In the new frontier of American sports car racing in the early 1950s, Bill Devin was a tremendously influential character who played a significant role in developing our home-grown sports car market. Devin was a talented engineer and an active participant in motorsports – graduating in short order from a 1949 Crosley to a Ferrari 166MM Touring Barchetta. As an engineer, he was an innovator – creating the first belt-driven overhead-cam automobile engine in 1955 – but he never patented it! Devin also had a keen eye for style and design, and he found particular success with his popular line of Eurpean-style lightweight fiberglass sports car bodies, which budding racers could purchase on their own or in kit form to fit virtually any chassis from Crosley to Corvette to Bandini.
Devin progressed from producing bodies alone to selling purpose-built turn-key sports cars and home-built kits. The ultimate Devin was the front-engine S.S. which featured a tubular chassis designed by Bill Devin, Noel Hillis, and Malcolm MacGregor. The S.S. was a brutal machine with small-block Chevrolet power, de Dion rear axle, and carefully selected off-the-shelf chassis components. Devin later offered the VW/Porsche-based Devin D and the Corvair-powered Devin C, becoming one of the first American tuners to take advantage of the revolutionary new Chevy’s performance potential, pairing the air-cooled flat-six with a featherweight chassis.
Most of Devin’s production consisted of the so-called “Devin Specials” – the home-built cars using Devin bodies atop myriad chassis. Our featured example is one such car, known as the “Gary Special,” after its builder and first owner, James Gary. While titled as a 1957, it is believed the body is from 1955 and was fitted to a Triumph TR3 chassis. James Gary entered the car in several West Coast SCCA events, often with Donald McQuilken doing the driving duties. By the early-mid 1960s, the Devin had changed hands and made its way to Chicago, where it continued racing and evolving. The early Triumph chassis was updated to a stronger TR4 type, and it is believed that around this time, the car first received a Buick 215 V8 engine, transforming it into a formidable track weapon.
By the late 1960s, the Devin was in Canada, eventually finding its way to Nova Scotia, where it was discovered in the early 2000s. After being repatriated, it was completely restored and extensively updated for fast road/rally use. The Buick V8 was replaced with a similar Rover-spec unit, updated to 4.1 liters, or about 250 cubic inches. Twin side exhausts and beefy, double-laced 72-spoke chrome wire wheels with 225-section tires give the Devin a tough and purposeful stance. Also part of the restoration was the addition of a custom instrument panel, placing a speedometer and fabulous Breitling chronograph ahead of the co-driver.
Overall, the restoration is finished to a high standard, and the beautiful Devin body wears outstanding paintwork and plenty of racy, period-style details. Road equipment includes headlights, taillights, and turn signals, while twin aero windscreens and rollover hoops provide a modicum of protection for the driver and co-driver. The cockpit is trimmed in black upholstery, with neat Devin-embroidered headrests and four-point harnesses. The soft trim is crisp and tidy, showing virtually no signs of use.
Beneath the clamshell bonnet sits the 4.1-liter Rover V8, supplied by leading aluminum V8 specialists D&D Fabrications of Almont, Michigan. The engine is equipped with Offenhauser valve covers and intake manifold, MSD ignition, and a chrome alternator, and is backed by a 4-speed T-10 manual. With a curb weight of approximately 1600 pounds, the Devin is thrilling to drive, with sharp handling and abundant horsepower.
With its exotic, Italianate bodywork and robust American V8 heart, this beautiful Devin S is an exciting prospect for rallies, canyon carving, and turning heads at your local Cars & Coffee events.
Please note car is sold on a Bill of Sale.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7512
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