The Ecurie Nationale Belge entry in the 1958 24 hours of Le Mans - BHL 105 represents a seldom-seen opportunity to acquire one of the most significant and original Lister-Jaguar's in existence.
Delivered new to director Pierre Stasse for use by the Ecurie Nationale Belge (ENB) and dressed in ENB’s iconic yellow livery with a central stripe in racing green, BHL 105 succeeded the D-Type Jaguar with which Belgians Paul Frère and Freddy Rousselle had taken 4th overall at Le Mans in 1957. ENB was founded in 1955 by John Claes and Jacques Swaters with sponsorship from the Belgian Shell Company, creating a combined national racing stable building on the efforts of Ecurie Belge and Ecurie Francorchamps.
Well-equipped for 1958, Rousselle and teammate Claude Dubois would have hoped to equal or better their team’s prior year performance at Le Mans. Alas, it was not to be, but through no fault of the Listers. Retirement came at the two-hour mark with no oil pressure holding 15th place – as all but one Jaguar-powered car retired, hurt by the Achilles heel of the 3-litre XK engines hurriedly-developed to comply with the new Appendix C regulations for world sports car events.
The Lister’s 1958 season with ENB continued with appearances at Silverstone, Spa and Oulton Park, however in 1959 an off at the Helsinki Grand Prix saw her returned to England for repair and sale.
BHL 105 was one of a host of privateer Listers delivered in 1958 to the likes of Briggs Cunningham and Ecurie Ecosse, marrying the still-competitive Jaguar power unit to a Lister chassis of formidably advanced specification. The 1958 cars developed the winning formula Listers had hit on with the 1957 works car MVE 303, mounting a D-type engine in their precision-built tubular chassis, with de Dion rear axle, coil-over damper suspension and inboard rear brakes.
Today BHL 105 is one of the most original Listers in existence, a reference car that unlike many Listers retains its original body and chassis. She retains her original D-Type gearbox, correct period ZF differential, magnesium alloy wheels and original instruments. Even the original delicately curved period windscreen has been saved and set aside for posterity.
BHL 105 benefitted from a sympathetic and comprehensive rebuild by well-regarded specialists Lynx, after her return to the UK from Switzerland in 1997. Utmost care was taken to preserve original material as befitted such an important example, even as she was prepared for an active life on the historic racing circuit. When Motorsport magazine announced BHL 105’s return, Brian Lister commented, “It is a car of great historical significance, and I’m so pleased it has returned to these shores.”
Under her present enthusiastic ownership, BHL 105 raced at the inaugural Goodwood Revival meeting in 1998 driven by Tiff Needell, and has since been regularly campaigned at later Revivals and other historic racing events. Recently this historic Lister has been cared for by the expert team at CKL Developments.
But while BHL 105 is a fabulous machine, her history is what makes her truly great – and the vivid recollections of Claude Dubois of Ecurie Nationale Belge form an extraordinary link with the Le Mans history of this important Lister. Some years ago, Jaguar World magazine featured a joyful modern reunion between Dubois and BHL 105, who took her out on test with a still firm hand and the broadest of smiles.