In 1949 Bill Devin bought a Crosley Hotshot and began to modify it. He installed a cam ground to get more power from the car's 750 cc engine. The first auto race that Devin attended with the car was in 1950. In August 1951 Devin took the modified Hotshot to Buchannan Field and won in the novice race on his first outing as a racing driver. He placed fifth in the main race that same day. Devin would go on to race the Hotshot at tracks like Pebble Beach, Palm Springs, and elsewhere competing and often winning against larger MGs and Jags.
After successful races in his Crosley Hotshot, Bill Devin was hooked on sports car racing and set his sights on Europe. In 1953, he ordered a 2.0 litre 250MM coupe from Ferrari to race at Le Mans. Upon arrival in Italy, Devin was told his 250MM would not be ready in time for Le Mans. Because of this, Devin bought a 2.0 litre Ferrari 166MM Touring Barchetta as well as a 4.1 litre 340 America.
Devin debuted the 250MM at the Sports Car Club of America Madera race where he finished third in the novice event before turning the car over to Phil Hill, who won the main event. The car appeared at a few more events driven either by Devin or his brother Gene before being sold in June 1954. Part of the purchase price of the car was a small French front-wheel drive Deutsch-Bonnet taken in trade. The 250MM was featured on the cover of the July 1955 issue of Road & Track magazine and again in a feature article in the July 1965 issue of the same magazine when it was bought by a new owner.
Loving the history of Devin Sports Cars? Join our email list to follow our story!
In 1954 Devin established Devin Enterprises. The first car was the Devin-Panhard. It was on a chassis of his own design, Devin mounted a body produced from a mold of the Deutsch-Bonnet. To make the body Devin had to teach himself to work in the still relatively new medium of fiberglass. Powering the car was a 745 cc two-cylinder Panhard boxer engine, but Devin made some clever modifications to the engine. He adapted overhead-camshaft cylinder heads from a motorcycle to the engine and then drove the camshafts by a synchronous toothed belt, building the first such engine with a timing belt.
With the Devin-Panhard being a success on the track, Devin enterprises immediately started selling complete kits to race in Class H and G. Following his work on the Devin-Panhards, He began to sell aftermarket fiberglass bodies for custom sports cars. Beginning with a pattern from a small Italian spyder Devin developed a series of 50 sections of molds that allowed him to produce the Devin body in up to 27 different sizes to fit a variety of chassis.
Engineered in Ireland and styled in California
In 1957 Devin partnered with Noel Hillis and Malcolm MacGregor, two racecar drivers from Northern Ireland. The pair developed a cutting-edge chassis with a 90-inch wheelbase and fully independent suspension all around. It also had full disc brakes and a unique engine position. All the car needed was a body up to par with the Le Mans racing cars of the time, which Devin was happy to provide. The result was the Devin SS, a car that could compete with Ferraris for a fraction of the price.
In 1959, Road & Track said the following about the Devin SS, "the GT Ferrari and Corvette owners can kiss that first-place [SCCA] cup goodbye." And so in 1958, the Devin SS began its time on the track in the SCCA.
Ak Miller was a California Hot-rodder with an international racing pedigree. He raced in everything from the Mille Miglia to the Carrera Panamericana. While successful in most races, nothing compared to his record at Pikes Peak, having won six times in the unlimited sports car division. His Cobra-powered Devin SS was the fiberglass horse that won him the titles between 1958 and 1966.
Ak Miller scales Pikes Peak and sets a record in his Devin SS
After the successful SS, Devin began work on the Devin D. The Devin D was to be offered at a lower price than the SS. The Devin D used a Devin chassis and another new body. This car's suspension was made up of Volkswagen parts, while power was provided by a rear-mounted engine from Porsche.
Shortly after Chevrolet released their Corvair, Devin launched the Devin C with the same body as the Devin D but a new chassis adapted to use the six-cylinder boxer engine from the Corvair. The Devin C was also the basis of a new premium hard-top model called the Devin GT and was the first to include a turbo charger.
Henry N. Manney III, Car & Driver
Bill Devin passed away in November of 2000, but his legacy of Devin Enterprises still lives on. His mentality and keen eye for racing remain at the core of Devin Sports Cars.
Bill's efforts led to Devin Sports Cars competing in 136 SCCA races between 1955 and 1963, winning first thirty-two times, second eight times, and third three times.
Today, Devin Sports Cars is managed by Kevin Callahan. The new production shop is located in Abington, Pa, and is capable of producing all new parts from the original Devin fiberglass molds and specifications.
When I purchased Devin Sports Cars, I knew that I wanted it to be based upon two things - an excellent product and top-tier customer service. Whether it's your Devin Street or Racecar, Devin Sports Cars will strive to go above and beyond to deliver the best results possible - let us help you build the car you always dreamed to own!
Check out Kevin's 1956 Devin Triumph TR3. It has the engine and suspension from a TR3 and the stylish fiberglass body of a Devin. It's the ultimate beach cruiser! (video courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum)
At Devin Sports Cars, we are continuing to produce classic racing cars. We're currently building 15 continuation cars that are made to spec from plans, molds, and original parts from the 1950s.