The 1950s ushered in an era of sports car racing that the world was unlikely to see again. Following World War II, young GIs returning to the United States brought with them a passion for sports cars that was instilled in them during their times abroad. From the end of the war through the 1960s, the sports car scene grew fiercely throughout America. Racing circuits were paved out from Watkins Glen, to Road America, and all the way to Laguna Seca in California where car culture was already well underway.
The sport soon trickled down from big budget professional racing teams to independent builders that wished to take their own turn at the sport. Bill Devin of Rocky, Oklahoma, was one of the forefathers of amateur sports car racing. He was out on his own mission to enable enthusiasts to take their turn at competitive racing at a reasonable price. For Mr. Devin, his plan began in an old chicken coop where he started experimenting with the new-age technology of fiberglass as a source of body material for cars. He found fiberglass to be far easier to form and much cheaper than aluminum without giving up much in the way of weight. Mr. Devin found his ambitions to be successful, and in 1955, he founded Devin Enterprises Inc. near the heart of the racing scene in El Monte, California.
Devin Enterprises (1955-1964) produced sports car bodies that were designed to fit onto a select list of sports cars, as well as a few cars that utilized his own chassis, which included the costly and legendary Devin SS. A total of 27 variants could be ordered with a base price of a scant $295 without doors. Mr. Devin’s cars were right at home on the track and were known for often beating the far more expensive cars produced by Lester, Maserati, and even the king of the era, Ferrari. During the life of Devin Enterprises, their cars competed in 136 SCCA races with a total of 43 podium finishes including 32 overall victories and even a National Championship title in 1956. Bill Devin has since passed, but in the likes of Briggs Cunningham and Carrol Shelby, he is remembered as one of the key influencers of the American sports car racing scene and has been appropriately dubbed by Car and Driver as “The Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats.”
The Devin bodied Austin-Healey being offered here epitomizes what was found in the SCCA paddocks in a bygone era. As most Devin cars started life in a different form, our car started life as a standard Austin-Healey 100-6. It is believed to have received its Devin body conversion sometime during the 1970s in preparation for competition by a racing team in Minnesota. The Devin was raced in many events across America from the western Palm Springs Grand Prix all the way to the eastern Grand Bahamas Speed Week. During a race at Road America in 1999, a deal was made in the paddocks and the car changed hands. With the new owner, the Devin made an appearance on the cover of “British Car” magazine in 2001 and saw continued use at SCCA racing events. In 2011, the most recent owner acquired the car and used it in historic rally events, including two completions of the Colorado Grand.
Currently, the car carries a correct pair of 2” SU carburetors mated to a Denis Welch inlet manifold, which has been further modified for even greater air flow. On the outlet side, the exhaust flows through a masterfully crafted 6-into-1 exhaust system constructed in stainless-steel tubing. These modifications, in addition to auxiliary oil coolers and a Mallory multi-spark ignition system, help to greatly improve the performance of the car. A recent dyno chart shows that this car is up from the originally advertised 102 horsepower to a healthy 124 horsepower and a thumping 149 foot pounds of torque! While a standard Austin-Healey 100-6 is a complete joy to drive, this car has greatly improved performance under the bonnet and carries a far sleeker and more lightweight body than the original steel shell that a standard 100-6 would carry.
The panel fit is good and the paint is in excellent condition having been repainted recently in Aston Martin green, appropriately paying homage to its racing roots in England. Showing only light wear the interior presents itself properly with a very business-like layout as a proper sports car should have. Featuring Raydot mirrors, leather deck lid straps, covered headlights, and a Monza inspired fuel cap, this Devin-Healey is a very well-sorted example that is ready to be campaigned in exclusive historic driving events or welcomed on any show field as a significant reminder of a former era.
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