The Lister-Jaguar "Monzanapolis" is the English Indycar

22nd November 2017
Ethan Jupp

“Unique” is a bit of a Cliché in motoring lingo. Everything from your average brand new Mini to a coach-built Ferrari 250 could fall under it. Ultimately, the Mini is just a spec’ combination out of however many millions there are that are possible and the 250 is a common-ish ‘60s super GT that’s received different bodywork. It’s all about perspective and context. The fact of the matter is that if in the company of something like the Lister-Jaguar Monzanapolis, few cars can be described as such.


Ostensibly speaking, it’s a fettled Lister chassis complete with the wide-angle dry-sump D-Type 3.8-litre engine. By re-fettled we mean clothed in slippery one-of-a-kind Indycar style alloy cladding. For what purpose? The short-lived Race of Two Worlds, of course, as entered by esteemed Scottish racing outfit Ecurie Ecosse, during the height of their domination at the enduros. It is for the spectacular Ecosse tribute and for the Richmond Trophy that the Monzanapolis was present at Revival 2017.

Ran in 1957 and 1958, RoTW saw sportscars, American Indycars and European F1 cars meet to do battle at the newly-modified Monza circuit. It was an exhibition of how far global motorsport had come in the years since the end of hostilities in 1945. It went down a storm in 1957 to the point that builders and teams were preparing cars specifically for it. The nickname “Monzanapolis” came of the new Monza bowl course’s similarities with the American high-speed staple. So the Lister-Jag – the most extensive RoTW-centric effort – took the name too.

At Revival, we spoke to the current proud owner, Rod Jolley, about the story of the Monzanapolis, its performance, where it’s been since its 15 minutes of fame in ’58 and what made him want it.


The configuration that it appeared at Revival in was a faithful recreation of the original but in period, it wasn’t maintained too far beyond the ’58 RoTW. Instead, it was converted to a hillclimb car – its modified Lister sportscar chassis and powerful XK engine making it a prime candidate for repurposing. In the late ‘60s it was acquired by Martin Chapman who partially restored it to Monza spec’ but it wouldn’t be restored to its full 1958 look and specification until Rod bought it in 2004. Since its restoration, it’s been round the world time and again chasing modern motorsport and putting in shifts at classic racing events:

“I was at Phillip Island with it earlier this year for the Australian GP support race, Dijon and Nurburgring".

How did it perform at the Race of Two Worlds for which it was created, you ask? 

“It was pretty hopeless in period. In ‘57 they ran the D-Types and they did well because of the slippery shape so for ‘58 they built this – the English Indycar. They just didn’t have the power to do it. It came last".


So why on Earth is it so loved and revered if it literally came stone dead last at the very event for which it was conceived? Well, it all downs back down to the U word. Rod reckons it’s a fun steer, too. Just as well…

“It’s unique and it’s quite pretty. Very quick with a good driver. It’s good fun but a bit of a handful at times”.

Thousands of wonderful cars find themselves locked away, never to be enjoyed by owner nor public, condemned to life as dusty panel-beaten hedge funds. Yet so many of them pale in significance and, er, uniqueness, to the Monzanapolis. The American Indycar has been out in force at every significant event it can make it to and by the sounds of it will have a big 2018, too. It even managed a fairly heady eighth in the Richmond Trophy out of a packed grid of 29, moving up from a qualifying position of twelfth. Impressive, given Rod told us he was taking it easy for the weekend. It seems the Monzanapolis has a bit more fight in it nearly 60 years on from its Race of Two Worlds debut.

Photography by Pete Summers, Jochen Van Cauwenberge, Nick Dungan and Drew Gibson

  • Lister

  • Monzanapolis

  • Revival

  • Revival 2017

  • 2017

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