Unique British Race Car From the 1960s Auctioned For More Than $100k
1966 Costin-Nathan prototype finds a new home after 45 years in storageby Ciprian Florea, on
In recent years there has been a surge in barn finds, with all sorts of expensive vehicles, including Ferraris, Maseratis, and Bugattis, discovered after spending decades in storage. The vehicle pictured above is not on the high-priced side of the automotive industry, but it’s definitely one of the rarest race cars you can find in an old, forgotten garage. How rare it is? Well, it’s actually unique, because it’s the original prototype version of a race car that Frank Costin and Roger Nathan developed in the 1960s.
For the uninitiated, Frank Costin was an automotive engineer who advanced monocoque chassis design and is considered instrumental in adapting aircraft aerodynamics for automobile use. He worked for Lotus and designed many bodies for sports and Formula One cars. His brother, Mike, founded Cosworth together with Keith Duckworth. Roger Nathan, on the other hand, was a prominent figure in British racing scene between 1961 and 1970, driving for Brabham and Lotus, among other makes.
Back to our vehicle in question, it was built and raced with considerable success in between 1966 and 1968, scoring two overall wins, five class wins, and four podiums in 19 events. In 1967 it was raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it failed to finish. The car reportedly spent its last 45 years in a garage, being unearthed after its owner, who purchased it in 1967, died. H&H Classics sold it for over £81,224 (about $107,000) in July, significantly more than the original estimate £25,000 to £30,000 (around $32,900 to $39,500). Although it’s in dire need of a restoration, the car appears to be complete and it comes with an iconic Hewland MK5 gearbox and Ford-sourced Twin-Cam engine in pieces.
“It is an amazing restoration project and a true ’barn find’ slumbering in the late owner’s garage for the last 45 years. This is quite a special car. It is the original Works Prototype as driven with success by Roger himself in ’66. I’m probably dewy eyed having raced one quite extensively in the 60’s. From a personal angle, the car is an Imp-engined GT was a delight to drive, very quick in its class with neutral handling and my car did the Targa Florio, the Montjuich 12 hours and an event at Anderstorp in Sweden without any mechanical problems whatsoever," said former race driver, John Markey, who runs the H&H Classics Hindhead Surrey operation.
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Why it matters
Granted, £81,000 is not a lot of cash for a 1960s race car with some pedigree and success on the track, but the low sticker comes from the fact that it has been sitting unrestored for more than four decades. Also, while both Costin and Nathan have been at the top of their leagues back in the day, the Costin-Nathan brand doesn’t mean much when compared to Lotus, Ferrari, or Jaguar. On the other hand, this car is extremely valuable to classic racing enthusiasts, especially those that appreciate the golden era of motorsport when the big companies were challenged by small privateers, often referred to as "Garagistas," such as Costin-Nathan. And, even though it lacks the brand cachet of other racing stables from the 1960s, this car right here can brag about defeating a handful of Lotus racers and even a Ford GT40 on Britain’s most legendary tracks. This prototype is definitely worthy of a professional restoration and entries at events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed.