Shed Find: 1966 Costin-Nathan Works Prototype

1966 Costin-Nathan

Costin isn’t a brand that many people know about these days, but if you’ve every heard of Marcos or Cosworth, then in some ways you already know a little about the company. You see the Costin brothers started racing cars shortly after WWII and in the mid ’60s they decided to start their own racing company. They had some success, but it was their other endeavors that most people know about. Mike went on to start Cosworth (guess where “Cos” in Cosworth comes from?) and Frank partnered up with Roger Nathan to build a prototype race car, which is the car you see above. Frank went on to start Marcos, Mike had lots of success with Cosworth and this poor prototype ended up in a shed!

1966 Costin Interior

Forty five years later and the prototype isn’t in very good shape, but boy did it fetch some serious money this past weekend at the H&H auction. When the finally hammer dropped, it had been bid up to over $90,000, with fees the buyer ended up paying just over $105,000! Why would anyone pay so much for a worn out old race car you might ask? Calling this car special would be a bit of an understatement to say the least!

1966 Costin Engine

This car has serious pedigree. Frank wasn’t just a car guy with a dream, he worked at Lotus prior to designing the car. He followed the same principals with this car as he did when he designed a Lotus, keep it simple and make it light. Weighing in well below a thousand pounds, with fluids, this thing is a featherweight. Power came from a 1 liter Hillman Imp engine that Roger Nathan tuned. If you don’t know who Roger is, he made a name for himself racing a Lotus Elite and a Brabham BT8. His tuned Imp engine churned out 97 horsepower, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s nearly 100 horses per liter!

1966 Costin-Nathan Racer

With the engine in the car, Costin-Nathan hit the track running. They had a few mechanical hiccups, but with Roger at the wheel, they saw considerable success. Eventually the car was fitted with a more powerful 1600 Ford Twin Cam, which is still in it today. Sadly, this engine had serious mechanical issues for the next owner Chris Meek and the car was sold off. The engine was rebuilt by the next owner, but it never saw the track ever again. It’s sad to see it in such a state now, but thankfully the new owner plans on fully restoring it to it’s original glory! This is one I sure would love to watch come together. So do any of you remember seeing this car race in ’66?

Special thanks to our friends at BoldRide for this tip!

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Comments

  1. LD

    Great find, wonder what the specific race history showed , would be great to know the events it raced in

  2. Rovinman

    Some race history, : 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, before it was sold on to GM Horsley in 1967, who then changed the engine to a Lotus twin-cam engine, Unfortunately it never did as well as when Nathan drove it !

  3. Rick

    Always wondered what make and model some of those diecast metal tootsietoy racecars were I had as a kid

  4. Van

    Talk about cornering like a go cart.
    Can’t decide if it’s ugly or quite.
    Leaning towards ugly.
    It’s a cross between a Europa and a Porsche 906, when a bunch of drunks stumble out of a pub and want to get high on fiberglass resin fumes.

  5. wuzjeepnowsaab

    “Meet George Jetson…”

  6. 68 custom

    deserves a complete restoration, racing history right there.

  7. Dolphin Member

    The Costin name is legendary in British racing history, and it outperformed for its time, but….I don’t believe I would be thinking up excuses to go out to the shop just to putter around it the way I would for a lot of other cars I can think of.

    It’s a piece of British racing history that looks best from the cockpit looking out while you are leading a pack of vintage racers. I hope it goes to someone who will get it back into shape and use it on the track. Considering the money someone paid for it I think that’s probably what will happen.

  8. joe

    Looks like it got parked for years – nose down, in a mud hole. Restored, it’ll be worth a bunch.

  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    lets go Pebble Beach here we come !

  10. Jeff Hamilton

    Here’s a cutaway of Costin-Nathan Sports-Racing Car aka the “topless” model….:)

    http://i.wheelsage.org/pictures/prochie/costin_nathan_gt/autowp.ru_prochie_costin_nathan_gt_1.jpg

  11. Arthur Brown

    Remember that the chassis is Plywood like in the Marcos.

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