September 5, 2023

A Storm Is Coming

There’s A Storm Coming

Once upon a time, when the mythical fire-breathing dragons of Group C were killed off by a deadly mix of politics and speed (ask Hitoshi Ogawa and Andy Wallace, both of whom broke their ribs during the same test while cornering the Eagle Mk III Toyota), the racing world fell into a wretched half-decade of sorrow. 

With the replacement LMP series proving a damp squib, the FIA had shifted their focus to GT1 by ’95, a class that (inevitably) evolved into yet another manufacturer-only series dominated by big bucks, semi-prototype one-offs, and zero chance for the independents. Little noticed at the time though was the back-of-the-class, incorrigible kids in GT2 who were cooking up some special sauce by mixing peachy big-lumps sourced from Group C into some rather spicy-looking GT cars. 

Like what? Well, how about the 7L V8 Saleen S7-R vs the 8L V10 Chrysler Viper GTS-Rs vs … 

(… okay, goosepimply and misty-eyed now …)

… the icon, the legend … the V12 beast that launched a thousand dreams in GTR … and is officially coming to GTRevival

The Lister Storm GT

So what’s so special? 

How about the biggest engine ever fitted to a GT car since 1938? A lump taken directly from the Group C Jaguar XJR-9. And then tuned for more power! A stonkingly crazy twin-supercharged, bored-out 7L V12 shoved mid-front into a honeycomb chassis and carbon fibre body that produced (depending on who you believe) anything from 550HP to 700HP! 

Not enough?

How about just about the sweetest-sounding V12 you ever did hear in a GT car?

Still not enough? 

Well, how about the car that bookended the very strange history of a little-remembered British icon of motorsport that went from world beaters to oblivion to world beaters in less than three decades …

Loving Your Lister

Once upon a time, a tiny motor manufacturer named the Lister Motor Company carved out a slice of motorsport history that, by the ’90s, had been all but forgotten aside from a few greasy anoraks. Surprising because they were Britain’s most successful sports car manufacturers during the ’50s, able to attract a who’s who of British racing talent—Jim Clark, Stirling Moss, and the legendary GT dicer, Archie Scott Brown.  

Lister’s rise would prove to be as quick as their cars—and their demise. That rise began in ’54 when George Lister founded Lister Engineering in Cambridge, England, with competition cars being the primary focus, starting with the Lister MG. 

In ’57, Lister introduced the Lister-Jaguar, powered by a 3.4L Jaguar D-type XK inline-6 that enjoyed absurd success when it was upgraded with an aluminium aero-kit and dubbed the Lister-Jaguar “Knobbly”.  (If you have a few bob lying around and you’re in the market for a rocket, Lister is now producing these legendary lightweight racers again—as Chris Harris discovered a few years ago.) 

Around the time of the “Knobbly” is when Lister hired an unknown engineer by the name of Mike Costin, who was tasked with creating a new aero-body wrapped around a Chevy power unit sourced from a ’Vette (this a decade before Costin would become the “Cos” in the Ford V8 Cosworth that went on to dominate F1 for decades). 

Lister’s legacy was then sealed by the inimitable Lister-Maserati 2L built in ’56—one of which sold for £575,000 a few years back. The little motorsport company was at the absolute peak of its powers by then—little knowing that its meteoric rise was about to come to a sombre and horrific end.

Archie Scott Brown

Lister’s motorsport legacy was closely allied to their star driver, Archie Scott Brown. The diminutive Scotsman may have been born with only one fully functional hand (and severely handicapped legs), but his exuberant style behind the wheel made him the absolute star of the ’50s sportscar scene. 

Even the great Fangio was moved enough to call Scott Brown the “king of drift”. 

Like Clark at Lotus and Villeneuve at Ferrari, Lister and Scott Brown became an owner/driver partnership that dominated their era with George Lister engineering cars that were beautifully agile and neutral-handling for Scott Brown to swashbuckle his way to wins and championships with an inimitable tail-out, heroic bravura. 

All on the up and Boy’s Own stuff … until a grim day at Spa in May of ’58 when Scott Brown, chasing down Maston Gregory in a sister Lister, lost it all just after Blanchimont into Clubhouse Bend aged just 31.

Devastated by the loss, George Lister pulled out of motorsport a couple of years later. And that was that—by the late ’70s, the company had become a dormant entity which even George Lister’s son, Brian, was unable to resurrect. 

And then came ... 

The Storm

In ’86, businessman Laurence Pearce bought the once-legendary motorsport concern and began building one-off modifications of the Jaguar XJS (and other supercars) before embarking on the project that would bring Lister back from the dead.

The road-car for that project (needed for homologation) was a four-seater GT with a colossal 7L Jaguar unit and a flat floor “ground effect”. Not surprisingly, it was the fastest four-seater GT car ever made—and kept that record all the way into the early noughties—but given its sticker price (£220,000), only four were ever produced.

Four was enough though to launch Lister’s new motorsports programme after a quarter-century in the wilderness. That began with the Lister Storm GTS that debuted at Le Mans in ’95. Up against peak-era GT1 machinery (McLaren F1 GTR, Ferrari F40 LM, Jaguar XJ220S, Porsche 911 GT2, etc.), the Lister was unsurprisingly off the pace, lasting but 40 laps before swallowing its own gearbox (a defect that would continue to plague Lister for the rest of the decade). 

For ’96, Lister managed to get some much-needed sponsorship from Newcastle United (yes, everyone loved it, loved it!) and the Storm GTS got some much-needed love when engineer Geoff Kingston came onboard (along with ex-F1 drivers Geoff Lees, Tiff Needell, and Kenny Acheson). 

Much was expected but at Daytona, in the first race of the season, Acheson found himself the victim of an enormous off—an explosive shunt that totalled the Storm GTS and from which an injured Acheson was lucky to be carried away alive (albeit permanently wounded).

After finishing Le Mans in ’96 (way off the pace, but a finish is a finish), the Storm GTS was entered into the BPR Global GT Series, and that’s when things started to gel. On their debut at the Nürburgring, they were on for a podium before being let down by the ’box, a result that would reoccur that fall at the Suzuka 1000KM when, again running in third, the Lister’s 'box said おやすみ ... 

For ’97, as response to the all-conquering Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and Porsche 911 GT1 semi-prototypes in GT1, the Lister Storm GTS was again redesigned, renamed the Lister Storm GTL, and sent out to battle in the FIA GT Championship and the British GT Championship where it finally managed its first win late in ’97. 

And then came that fateful year 1998 when the Lister was again updated (longer nose for better aero), again renamed, and—quite unexpectedly—about to become the defining icon of sportscar racing for the new century. 

And that icon is what you’ll be racing in GTRevival … 

The Lister Storm GT

The Storm GT was a winner right out of the box, claiming the GT2 British GT Championship first year out. Even more mouthwatering? With the FIA’s adjustment of the regulations, GT-class racing suddenly became the de facto leading class of the FIA Championship

And just like that, Lister found itself with a car capable of gunning for one of the most prestigious titles in big-time motorsport. Not surprisingly, the team went all-in on a full season in the FIA GT Championship. The result? Some of the most epic-noise battles you’ll ever be treated to—the 7L V12 Lister Storms vs the 8L V10 Chrysler Viper GTS-Rs—alongside some of the hardest battles ever seen in GT racing. 

Oh, and did we mention the sound?

Lister enjoyed some positive results that first season, but when the championship-winning works Chrysler-Oreca left the series for the 2000 season, Lister’s title hopes were truly unleashed: Winning five races with Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter doing the wheelwork, even a late intervention by the FIA to slow the Storm GT with restrictors failed to stop Lister from claiming both the driver’s and the team’s titles. 

After half a century, Lister was back!

For 2001, more wins, more big-block battles, but not quite enough for Lister to displace the mighty Vipers from another championship (which they’d defend the following season). Lister pushed on through 2003, finishing a fighting second in the championship (again), but by the end of the season, the factory was distracted by their new project—the (soon to prove second-rate) Lister Storm LMP

Lister was also taken to task by a new rival—the 7L V8 Saleen S7-R in yet more big-horsepower battles, but in truth, the days of the Viper/Lister/Saleen had already seen its sunset, usurped by the all-conquering Ferrari 550s. 

And that was that. For ’04, the Lister Storm GT managed only one point, ’05 was equally as dire, and at the end of the season, on a cold, rainy day in November, Lister rolled the last of the Lister Storm GTs into the garage and shut the doors forever. 


And it was then that the sim racing world would discover the mighty Lister Storm GT when it was reborn, in all its sonorous glory, for GTR and GTR2. A car that anyone who was around back then fell in love with. From the gorgeous cockpit to the sound of the V12 to the George Lister-approved neutral handling (until you mash the throttle on exit, because then it transforms into an ode to drift king Archie Scott Brown!), the Lister wasn’t the fastest thing you could drive in GTR, but no one gave much of a damn because racing this beast was just so rewardingly sweet. 

Looking back on it, those five years, between ’99 and ’04, really were a second Golden Age to compare to the glory years of GT racing from the ’50s and ’60s. 

An era that lies in your future with GTRevival

LISTER STORM GT Specifications

Engine: Jaguar V12 SOHC 24 valves

Displacement: 7.0 L 6,996 cc (426.9 cu in)

Compression: 10.5:1

Power: 554 PS (407 kW; 546 hp) at 6,100 rpm

Torque: 786.37 N⋅m (580.0 lb⋅ft) at 3,450 rpm

Top speed: 335 km/h (208 mph)

Acceleration: 0-100km/h 3.8s

Coefficient of drag: Cd=0.35

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