To some, the car pictured above is known as an intriguing British GT racer from the 1990s, to others it is known as "That car from Gran Turismo" and to most, it is likely not known at all. So, for those who may be interested in the history of this mighty British racing machine, let's delve into it's history in this first instalment of Forgotten Race Cars. I present to you, the Lister Storm.
Lister Cars, the company behind the Storm, had previously built various sports racing cars through the late '50s and early 1960s, powered by everything from Jaguar D-Type straight-sixes to Corvette and Shelby V8s. The last known project of the original company was preparing Sunbeam Tigers for Le Mans in 1963, a rushed job that ended in failure sadly.
Fast forward to 1986, and Lister Cars reappears, building a handful of tuned Jaguar XJS coupes capable of 200 miles an hour, priced at a cool 100,000 pounds in Britain. Moving on from this, the company set about building a racing car, also to be powered by a Jaguar V12 engine, to be raced in the new GT1 class at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, ambitious to say the least.
The project began in 1993, and keeping with the Jaguar roots that had powered some of its race cars many years ago, and helped the company rise from the dead in 1986, Lister fitted the Storm with a 7.0 Jaguar V12, a unit that was essentially the same engine used in the iconic and successful Jaguar XJR series of Group-C cars to great effect in the World Sportscar Championship and at Le Mans.
The Storm road car, producing 546 horsepower from its 7.0 liter V12, was actually the fastest four seater production car in the world for a time, capable of over 200 miles an hour.
Of course, GT1 regulations at the time stated that for a car to be eligible for the class, there needed to be road going versions of said vehicle, and so Lister set about meeting that requirement. High production costs and an even higher price tag of $350,000 US quickly killed production of the road car however, and just four were built and sold before production ended, with only three of those cars surviving today.
The good news was that Lister had done enough to get the car homologated for Le Mans, and so two years after the project had begun, the Storm finally made its way to the famed 24 hour race. Debuting at Le Mans in 1995, the Storm went up against not only established GT1 race cars like the Porsche 911 GT2 and Jaguar XJ220, but also against Mclaren's new entry into GT racing, the F1, so it had some stiff competition.
As it turned out, the Storm's biggest competition would be itself, as the lone car entered into the race blew its gearbox after only 40 laps and was out, a result that would set the tone for the Storm's racing for the next few years, sadly. for the 1996 season, Lister entered a Storm at the famed 24 hours of Daytona as a way of testing it for Le Mans, with the car once again suffering mechanical woes and retiring from the race. It must have helped though, as the Storm went on to finish 19th overall and 11th in the GT1 class at Le Mans that same year.
A redesign for 1997 to compete with the new wave of GT1 cars, including the Mercedes CLK-GTR and Porsche 911 GT1, saw debut of the Storm GTL, pictured above, which unfortunately failed to improve on the car's lackluster results. it managed a fourth place finish in class at the Daytona 24 that year, but both cars entered failed to finish at Le Mans, and after having two cars DNF at Daytona the following year, Lister weren't even invited to Le Mans, and the Storm's racing career seemed to have ended.
As 1999 rolled around, the Storm was back with a vengeance. Devoid of the aerodynamic body the GTL had used, Lister entered into the FIA GT championship, and after a handful of podium finishes that year, the Storm finally hit its stride in 2000.
The Storm in action in the FIA GT Championship.
With former F1 driver Julian Bailey and new boy Jamie Campbell-Walter at the helm, the Lister would take five wins and the championship that year. For the next three years the Storm continued to take wins in the series, albeit without ever scoring another championship, but the success was constant. 2003 even saw Creation Autosportif join as a customer team, and would also see the final victory of the Storm, at Anderstop. The car would race on without earning another victory for two more seasons, with Creation moving to prototypes in 2004 and the factory team officially retiring the car from competition at the end of 2005.
All told, the Lister Storm racked up twelve victories and a championship in its years of FIA GT competition, finally becoming the winning race car that Lister had hoped for back in 1993. The Storm really is an odd specimen, a car that failed to achieve victory at the very race it was built to compete it, yet also one that would go on to become a consistent winner in FIA GT racing at the turn of the century. Regardless, is deserves a place in the racing history books, and I hope that with this article, more racing fans out there will have learned about this forgotten racing car.