A car that features in the forthcoming September/October issue of tkc mag is the Lister Bell STR, a glorious pastiche of the Lancia Stratos that eschews all-out at-all-costs replication in favour of practicality and a gentle modernisation such as the larger than original wheels.

The Nottinghamshire-based company is run by Craig White, a man with quite a kitcar CV previously having worked at Litton Cars, Carson Automotive Engineering, Ultima Sports, Gardner Douglas Sports Cars and Great British Sports Cars before founding Lister Bell Automotive in 2010.

The STR came along almost by accident after Craig had meticulously built an old Allora Stratos kit to his exacting standards. The result was so good that friends suggested that he offer it commercially, which brings us neatly up to date.

Launching the car in perhaps the UK’s worst ever recession certainly was a baptism of fire yet Craig has enjoyed a healthy and consistent string of orders, with the majority from overseas.

I’d been nagging Craig for quite a while to let me have a drive of the STR, and when the opportunity arose a month or so ago, I jumped at it. I have to say that the car was everything I hoped it would be. Audi-esque even panel fit is one of the highest compliments I can pay the STR visually, while it also sits low and mean.

Power comes from Alfa Romeo 156 2.5-litre V6, which gives the right pedigree, feel and of course, sound, while you could also use its rarer, lustier, 3.2-litre variant from the sporty GTA model.

What especially impressed me was the way the car drove. It manages the perfect balance between drivability and performance and I had a real hoot driving the leafy country lanes around Lister Bell’s rural workshop on a lovely sunny morning.

The STR isn’t a parts bin kit either with the company going above and beyond the call of duty tooling up for many of the car’s key components rather going catalogue shopping. Come to think of it they are also producing more minor stuff like their own brackets for items such as washer bottle. They really do go to that much detail…

Major stuff like chassis fabrication and GRP lamination is also handled in-house.

I came away extremely impressed with the Lister Bell STR – and with kit packages starting at £3500, which gets you started on the chassis build, with a further series of modules available as and when required. You can, if you prefer, go for the comprehensive kit at £25,200 inc VAT. To self-build an example such as that pictured here would require a budget of circa £30,000…

More information from www.listerbell.com or 07990 543 517 ENDS.