I don’t know about you but when my wife and I drive down some quiet street many times my wife talks comments on how beautiful the homes are but I am one of those people who just can’t seem to see the forest for the trees and all I can think about is… “What’s parked in that garage?” It never ceases to amaze me how many exotic, classic, or antique rides get locked away and all too often forgotten about and just once in a great while when someone opens their garage door we get can get a glimpse that can make your heart stop beating.
Today as I rode my bike by one of my friends house just such an event took place. When he waved at me to come on inside his open garage door I could see him working away on a friends car that was just the sort of car that grabs any gear-head’s attention. It was a 1 of 15 ever built 1958 Devin SS and what a heat stopper it was indeed. If you think Shelby was the first car builder to put a fiberglass body on a European car chassis and then soup it up then guess again.
During the late 50’s Ferrari’s were the performance car to be beat but they were known to be expensive so being the good businessman he was, Bill Devin decided to exploit what he considered to be just as competitive of a race car but at half the cost. Ferrari’s in the same class were selling for $12,000 but a completed Devin SS race car only set you back $6000. About this time Irishman Malcom MacGregor approached him regarding a sports car he had manufactured but was without a body and some racing history was written.
Not only was Bill Devin a well known racer but in fact he won the very first Pebble Beach race in 1949. Interestingly enough, he started his fiberglass business selling fiberglass bodies for less than $300 each. By the end of the 50’s he was shipping almost 100 bodies a week all over the world.
There were only 15 Devin SS models built between 1957 ands 1959 and they were sold as ready to race or for street. The tube chassis were built in Belfast Ireland by Malcolm MacGregor. The front suspension was fabricated using equal length parallel A-arms, coil over springs and shocks and 13 inch Girling disc brakes. The rear axle used a pair of adjustable trailing arms on each side of a three inch Dion tube with inboard disc brakes. Steering was done with a rack and pinion unit and Dunlop wire wheels helped put it on the ground.
After the tube chassis was completed they were shipped to Devin’s factory in California where they were fitted with a 339 CI Chevrolet (375 HP) complete with Rochester fuel injection, T10-4 speed, Corvette rear end and then fiberglass bodies were installed and completed with chrome side pipes.
Devin’s raced successfully in SCCA C/Modified class against Maseratis and Ferraris. Andy Porterfield who was the winningest driver in SCCA history was the original Devin factory driver and Pete Woods won the 1959 Cal Club C/Modified Championship.
You can still see some of these rare beauties race at the Monterey Historic’s. As a mater of fact, Andy Porterfield drove one in the 2006 Monterey Historic’s Race and the one in these photos ran at the Monterey Historic’s as well as other racing events which really gets me excited since I am a real advocate of driving beautiful machinery and not putting them in some museum to die a quiet death. In the mean time other Devin SS’s continue to run at many of the great historic race events such as The Monterey Historic’s, The Coronado Festival and The Wine Country Classic just to name a few. During the 2006 RM Auction in Monterey one of them was expected to sell for $385,000 with no reserve but the winning bidder took it home for a mere $247,500. In the meantime I will continue to listen to my wife comment on how beautiful that particular house is as we drive down some of those quite streets but my mind will still be asking, “I wonder what’s in THAT garage?”