Devin Blank Slate: 1959 SS Roadster

Garr LarsonBy Garr Larson

Over the years, I’ve grown to love the history and lore of Devin Enterprise – the plucky company started by Bill Devin in 1954, and considered to be a pioneer of the California sports car movement. Perhaps his greatest style, the Devin SS (which stands for Super Sport) can be found here on eBay – and is an example of a “blank slate” version, ready for your creative vision.

The fact that this Devin is untitled and unfinished in any way makes this project both a blessing and a curse. Establishing provenance is going to be hard, and the seller explains that the body is currently fitted to a full-length frame built into the body, with VW pans attached. You can see glimpses of the frame below, and having completed several fiberglass and custom chassis builds – the combination is truly a joy to work with and build upon.

The original Devin SS’s (which started production in 1957) were built on imported Irish chassis and mated with a small-block Chevrolet engine. Most racing versions paired the SS with a modified Corvette 4,637.5 cc (283 cu in) Chevrolet Corvette OHV V8 – to create the little ‘glass rockets that did very well on the circuits for many years. The seller is offering a Subaru 1800 engine as part of the package – which would continue its legacy of lightweight speed – but if possible I might return it to a classic Porsche 356 powerplant that remaining parts indicate it might have once had.

At a starting bid of $1,200 (with no reserve), its possible this Devin will be a steal for someone looking for a little roadster full of history and possibility. It will most likely never fetch the huge values that surviving certified originals command ($100,000 or more) – but those prices fly in the face of what Bill Devin envisioned for his cars anyway. He wanted fast, affordable and fun racers to bring joy to American’s everywhere. This one could easily fulfill that tradition!

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Pretty sure this Devin is absolutely not an SS, Garr. The seller may say so, but this is more likely a Devin “D”, or one of the various bodies Devin produced to fit a variety of chassis.

    “Real” SS Devins had a purpose-built tubular chassis with no VW bits whatsoever (suspension, wheels, or otherwise), and they were powered by front-mounted SBCs. None had VW engines. The “tube frame” shown in the photos looks to be of much smaller-diameter tubing than the “Irish” chassis of the first SS cars or the later examples built by Devin himself.

    I understand wanting to put your “for sale” item in the best light, but this is, well, excessive enthusiasm on the flipper’s part. The $1200 current bid is probably decent money for what this is.




    8
    • JohnD

      Yep! Not an SS. Guessing a D. Shouldn’t be making this kind of mistake. At least miss the hard ones . . .




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  2. motoring mo

    Bringing an SS back to life in our shop right now. Has take 2 years so far and quite a few $. WI’ll be listing it on BaT on behalf of the owner this summer…




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  3. CharlesDamian

    Ray T, I believe you are correct! Is that a VW trailing arm rear suspension? I don’t think this car would accept a V-8. This is a rear engine car. The Subaru motor backs this up. I can’t see me building this with Subaru power. I hate how they sound. Maybe a Corvair motor? I owned a couple of them, and that would be a more correct match. Many of the parts are SBC. I wonder how one could be made to perform with some modern tech?




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  4. James HGF

    Neither an SS nor a D. The Devin Specials page below allows one to compare the real SS, D, and C with other Devin bodies – MId page is found “SS Added to Registry” and “Alex Quattlebaum Devin SS 02” video:

    http://www.devinspecial.com/




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  5. Steve

    Why can’t sellers do a little research before putting their cars up for sale? Just saying…




    2
    • Dan in TX

      I think because claiming ignorance is better than boldfaced lying!




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    • Bob

      <Why can’t sellers do a little research before putting their cars up for sale? Just saying…

      I was once told there was a free caboose available. I went to see the owner and she told me where it was located. My plan was to sell it and split the profit with the owner.

      The "caboose" turned out to be a wooden boxcar that was falling apart.




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  6. Mims

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