Lister-Jaguar Looks to Add Chateau Impney Win to Long Race History

Friday 13 May 2016

A near-perfect Lister-Jaguar, which has raced hundreds of times since the 1950s, will be getting back to its hill climb roots when it takes to the start line at Chateau Impney.

The 1958 model, which is one of only two in such original condition, has been in Simon Ham’s family for 47 years. His father, David Ham (pictured), raced it around 300 times over the last 40 years, and Simon is eager to carry on the family tradition at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb – despite the event being his first ever hill climb.

The Hams’ beloved Jaguar was created by Lister Cars, an engineering company founded in Cambridge in 1954. The company made its debut at Oulton Park that year with a Lister Bristol that included a tuned MG engine. In 1957, Lister redesigned the car around a Jaguar D-Type with an aerodynamic aluminium body, and in the new model, Archie Scott Brown went ahead to win the 1957 British Empire Trophy – one of the longest-running racing events of all time.

However, the Ham family’s car had a much slower start. It was originally owned by wealthy Scottish businessman, Sir Alexander Miller, who used it mainly as a road car. It was then sold in 1962 to Phil Scragg, one of the most well-known hill climb personalities of the era who had also competed in the original Chateau Impney speed trials.

Scragg replaced the Lister’s engine with a Chevrolet one, which was a popular thing to do at the time as the American make’s power lent itself well to hill climbs. Scragg owned a number of cars, so although he campaigned the Lister regularly, it wasn’t long before he sold it on to George Tatham. Tatham took it at numerous events before selling it to Simon Ham’s parents, who decided to restore it to its original state and put the Jaguar engine back in.

Simon said: “My father had a Le Mans Aston Martin, which my grandfather had owned. He sold it in 1965 and then regretted getting rid of it, as he’d enjoyed the challenge of driving it. When he spotted an advert in Autosport for the Lister-Jaguar, he convinced my mother to buy it. They’d just got married and she had to go without a lounge carpet for a bit longer because the money went into buying the Lister!”

At the time, historic racing was just starting to take off and by the time Simon’s father had fixed the car up, there were plenty of races for him to compete in.

Simon said: “My father was very active in historic racing and has raced around 300 times in the Lister. He started racing in 1960 and only stopped four years ago. My mother raced it for a few seasons before I was born, as well as racing a lightweight Lotus Elan.

“The Lister hasn’t been crashed badly, so still has its original bodywork. It’s one of only two Listers that can claim to be in such an original state.”

As expected, Simon also caught the motorsport bug and started racing in 1993 at the age of just 19. His first car was an old TVR, but it wasn’t long before he took to the wheel of the Lister.

He said: “I’ve done Goodwood Revival, which was great fun, but really competitive. I was up against former Le Mans winners, a Grand Prix winner and an Indy 500 winner, which was tough, but really enjoyable.

“I’ve done quite a lot of VSCC racing, which I really like as it’s a lot more low-key and the drivers are people like me, who aren’t professionals and just enjoy old cars and driving.”

While Simon’s taken part in a lot of circuit racing, he’s never tried his hand at hill climbing. Now, he’s bringing the car back to its roots by tackling the tricky Chateau Impney hill.

He said: “My number one priority is always to get the car back in one piece because I’ve never known life without the Lister! I saw TV coverage of last year’s hill climb and there lots of people locking wheels and spinning off the track.

“However, like any hill climb, I’m sure it’s an exact science and I plan to approach it steadily and work upwards, rather than go flat out from the word go. Although I might change my mind when I’m actually there!”

Photographs provided courtesy of Alan Raine and Jack Davidson

 

 

  • Lister-Jaguar at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
  • Lister-Jaguar at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
  • Lister-Jaguar at the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, Droitwich
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