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|Devin SS |
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|1959 Devin SS Sports Racing Car|
Metallic Blue Livery with Black Interior
Bill Devin was a dedicated American racer who logged his first major victory arm wrestling a heavily modified Crosley Hot Shot to a first place finish in the 1949 Pebble Beach road race. With the early 1950s came a golden era for sports car racing in America- a time when ingenious, well equipped privateers could successfully compete against the best European and domestic automobile manufactures could offer. Devin was in the right place, at the right time, and with the help of Irishman Malcom MacGregor, produced a car that raced successfully in SCCA C-modified class against Ferrari's, Lister's, and Maserati's.
Devin had been producing attractive, durable, light weight fiberglass bodies, which were sold as a kit, and fitted to a variety of chassis by their owners. Towards the latter half of the 1950s, MacGregor, a very gifted engineer who later worked for Ford of Europe, produced a tubular chassis for Devin, very similar to those later used by Carol Shelby on the legendary Cobra. These new chassis incorporated every desirable late 1950’s racing car specification into a state of the art design. They included an independent suspension in the front and a De Dion tube setup in the rear. Steering was through a rack-and-pinion unit. 12 inch Girling disc brakes provided ample stopping power while the Dunlop wire wheels held the car firmly in place under heavy cornering. Around fifteen chassis were sent to Devin who finished them with Chevrolet V8 power, Borg Warner transmission, and his very own lightweight bodies. These cars that had the style, sophistication, and performance of a Ferrari, but sold for less than half the price.
In competition, the Devin was an almost immediate success with Pete Woods driving his car to the Sports Car Club of America C-modified National Championship. Other owners converted their cars into aggressive street machines, blending European styling with American hot rod performance and reliability. Road & Track’s road tested an SS in July of 1959 and recorded: 0-60 in 7 seconds, the ¼ mile in 14 seconds at 95 mph and a top speed of 131 mph!
This particular Devin SS, s/n SR4-5, is the 11th of the 15 built in period, according to the historical file accompanying the car. It was Equipped for period competition by the original owner, Tom Rutherford, who is best known for piloting his D Type Jag at Bonneville in 1960 for a try at the C-Sports Racing speed record. This is the only Devin SS equipped with a 2-speed quick change rear, a rare item produced by Harley Klentz. This quick change rear end may have been intended for use in speed attempts at Bonneville, although there is no record of this car’s results there.
The second owner, Leonard Janke, never got around to racing the Devin as he also discovered the new mid-engined McLarens about this time. So the Devin was tucked away next to Leonard’s first race car, a Healey 100-4, in his warehouse in Pender, Nebraska. It sat there untouched for over 30 years!
In 1990, previous owner Mike Fuchs discovered this time capsule Devin and after arduous negotiations, purchased this rare car from Leonard, making Fuchs only the third owner. Fuchs commissioned Orion Engineering to perform a comprehensive competition restoration. This work included consultation with Bill Devin directly, who supplied his original chassis drawings to assist in the restoration. As irregularities in the chassis dimensions were noted after many years of competition, much of the original tubular chassis was remanufactured at Bill Devin’s request, while original portions were retained where appropriate considering safety and performance. After two years of no expense spared restorative work, s/n SR4-5 was returned to its former glory. Since, the Devin has been raced throughout the Midwest with SRVA and HSR, winning the Judges Choice Concours Award at the Walter Mitty at Road Atlanta. More recently in the West, the Devin SS raced with RMVR, and VARA. This Devin SS has been pictured in several Vintage Motorsport annuals, and was on the cover of the July 1999 issue of Victory Lane, photographed during the last Steamboat Springs RMVR race.
Today, the restoration work done by previous owner Mike Fuchs still has a fresh appearance. All visual aspects of the car; paint, interior, and engine bay display outstanding racing/tour cosmetics. The car is nice enough to be concourse shown, where it is sure to garner much positive attention.
As would be expected, this Devin SS is very exciting to drive. Restored, for the most part, with vintage racing competition in mind, the car also makes for a raucous street machine, just as it did in period. Kline Engineering built Chevrolet small block with triple Strombergs provides ample acceleration, while the four wheel disc brakes are a welcome improvement over the drum brakes standard on most cars of this era. The transmission, clutch, and balance of the drivetrain, are all operating without issue.
Included with the car is a large historical file containing bills of sale from previous owners, documentation back to the 1960s, a photo essay of the restoration work, magazine articles, an original July 1959 Road and Track with the Devin SS road test, and historic racing results. Also present is an original windscreen, with a Bonneville related tech sticker.
This authentic, comprehensively restored, Devin SS is a fast, reliable, and economical vehicle with which to participate in rally events or vintage racing. It has been fitted with a full width windscreen, cockpit heat barrier shielding, and head lamps for road events. Alternatively, it could be concours displayed as a technically interesting and beautiful example from a golden age of American road racing.
Sold on the 27.03.2013
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