American Special: 1958 Devin

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Back in the 1950s every young guy who liked sports cars and racing wished he could own a Ferrari race car just like Phil Hill drove. These were impossible cars to get your hands though on unless you were a Ferrari factory driver, so Bill Devin decided to make fiberglass bodies that resembled a ’50s Ferrari race car and which could be mounted on a variety of chassis and powered by a multitude of engines. Find this vintage 1958 Devin Special here on eBay in Marblehead, Massachusetts with bidding at $6,200.

The Devin body helped lots of guys live out their dream of having their own race car for the street. Of course, these cars didn’t always go as fast as they looked. Many, like this Devin Special, were built on an early VW chassis and powered by an engine of the same make. In a search for more power, the VW flat-four in this Devin Special was replaced by a Porsche 356 engine, then a Corvair flat-six. It was even raced in minor local events early in its life.

By 2009 the original VW chassis had become terminally rusty, so the body was mounted on a 1967 VW chassis with a 1776 cc VW engine. Fortunately, the car retained all of its original body components, Austin Healey Sprite seats, and Porsche gauges. The car then passed through a number of hands, including the creator of the Devin Registry, where the car can be seen here as Devin Special #7. The current owner purchased the car in 2011 and had plans to return it to an earlier configuration but didn’t progress beyond disassembling it. The car is basically in its 2009 configuration on the 1967 VW chassis and with a 1776 VW engine. Although the seats and gauges have been removed, they are included with the sale.

These Devins have usually led hard lives and have often been powered by a variety of engines, just like this one has. But interest in Devins, especially Specials that have been raced, is strong, perhaps because they have that sleek Ferrari-like body but are pretty basic underneath and still affordable. For someone who likes Devins this one has a mostly known history, and there are even period photos of the car from earlier decades in the auction listing. The fiberglass bodies on these cars can crack and begin to come apart with age and hard use, but this one is said to be mostly original and solid. Anyone for an affordable American-bodied Special with a known history that won’t require a 6-figure budget to restore?

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  1. Mark E

    “My intention was to restore the Devin mechanically, including swapping out the 1776cc VW engine with a 356 engine to take it back to its earlier Devin/Porsche Special days”

    Not knowing the value of these but I can’t help but think with 356 prices the way they are this would better than double the value of the Devin…

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  2. Dave @ OldSchool

    I doubt it will be a good return on investment to consider Porsche 356 …………..the cost of 356 engines, transaxles, and other 356 bits makes it impractical, especially with the tiny VW brakes in the front of this car. Even the cost of just finishing this as a VW will be in the same price range as a decent Devin D, which was actually designed by Devin for the VW / Porsche … The D is an entirely different body and chassis ..and putting a 356 in a Devin D does make sense due to the potential demand for Vintage racing …but that demand will not apply to a VW pan based car, no matter what motor is selected. Putting a hearier Corvair in this car is also not a good option, as it does not have the correct weight balance ….Refinish it and drive it as is …and HAVE FUN

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  3. George L

    What it needs in a power plant is a version of the flat four VW/Porsche made later on. A Porsche 914 with dual Webers would enable the owner to get rid of the lump in the hole in the rear deck lid. Any 80’s VW bus engine or a VW 412 engine could be similarly be outfitted with dual Webers.

    These engines are available in the aftermarket in various horsepower configurations.

    Like 0
  4. DolphinAuthor

    Sold on eBay for $9,500.

    Like 0

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