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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Timeless Excellence: The Legendary Costin-Nathan GT and Its Iconic Wooden Chassis

Hidden GEMS - The enchanting realm of classic cars often unveils astonishing stories, and amidst the Le Mans Classic event, a captivating piece of automotive history stood tall - the Costin-Nathan GT, adorned with a wooden chassis, reminiscent of a bygone era yet rich in technological marvels.
The Costin-Nathan GT (in pictured is 1968 model) adorned with a wooden chassis, reminiscent of a bygone era yet rich in technological marvels.. (Picture from: Pinterest)
The inception of the Costin-Nathan GT is intertwined with the illustrious Costin brothers, Frank and Mike, revered names in motorsport circles. Mike's legacy with Cosworth and Frank's contributions to Marcos epitomize their prowess. Frank's venture with Roger Nathan birthed the Costin-Nathan marque, a fusion of engineering brilliance and racing passion.
The 1966 Costin-Nathan Spider, piloted by Nathan, dominated the 1L category in England with 5 victories in 6 races, but its true breakthrough came in 1967. (Picture from: NewsDanCiennes)
The genesis of the Costin-Nathan marque dates back to 1965 when Roger Nathan approached Frank Costin with a vision to craft a lightweight vehicle housing Nathan's renowned Hillman Imp engine. The result was a symbiotic alliance, yielding a spider variant in 1966 boasting a wooden chassis, a rarity even in those days.
The Costin-Nathan GT made its official debut at the 1966 London Racing Car Show, following the triumphant performance of its sibling, the Costin-Nathan Spider, which dominated the 1L category in England. (Picture from: NewsDanCiennes)
Unlike its contemporaries like Morgans, the Costin-Nathan embraced a wooden core, showcasing Frank Costin's ingenuity. The wooden chassis, crafted meticulously from plywood, offered a blend of rigidity akin to aluminum but with a distinct cost advantage.
The 1967 Costin-Nathan GT in action at the 1000km Nürburging of 1967 racing event with Michael-Bratz behind the wheel. (Picture from: NewsDanCiennes)
Mounted on tubular trellises at each end, housing the nimble Hillman Imp engine producing 97 horsepower per liter, the Costin-Nathan Spider was a force to reckon with on the tracks. Its featherweight of 400 kilograms, coupled with the spirited engine, ensured a thrilling performance, evident in Nathan's victories on English circuits.
The 1967 Costin-Nathan GT in action at the 1967 24-Hours of Le Mans racing event with Eric della Faille behind the wheel. (Picture from: NewsDanCiennes)
The watershed moment arrived in 1967 with the introduction of the Costin-Nathan GT, a coupe designed to conquer the GT class on the European stage. Its debut at prestigious events like Le Mans and Nürburgring marked a bold stride towards international acclaim.
The 1967 Costin-Nathan GT in action at the 1967 Montlhéry racing event with Eric della Faille behind the wheel. (Picture from: NewsDanCiennes)
Despite initial teething issues like a relative lack of straight-line speed, the Costin-Nathan GT showcased remarkable potential. Roger Nathan's perseverance led to further iterations, expanding the marque's footprint with 18 cars produced in 1968, known interchangeably as Costin-Nathan GT or Astra, some featuring upgraded powertrains for enhanced performance.
The Costin-Nathan GT (in pictured is 1968 model), a racing coupe engineered by Frank Costin and housing Roger Nathan's famed Hillman Imp engine, was specifically designed to dominate the GT class in European racing circuits. (Picture from: AscottCollection)
The subsequent years witnessed a flurry of racing engagements across England and continental Europe, with notable finishes at iconic races like the Targa Florio and Nürburgring, solidifying the Costin-Nathan's legacy as a formidable contender in motorsport's golden era.
The Costin-Nathan GT demonstrated remarkable potential, with Roger Nathan's perseverance leading to further iterations and the production of 18 cars in 1968, expanding the marque's influence. (Picture from: AscottCollection)
While the Costin-Nathan GT differs in appearance from Frank Costin's earlier designs, it incorporates elements familiar to him. The plywood central chassis is reminiscent of Marcos, seen in models like the Xylon, Luton Gullwing, and Fastback GT. Tubular subframes support the suspension at both ends, housing the engine centrally, with lightweight steel tubes forming the running gear and engine support lattice.
As the 1970s dawned, the Costin-Nathan marque continued to etch its name in racing annals, leaving an indelible mark on automotive enthusiasts and historians alike, a testament to the timeless allure of classic racing pedigree intertwined with pioneering engineering feats. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NEWSDANCIENNES | COACHBUILD | ASCOTTCOLLECTION ]
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