At the Racing Car Show 19 January 1966
Roger Nathan had made a name for himself in the early sixties racing Lotus Elites and then set up in business developing tuning kits for Imps.
In 1965 he colaborated with Frank Costin in the design and development of an Imp engined sports-racing car. The chassis and bodyshell of the Costin-Nathan Imp was based on the design of the Costin Sports Racer by Frank Costin.
|Frank Costin is the well-known aerodynamacist responsible for the design of many early Lotuses, the Grand Prix Vanwall and the Costin-Amigo. He is the brother of Mike Costin, the 'Cos' in Cosworth and is of course himself the 'Cos' in Marcos.|
On the prototype the body was an open two seater, but later models were coupes with typically Costin rounded aerodynamic bodies. The Racing Car Show of 1966 had an Imp-engined Costin-Nathan sports-car on display. This was the first time (January 19) it was seen in public. Those of the racing fraternity could buy it in kit form, with an Imp engine of either 849cc (76.8 bhp) or 998cc (100 bhp) - while weighing in at 700 pounds. It's chassis, a monocoque centre section between multitubular end frames, is strong enough to take a 2 litre BRM engine.
The cars were raced largely in Britain in 1966 and 1967. In '66 Nathan raced the open car six times and won his class five times and was second once. He also set five new class lap records. Roger Nathan won in October 1966 the Coupe de Vitesse (Paris) having left the field far behind - including the works Abarths.
based on Wedstrijdsportwagens, deel 2 / Hans Peters. - 1967
The Costin-Nathan sports prototype - new £2150
Behind it stands the topless Nathan Imp
The car made its debut at Brands Hatch in April 1966. Roger Nathan tuned the Imp engine and Frank Costin provided the expertise in aerodynamics.
The central section of the chassis is made of plywood, treated with resin. At the front and rear tubular frames are bolted to the wood with six bolts each. This has the advantage that, in case of misfortune, one of the frames will remain undamaged - which saves costs. The chassis is strong enough for engines up to 350bhp.
The tubular wheel conductors are of unequal length.
It has anti-roll bars both at the front and the rear.
The 13" magnesium wheels have 6" rims, 7" on the back. Girling disc brakes (with AR pads up front and NR pads on the rear), with a disc diameter of 241,3 mm. Race tyres by Dunlop, MK II 5.00x13 R7 on the front wheels, 5.50 on the rear ones.
The bodywork is made entirely of fibreglass. The hinges are on the front side of the doors -- earlier models had them at the rear, which was prohibited by 1966.
The car was displayed at the 1967 Racing Car Show. Motor Racing wrote:
The Costin-Nathan was another interesting newcomer, sleek in line, despite rather thick door pillars; and obviously efficient aerodynamically.
Another sports-racer developed into a coupé. The Costin-Nathan Imp-powered monocoque looks a potent contender in the small-capacity Group 6 classes this season.
In Motor Racing of March 1967, Nick Brittan wrote:
Independent goes Group 6
Roger Nathan did a roaring trade at the Racing Car Show with both his little Costin-Nathan sports car and the new Group 6 coupé - basically the sports car with a roof on. Both were being offered in ready-to-race trim for around the £2000 mark, and this seems like good value for money. His twin overhead camshaft conversion for the Imp engine aroused a lot of interest, too. For someone who hasn't got vast financial backing or works support, he's doing rather well and I know that he is very well thought of by Rootes. Since he has gone into the sports car field, many people have forgotten that Roger was the first man to field an Imp on the race track in any sort of competitive form.
"When the Fraser team came on the scene, I couldn't match their financial resources, so I decided to concentrate on the sports car field", Roger told me. And very well he's doing too. But his efforts with the Imp haven't been completely wasted, for he sells dozens of Imp engine conversion kits every week.
A Nathan goes north
One of the Costin-Nathan Group 6 cars sold at the Racing Car Show will be heading northward soon into the stable of Robin Curtis-Smith. Robin, an exiled Londoner living in Liverpool where he runs a real estate business, has bought the car to replace his old faithful Cortina, which has been a familiar sight for three seasons in its red and white livery.
"Last season we did 36 races with it and were placed 35 times. But it's getting a bit weak around the joints now, so I guess we'll send it out to pasture." If he can find a good one, Robin intends to add a Galaxie to the stable as well. 'Yogi' Muir proved that a good one can still give the Mustangs a run for their money, until he reduced the Willment one to a smoking heap of brakeless rubble at Oulton last year. Robin is about the right size for a Galaxie, although I am not sure how easily he is going to fit into the little Costin-Nathan.
Williams and Pritchard, Edmonton
Len Pritchard and Charlie Williams who did production work for Lotus and Lister and many jobs besides. They also had fine eyes for designs and they were involved in the development of the cars they were approched to do the panels for. People gave them outlines and they advised on what would or would not work. The exquisite Lotus 16 'Mini-VanWall', which has often been attrubuted to Frank Costin, was the work of Charlie Williams, based on an idea by Colin Chapman. They were also involved in the development of the Lotus Elite - Len Pritchard worked in glass-fibre, too. Frank Costin called them the finest pair of panel bashers you'll ever come across.
In 1959 Frank Costin joined Brian Lister, who built the Lister-Jaguars. Williams &s; Pritchard built those bodies from Costin's drawings.
The Costin connection continued later with the Costin-Nathan cars and the Costin Amigo.
Mr. Pritchard, in an interview in 1989: "All our jigs went years ago. And we did not keep any photographic records, either. We were so busy and involved, it just did not occure to us. So I am having to go by memory. But things happened so fast, that my memories are jumbled. It never occured to us, that what we were making, would one day become classics."
Someone in Kent is in the proces of restoring an Imp-engined Costin-Nathan. (1998-1999)
Someone in Sydney (a gentleman called Bruce ...) is rebuilding a Costin Nathan with Imp power. (He races Lotuses) - according to Dave in Oz on Sat Jul 26, 2008 on the Imp Club Forum
|Roger Nathan standing next to a BMW-engined Costin Nathan.|
The 1967 Le Mans entry of Roger Nathan - just one driver: Jacques Nicolet (French); engineL L4, 1000cc.
Magazine 'Le Mans Classic 2010' shows this photo on page 126 : chapter 1966-1971. Sport Auto : Le magazine officiel 2010 : Le Mans Classic, July
Costin Automotive Racing Products ltd., Little Staughton, Beds. (1971-1972)
Silverstone Test Day : Falcon, Anglia, Berpop, Nathan GT / by Jeremy Walton; driving: Steve Neil; photos: Max Le Grand. - Cars and Car Conversions 1969, Feb. - 147-149
This and future articles, which will deal with each car in more detail.
To try four of the cars that entertained us during '68, amongst them Roger Nathan's 998cc Imp GT. The yellow Motoring News Championship winner was the best prepaired and quickest around that day. Roger used his Nathan GT in the latter part of the '68 season. It was easiest to drive and could outcorner and outbrake all the balloons. Top speed on the long straight was around 120 mph.
Costin-Nathan sports-racing car / by John Blunsden. - Motor Racing 1966, May. - p.?. - [Track Test ; No. ??]
Nathan GT / by John Blunsden. - Motor Racing 1967, September. - p.378-379. - [Motor Racing Track Test ; No. 64]
Silverstone Test Day : Falcon, Anglia, Berpop, Nathan GT / by Jeremy Walton; driving: Steve Neil; photos: Max Le Grand. - Cars and Car Conversions 1969, February. - 147-149
This and future articles, which will deal with each car in more detail.
Silverstone Test Day : Nathan GT / by Jeremy Walton; driving: Steve Neil; photos: Max Le Grand. - Cars and Car Conversions 1969, April. - 345, 347
a letter by Rod Hunt in Impressions, June 1986
An Adventurous Life: The Costin-Nathan Story / Roger Nathan; Stéphane Gutzwiller. - Gutzwiller, 2006. - 162 p.
|The Imp Site
Costin-Nathan GT (this file)
Nathan GT Track Test
Nathan GT group 6 sales brochure
Tuners and builders
What kind of Costin-Nathan GT was entered into the HSCC Silverstone 15th May 2010 (for the Saturday HSCC Guards GT race; Historic Touring Cars on Sunday and others ?)? Not 1000 cc.
Who is Chris Meek? (driver of the first prototype Costin-Nathan)