Lister Storm: An Obscure 1990s Supercar With a Massive V12 That’s Still Fascinating Today

Born to challenge legends like the McLaren F1 GTR, Ferrari F40 LM, or Jaguar XJ220S in the GT1 class, the Lister Storm was a full-blown racecar that was briefly unleashed on public roads. Powered by the largest V12 fitted into a road car since World War II, it was the fastest four-seat grand tourer of the 1990s.
Lister Storm 9 photos
Photo: Historics Classic and Sportscar Auctions Ltd
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When we think about British supercars from the 1990s, the first one that comes to mind is the McLaren F1 Still one of the most impressive cars of all time more than thirty years after its introduction, it was a beast on both the road and the racetrack during its heyday.

The second British supercar that made waves during that exciting decade was the Jaguar XJ220. While it was the fastest car in the world at the time of its release, it was extremely controversial because it came out with a twin-turbo V6 instead of the naturally aspirated V12 that the manufacturer had initially promised.

However, a Jaguar V12 would eventually make it into a street-legal British supercar, albeit arguably the most obscure of them all. Dubbed Storm, this grand tourer was manufactured by Lister in Cambridge, England, and even if it has been relegated to the back pages of automotive history books, the four-seater was, in more ways than one, just as impressive as the aforementioned British legends.

Lister Storm
Photo: Historics Classic and Sportscar Auctions Ltd
For many enthusiasts, the name Lister might not ring any familiar bells, but for those based in the UK, the company founded in 1954 is known for being one of the premier Jaguar tuners. But, apart from beefing up road-legal Jags or turning them into race cars, Lister has also ventured into low-volume, road-legal supercar production for a very brief period.

The Storm project aimed to create a contender for the Le Mans 24-Hour race’s leading GT1 class, but to gain homologation, the car had to be based on a production model. So, in 1991, alongside the Storm GTS race car, Lister began developing a street variant.

At the heart of the now-forgotten, mid-engine beast stood a massive single overhead cam (SOHC) V12 based on the unit used by Jaguar in the XJR-9 prototype racer that won the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1988. Displacing a whopping 7.0 liters and becoming the largest V12 fitted into a road car since World War II, the race-bred unit was limited to around 550 hp and 582.7 lb-ft (790 Nm) of torque.

Lister Storm
Photo: Historics Classic and Sportscar Auctions Ltd
With a curb weight of 3,668.5 lbs (1,664 kg), the Storm was capable of accelerating to 60 mph (97 kph) from a standstill in 4.1 seconds and could reach a top speed of 208 mph (334.7 kph). This meant that it was one of the fastest production cars in the world at the time and the fastest four-seat grand tourer of them all. It retained this title for more than a decade, being dethroned only by the Brabus Rocket, a tuned version of the W219 Mercedes CLS.

Mated to a Getrag six-speed manual that helped send all that power to the rear wheels, the impressive Jaguar V12 was longitudinally mounted in the middle of a bespoke honeycomb chassis made out of lightweight aluminum alloy. The suspension was independent on all four corners and Brembo brakes provided stopping power.

The chassis was covered with a body that featured a mix of aluminum and carbon-kevlar panels. Designed by Mike Hughes, it looked like a weird mix between an Aston Martin Virage, and a Koenig Specials-tuned Ferrari. The structure borrowed doors from a Volkswagen Corrado (albeit remanufactured from aluminum) and taillights from the B3 Audi 80 sedan but despite its bizarre design, it had a very good drag coefficient that stood at 0.35 Cd.

Lister Storm
Photo: Historics Classic and Sportscar Auctions Ltd
While the exterior wasn’t all that impressive, the Storm’s interior was a different story. With a driver-oriented dashboard covered in Alcantara, comfortable, bucket seats, door panels, and a center console upholstered in fine leather as well as creature comforts like air conditioning or a stereo system, it was as exquisite as any other supercar’s cabin. In fact, it looked and felt much better than what could be found inside a Jaguar XJ220.

In street-legal guise, the Storm was produced from 1993 to 1994. In part because of its £220,000 ($330,000) price tag - which, counting inflation translates to $676,376 in today’s money – the company only registered four orders for the car. All were delivered to their owners and three of them survive to this day. The one featured in this article was auctioned off in 2018, but despite its rarity and initial price, it only fetched £150,000 (215,085).

Lister Storm
Photo: Historics Classic and Sportscar Auctions Ltd
Although the road-legal Storm was short-lived, its track-only sibling enjoyed a long and fruitful career. Build in various iterations during the years, it debuted at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans where it failed to finish due to a gearbox failure. It was then entered in many competitions around the globe, including the popular BPR Global GT Series (rebranded FIA GT Championship in 1997) where it went up against the McLaren F1 GTR, Ferrari F40 LM, Porsche 911 GT1 or Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR. Sadly, mechanical issues prevented Lister from winning anything more than a few races during the second half of the 1990s. However, in 2000 the factory team won both the constructor’s and driver’s titles in the FIA GT Championship. A year later, Lister would add the British GT championship to their trophy cabinet and continued to race the Storm until 2005.

Born during the most exciting era of supercars, the Lister Storm never managed to reach the legendary status of its peers but, it still deserves to be remembered and appreciated. It came from a small British manufacturer, it delivered a Jaguar V12-powered supercar which Jaguar itself failed to do and became a GT cult hero on track.

Spotting one of the three surviving Storms in the wild is nearly impossible, but thanks to YouTube user StyleNL, you can take a virtual walkaround of this fascinating ride in the video below.

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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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