COSTIN NATHAN RACE EMERGES AFTER 45 YEARS
A fine example of a car that burst onto the 1960’s racing scene – the Costin Nathan – will be sold by H&H Classics after it emerged from a 45- year slumber in a garage. It was discovered by a house clearance company in Manchester and will be sold by H&H at their Chateau Impney Hillclimb sale in the Midlands on 10th July.
Racing as both a Spyder and GT in period, the two-seater now requires total restoration. Appearing to be substantially complete, it is estimated to fetch £25,000 - £30,000 and comes with a highly prized Hewland MK5 gearbox and Ford-based Twin-Cam engine in pieces.
The car on offer is the original Works Prototype as raced with considerable success by Roger Nathan in 1966. Bought by the present owner (deceased) on 6th January 1967, without the initial Imp engine, it was given a Twin-Cam powerplant coupled to a Hewland Mk 5 transmission.
The driver was to be Chris Meek and the car was further modified with a hard-top to allow it to run as a GT. A large folder of correspondence charts the trials and tribulations of the next three years which added but a single class win at Snetterton in May 1967 to the two-seater’s impressive racing resume.
A collaboration between legendary engineer / aerodynamicist Frank Costin and gifted racer / tuner Roger Nathan, work on the nascent Costin-Nathan project began in 1965 with the prototype making its debut at the following January’s Racing Car Show. Like several of Costin’s previous designs, the newcomer featured a lightweight central monocoque tub fabricated from plywood with tubular steel sub-frames attached fore and aft. The resultant structure was not only commendably light but also reputed to be capable of handling 350hp! Not able to get quite that power from a Hillman Imp engine, Roger Nathan was nevertheless able to coax a reliable 100bhp / per litre out of the advanced all-alloy four-cylinder unit. Mid-mounted and canted over by 54 degrees, the 998cc powerplant was allied to a close-ratio gearbox. Weighing in at just 700lbs and boasting all-round independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and magnesium alloy wheels, the Costin-Nathan proved prodigiously fast.
Clothed in aluminium where its later production siblings used fibreglass, the Works Prototype achieved considerable success with Roger Nathan behind the wheel. Initially configured as a Spider, it recorded five class wins and a second-in-class during 1966; the undoubted highlight of which was Nathan’s victory in the Coupe de Paris on 25th September ahead of fierce Fiat-Abarth Works opposition. Keen to raise funds and with an entry for the Le Mans 24-hours already in his sights, Nathan sold the Works Prototype to G.M. Horsley on 6th January 1967. The latter engaged the services of Chris Meek as a driver, installed a more powerful Lotus Twin-Cam engine and had the bodywork updated by Nathan to enclosed GT specification. However, various teething problems and some bad luck meant that the Works Prototype was never as successful in its revamped guise; Chris Meek scoring but one further class win at Snetterton during 1967.
Retired after a few frustrating seasons, the Costin-Nathan remained in G.M. Horsley’s care and was left to slumber for almost half a century until being released by his estate. A unique proposition that if properly restored would be welcome at some of the world’s most prestigious historic race meetings, the Works Prototype is now coming to market for the first time in forty-nine years!
FOR SALE: 10th July 2016
VENUE: Chateau Impney Hill Climb Auction
Soundtrack written and performed by T.W. Jones of Quaintest Show On Earth (C) 2016. Download the full version here: https://qsoe.bandcamp.com/track/le-coupe-de-france
Commemorative Art of the Costin Nathan beautifully depicted by our Automotive Artist-In-Residence, Martin Tomlinson (C) 2016.
Find us on social media for all the latest news and announcements.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/handhauctions - @handhauctions
H&H Classics: Auctioneers For The Classic Collector. (C) H&H Classics 2016. All Rights Reserved. http://www.HandH.co.uk/