Conjure up the more successful fettled fast cars - BBR MX-5s, the 'CSR' 911s from RPM, Brabus Mercedes - and a common theme emerges. Instead of transforming the base product, the focus is on bringing out the very best of what was already good. Therefore BBR makes a bright and zesty MX-5 engine even more so, RPM sharpens up 911 dynamics (without compromising usability) and Brabus successfully plies a trade upping the power and the luxury for very powerful, very luxurious Mercedes. There would be little point, say, in trying to make a GT car of an MX-5 or a track car of an E63, so the tuners don't - and are in better shape for it.
With that in mind, which bits would you choose to enhance about a Jaguar F-Type - what has sold it to the buying public since 2013? The styling inside and out must be part of the appeal, the car still dramatic, assured and striking. As too must the powertrain; for half a dozen years F-Types have found many fans with their V8 raucousness, and even more so recently as rivals have been culled or had their engines changed. Performance is part of that as well: all F-Types have punched pretty well, even the four-cylinder P300 thanks to its close gear ratios, with the eagerness of a supercharger now almost unique in the segment.
It shouldn't be a surprise to learn, then, that the Lister LFT-C - the cabrio version of the LFT-666, once upon a time the Thunder - aims to build on all the F-Type facets for a more seductive end product. It isn't difficult to comprehend the demand for a faster, louder, better-looking V8 R with an even greater sense of occasion, after all. (It's rather more taxing to imagine the PH vision for a Lister F-Type - a stripped out V6 track car, to evoke the six-cylinder Listers of the 50s - and that's why we're not in the business world...)
As a reminder, the LFT-C gains its extra power via a new supercharger pulley, remap, intercooler and air filter, the noise through a bespoke exhaust, the look through a carbon bodykit and the sense of occasion through a retrim in Bridge of Weir leather. Oh yeah, and the stripes, of course - £1,800 surely very well spent.
Given the extent and focus of Lister's work, that the LFT-C immediately makes for lavishly charismatic company will not be much of a discovery. Because that's what an F-Type has always done quite well. Even in its mellower drive settings, the F-Type purrs more malevolently through traffic, darts into direction changes with greater urgency on its bespoke coilovers and saunters down a road far more briskly, all while surrounded by that smell of waxy, expensive leather. Shame the plastic has to stay, really. However, as charm offensives go, it's hard to imagine even Ryan Gosling leaving a more positive impression after the first 10 minutes.
Of course, there's a very valid argument to be made that the SVR occupies a space at the top of the range which ought to already satisfy the demand beyond an F-Type R - but the Lister offers a couple of very valid counterpoints. First being that the interior makeover really does create an atmosphere of increased luxury and specialness; second being that this is way, way faster than an SVR. Which was already very fast indeed.
When this car was an LFT-666, that number denoted the imperial horsepower - or 675hp in new money. Which is more than Lamborghini Murcielago Super Veloce had, it's more than a Ferrari 488 GTB, more than an Aston Martin DB11 AMR and only a little less than a 911 GT2 RS. With 531lb ft in addition, performance is most certainly of the scandalous variety: 100mph is said to take less than seven seconds, which is an eminently believable claim.
Furthermore, while ultimately subjective, the LFT must be the best-looking F-Type yet. While a ride height drop and a 21-inch wheel upgrade present their own problems - more on that in a sec - in conjunction with the new bodykit they work wonders. There's no such thing as a dumpy, unattractive F-Type, so arguably Lister's job wasn't the most difficult, but the presence, attitude and sheer want-one desirability wrought by the new panels is considerable. The LFT somehow manages to be more aggressive as well as more attractive than a standard F-Type, which is a fair achievement. It's never going to be mistaken for anything less, either, which must be a point to consider when spending twice the money of a V6 S on a Lister.
So that's what's good: the LFT-C is heroically rapid, looks a million dollars and feels just about sumptuous enough. What isn't so convincing? Well, without sounding like your in-laws, this is a sports car that's a bit too stiff and a bit too noisy; the Lister can fidget and jar on a B-road where a Jaguar would flow and cosset, the price paid for that look and the increase in agility. Those dampers are manually adjustable though, so perhaps there's a better compromise to be found that means less scrape, less float and more confidence while keeping the stance. Or maybe getting rid of a finely-honed adaptive Jaguar set up for coilovers and throwing on 21s was never going to yield positive results. Then you get out, see it again walking away and wonder what on earth all the moaning was about - it really is a stunning car.
As for the sound, there's certainly no denying the enormous grin that'll surface with the Lister's riotous rumble under load, 5.0-litre V8 playing a familiar tune that's not long for this world - only now with even greater menace. Trouble is with the exhaust in its louder setting, or its most anti-social with the LFT in Dynamic mode, because the noise is absurd. It's overbearing and unnecessary, even on a deserted country lane - with anyone else in earshot it's borderline embarrassing. Of course the solution would be to keep the pipes turned down, but then what's the point in having them?
Despite those qualms, and despite the fact that this is now McLaren money for an F-Type, it's easy to imagine the Lister finding its 10 buyers. With the rather louche, almost bellicose appeal of a V8 F-Type ratcheted up to the downright naughty, combined with the towering performance, considerable rarity as well as the historic significance of the Lister badge, and it's patently a tempting package for those inclined that way. Because if an F-Type has beguiled thanks to the aesthetic, the performance and the image, then why not have the best looking, fastest and rowdiest F-Type ever made? It's certainly not without flaws, granted, but the base car has never been perfect either: those after the very last word dynamically at this money wouldn't be looking at an F-Type of any stripe.
Assessed for what it is, which is to say an F-Type reworked by specialists, and the Lister is a damn fine first effort. By (over)delivering on subjective allure as well as supporting that with tangible ability, the Lister makes a convincing, almost compelling case for itself. Consider interest in their reworked F-Pace SVR, due pretty soon, raised a good deal....
SPECIFICATION - LISTER LFT-C
Engine: 5,000cc, supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 675@N/Arpm
Torque (lb ft): 531@N/Arpm
Top speed: 205mph
Weight: 'From' 1,745kg (standard F-Type R)
MPG: 25.0 (NEDC combined, standard car)
CO2: 269g/km (standard car)