE2. First registered in the UK in 1991, it was subsequently registered in Jersey in 2003. A left-hand drive car was chosen due to the intention for it to be used to travel around Europe following the Lister GT cars: which it did! The car has enjoyed a colourful  history, being used to ferry the competition drivers for Lister to Le Mans and all the European races. It was driven on these trips by Geoff Lees, Julian Bailey, Tiff Needel and the entire crew. It is a reasonably well-known car in Jaguar and GT racing circles. Many of the race teams have had rides in it and it was basically the “troop carrier”.  

Due to his relationship with the Lister company, the owner requested the approval of Lawrence and Fiona Pearce, owners of the Lister factory at the time, to carry out a range of Lister modifications to the car which was granted. He duly began the process, sending the Jaguar to Browns Lane to have Jaguar rear lights fitted to make it UK legal. We are told that there were substantial suspension modifications made, similar to those on a Lister Le Mans specification, a BMW fast steering rack was fitted along with a Lister steering wheel. Special brakes were fitted using a hydraulic system which the previous owner asserts are Brembo, but may feature some AP parts also. We’re also led to believe that the ECU is non-standard and was re-mapped by the owner engineer personally. 

In terms of the known timeline for these cars, a registration document found in the project car states that it was registered in Jersey on 15/09/2003 and in 2017, the current owner purchased both cars from the Jersey-based seller before bringing them over to Essex. Despite every intention to use the XJ6 donor car for its chassis and bodywork to resurrect the Lister project car, the owner’s situation demands that he must pass this venture into new hands.

The Paperwork

Sadly, despite their unique history, the only paperwork which exists for the two cars is a bill of sale from Le Riche Automobile for both of the cars in 2017 and a Jersey registration document from 2003. The seller is in conversations with the previous owner and is endeavouring to obtain what he understands to be considerable paperwork which does exist for both cars which will help to substantiate the Lister modifications. 

The Exterior

Both cars are finished in Jaguars Regency Red and, as alluded to, both are found in need of total restoration, with varying conditions of bodywork. The donor car is the more robust of the two and, whilst a full structural inspection could not be carried out, is appeared to be free of any major rot. The Lister project car requires this shell to be transferred over to replace its own which, unfortunately, has plenty of evidence of rust throughout.

Lacquer peel, paint bubbles, surface rust, wheel corrosion and brightwork deterioration are all evident across both cars. The project car’s GKN 18 inch alloyss are a rare find, though evidently in need of refurbishment. They replace 2 previously known sets of Lister magnesium wheels which unfortunately succumbed to the corrosion issues that wheels of this material often face. All glass appears to be intact, and no major dents or damage were noted on the body panels.

The Interior

Clearly suffering from their time spent unused, both cars feature various degrees mould, lacquer peel and deterioration of the leather seats internally. Whilst a lot of work is certainly be required, the interiors do appear to be viable for reconditioning, given to the right experience.

The Mechanics

Neither car are said to be in a running state, though the Lister Project car was started with the assistance of a battery pack and ran in order for it to be driven to a location for photography. The previous owner of the car stated that, back when the modifications had been completed, the Lister car handles and drives completely differently to a standard car; we’re told it’s handling is substantially improved with the modifications that were made and that the upgraded brakes will stop the car on the proverbial sixpence. The Lister car has been through, in effect, several nut and bolt rebuilds at the hands of Lister and it ran very well. The previous owner believes around £250k has been spent on the car over the time that he owned it.

The Appeal

There’s no denying that a fair amount of work, effort and money will need to be invested by whoever takes this project on, but the result could be something truly unique and very much worth the labour. The history of these Jaguars, principally the Lister project car, can almost be smelt on them… With such proximity to the iconic Lister company that allowed for the raft of unique modifications to be granted and then made, there is the potential here to create a piece of British automotive history and build put an extremely rare Lister XJ40 back on the road.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1989
  • Make Jaguar
  • Model XJ40
  • Colour Red
  • Engine size 3200
  • Location Essex
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
1 bid
  • Sgh1987 £500 22/06/21

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