Corvette Powered: 1958 Devin Special

1958 Devin Special

We’ve seen quite a few of these Devin kit cars over the years and while every single one of them is special, this one didn’t really catch my attention until I took a closer look at the ad and realized that a complete Corvette engine with 4 speed transmission come with it! It is believed that this car was assembled in 1958, but is based on a ’53 MG TD. The Corvette 283 engine is date coded as a 1958, so does that mean this car was built to use this engine from day one? Well, we don’t know for sure, but it sure would be awesome to have it under the hood! You can find this speed demon here on eBay in Atlanta, Georgia with bidding just over $3k.

1958 Devin Special Interior

I honestly can’t imagine what this thing must have been like to drive with that V8. While the ’58 Corvette wasn’t a powerhouse that modern V8s are, it easily put down over 200 horsepower. That’s a lot of power to have in something that weighs less than 2k pounds!

1958 Devin Special Suspension

Even with a 4 cylinder engine, these cars were quick. The MG TD chassis isn’t the most advanced design, but someone updated it with a Watts multi-link rear suspension. That paired with the 10 bolt rear end, it shouldn’t have any problem getting the power to the ground.

1958 Devin V8 Special

The beauty of a car like this is that you have infinite possibilities. You can put it back to the way it was originally built or you can update it with a newer drivetrain. You can paint it any color you like and no matter which route you take, it’s only going to go up in value from here! I’d get that V8 rebuilt, the transmission sorted and get this thing running ASAP, but that’s just me. What would you do with this Special? Would you use the Corvette engine or trade it for something more modern?

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Comments

  1. Mike H. Mike H.

    I’ve never really understood why there is a greater appeal to a Corvette motor than any of the other SBC/BBC motors of similar generations. Unless the motor is the 32 valve ZR-1 (LT5) motor of the 1990-1995 Corvette, I wouldn’t see why the motor being from a Corvette is important to anyone other than someone restoring a Corvette.

    Otherwise, this looks like a cool project. I always wonder about whether any of these kit cars are strong or rigid enough to manage power and torque, but since it’s been done before I’m sure it works out okay. I’d still prefer to have one of the many production cars form an established manufacturer, but that’s literally just my opinion.

  2. Blindmarc

    Love these cars. That 283 and a 4 speed is an early version of what the 260-289 ac shelbys would become.

  3. Bob Baird

    I think “Corvette motor” conjures up the idea of a hihg-performance motor, which many Corvette motors were. I’d guess this is from some other car since it has a two-barrel intake and Corvettes of that period didn’t have the tab on the oil filler tube for the carb return spring. The five-blade fan is 1959 or later and the clutch is ’62 or later. Corvette valve covers were popular to use on any Chevy engine just as they still are!

    Some questions for the experts: (1) How could anyone sit with that lip on the front of the seat bottoms? Was there a thick cushion? (2) I don’t see any inner fenders and the firewall looks like plywood. (3) Are the extra brackets welded on the frame near the axle housing for the original MG one? (4) Shouldn’t the trunk have a bottom over the axle area? (5) Are those chevy brake drums and brake assemblies?

  4. Dave Wright

    Ford guys did the same thing with Thunderbird engines and they were a pure pickup engine.

  5. JohnD

    Agree with Bob. Everyone puts Corvette valve covers on an engine and, viola, it is a Corvette engine. Not sure this car was ever a car, though. The doors appear strapped on, rather than hinged, and there don’t appear to be any rear springs???? Maybe I missed them, but I would want rear springs . . .

  6. Van

    This will make a great looking car.
    Corvette motors have 4 bolt mains, but so do trucks.
    The corvette connection would imply more power, the 2 barrel kills that.
    If it was a vet engine how cool would the correct dual 4s look.
    I’d say get a 010 block, build a 302 (less torque to twist the frame), use the correct dual quad. And period correct wheels.
    Create a fake racing history with a crate that says ACME racing. Maybe Mel Blank driver. “What’s up Doc.”

    • Norm Wrensch

      Small journal Chevy’s never had 4 bolt mains including Corvettes.

  7. Dolphin Member

    The upside is that it’s a Devin, which was based on the shapes of a few mostly Italian sports-racers from the ’50s/’60s. If you could finish it you would have a great roadster to arrive at cars ‘n coffee in. A sturdy roll bar would be a must for me to even think of doing that.

    For me, a few of the downsides are:

    – The seller says “double wishbones” up front. No, not double wishbones. The top “wishbone” is an MG lever-action shock, which were never much good and wore out fast. The bushings will wear and leak, especially with all that SBC weight up front, then lose their oil, then wear some more and are junk. You would need to replace them with real upper wishbones, then fabricate tube shock mounts.

    – Front MG TD drum brakes for a car with a Chevy V8? Nope. Got to be upgraded….a lot.

    – With that big V8 in that tiny engine bay, will that near-horizontal radiator get enough air through it to cool that big V8? You won’t know until the car is finished and out on the road on a hot day. If not, you have no room to tilt it upright. Fans? Maybe, if there’s enough room for them.

    – The dash looks pretty good, but that’s not going to get the car down the road. The buyer will have to ignore the interior and get the structures and systems working so he knows that he actually has a car on his hands.

    – Etc, etc.

  8. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    That most assuredly is NOT an MG chassis judging by the differential picture, could be wrong though. Looks like some MG parts grafted on like the lever shocks but the front crossmember looks far too beefy for the MG.

    Sure it wasn’t a Devin kit set up for an MG engine?

  9. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    This reminded me of a Jamaican fiberglass kit I once saw in Ft Wayne IN for $800 on a Austin Healey chassis with a 283 Chevy SB ENGINE, not motor. A motor runs on electricity boys, rant off. And it probably is a MG chassis, considered a sports car but reasonably priced in the late 50s early 60s for a donor when built. The diff was changed, easy enough. I would keep the 283, get a 4bbl and running, but do a late 70s upgrade with a factory Mustang II front suspension and disc brakes, a period junkyard upgrade. But I really wouldn’t, I have enough projects lined up on my barn found cars, not to mention field finds.

  10. steve

    Someone put some thought into the rear end setup. Looks like an unfinished project. Should be able to verify corvette claims by the engine serial number? Looks unlikely, but would be looking at a full rebuild no matter what.

  11. rangeroger

    Back in the mid-60s a friend of mine had a 1956 Chevy Belair. 265 with a 2 barrel and Powerglide
    . Blew it up. We went to his brother who worked at West Covina Auto parts. Picked up a ’64 Corvette High Performance 327 short block for $16 more than a stock 265 shortblock. Bolted the 265 heads an 2-barrel back on it.
    Raced a guy we worked with who had a new “65 GTO convertible with 4-speed. Beat him. He demanded to see the engine since we had just worked on it. He took a look at hat 2 barrel with oil bath air cleaner and about puked. We never told him what was under those heads and intake.
    Corvette engine was more than just a name.
    Then there was my friend with a Devin on a VW frame with a Porsche Super 90 engine in it. A real V-8 eater.

  12. Doug Towsley

    COOL CAR!!!!. A long ways from turn key or ready for the road but has a ton of potential.
    Im not sold on that MG frame and suspension, I would replace it with something better.

    There IS rear springs! Coils, you can see them clearly, Also looks like some sort of wheel adapters on there. That needs to go along with those drums. Id also want a full or partial cage as well.

    I have had a number of 283s and 327s and if you do your research there is some really cool builds for these motors. Hotted up stock displacements or combo-stroker and short rod motors. Those early Power pak heads, and other stuff make a sweet motor for a small and light car. Instant fun machine.

    This could be a very fun and cool car if done right. Preserve the character while carefully updating and upgrading.

    Those seats WOULD have had a big thick cushion. They might be early MG seats but commonly used were Aircraft bomber seats. Common period fiftys trick.

    Nice find for someone

  13. Doug Towsley

    Apparently a LOT of people agreed that its a cool project, I already deleted it from my bookmarked auction list but look at the final numbers, Got a LOT of bids and finished just north of $10,000 IIRC, However last time I looked it said “Reserve not met” so what the heck????? I was thinking that was a Win-Win for buyers and sellers, but perhaps an unrealistic seller? Might still find a home if a deal is made otuside FeeBay

  14. PAW

    Out of curiosity; is it possible (legally) to re-register a car like this one to be a Devin instead of donor MG TD?

    Why? As MG TD with such an engine and chassis will be impossible to register in most places. Devin w.o. link to MG roots could be doable

    • Doug Towsley

      Depends on the state or location, and as a tangent, if exporting depends on destination. Germany ?? forget it, look up Teuf, Now some states in the US require vehicle inspections as part of registration and i think you might have issues but i have never dealt with that so cant comment. I HAVE had a number of vehicles inspected for VIN in Oregon-Calif and Washington and depends on how you approach it and document it. Also greatly on WHICH employees do the paperwork and inspection not just at the site, but at the central DMV so it IS possible. However there is OTHER issues to consider. I looked to build a custom car on a tube frame chassis and discovered its really hard, both the DMV and then the final issue is vehicle insurance.

      Some states will ask, if there is no existing data on a vehicle that you build 2 and hand one over for testing including crash test. Also SOME states will title and register as date of construction and no dang way in hell can you comply with 2016 emissions and safety standards. By going with a date specific vintage donor car you avoid all those issues. Thus, do what you want, However that is why here in Oregon MY kit car is being built around a 1974 Datsun 260Z and titled and registered as such, My insurance company will be told its “Restyled” but uses most of the original car. If you retain enough of it, totally legal and NO inspections and affordable insurance.

  15. Alan (Michigan)

    Relisted.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Replica-Kit-Makes-/222151774284?vxp=mtr

    BIN = $14K
    Last auction reached $10,101

  16. Doug Towsley

    Its a cool car, and looks like a fun project but unless I am missing something (Like it was Zora Arkus Duntovs personal toy and there is documentation, then that seems rather overly optimistic in pricing.

  17. David Z

    Here’s me racing my DEVIN Chevrolet Special against a DEVIN SS. The one in the Pic above has a Watts link, that’s a SPecial car !!!! https://www.facebook.com/david.zavetsky/videos/10206794518325860/ If you get ’em going, they outrun everything……

    Like 1
  18. Joe Steiner

    I’m kinda in shock. This was my dad’s Devin! I stumbled across this site searching for Devin cars. I regret not getting one of my dads cars when he died. Whoever has this car, I’d like to see how your project is progressing! It was an absolute beast of a car! joe.steiner@hotmail.com

    Like 1

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