Let’s Go Racing! 1959 Devin D Porsche

The Devin was born of a fortunate confluence of passion and science. Race car driver Bill Devin spent the late 1940s and early 1950s racing and hot-rodding cars, most notably, a Crosley Hotshot. During the same time frame,  advancements in the use of fiberglass allowed the production of the first fiberglass vehicle, a Scarab. Devin saw an opportunity and began making fiberglass bodies to sell as kits; drivers could drop the bodies on a chassis  and supply a motor of their choosing. The first bodies were molded using an Ermini as a model; eventually, nearly thirty varieties of Devins of all sizes came to market. A few Devins were factory produced with motors. The SS was supplied with a Chevrolet V8 engine, earning the name “Cobra Killer”. The Devin D was a less expensive proposition, furnished with either a Volkswagen or a Porsche motor. Only 46 Devin D’s were produced. Here on eBay is one of those, a 1959 Devin D with a 1959 Porsche 1600 Super motor. This interesting offering is bid to $22,100, reserve not met, and is located in Saint Augustine, Florida.

The rear-mounted Porsche 1600 Super motor might or might not be original to this chassis. That said, the motor’s parts match, and it is date-coded – according to the seller – to the car. The ancillaries do belong to a 1600 Super – the Zenith carburetors, the Knecht air cleaners. It has a Bosch distributor. The engine does not turn with a wrench. The seller indicates the cylinders are soaking, in hopes of breaking them free. Working correctly, this motor will produce about 75 bhp.

The interior is befitting a race car. It has a selection of gauges that presumably once worked appropriately: an Empi tachometer, a VW speedometer, a temperature gauge by Stork, an SW ammeter, and a VDO gauge. The windshield is missing, but the seller is in contact with a Devin owner who has the glass and seals for the car – a big relief for anyone who has ever had experience trying to find a windshield for an exotic car. The car comes with a convertible top frame and has original badging and latches.

The underside has seen repairs. Fiberglass work is apparent and the seller says part of the frame has been replaced with non-original parts. The car comes with Porsche 356 brakes installed on the front and a pair is also supplied for the rear. The car sports Porsche KPZ wheels at all four corners. These cars are worth far more than the current bid when running, leaving headroom for expenditures here. If a would-be buyer were to turn up facts about this car’s production or race history, that would further boost its value. I am keen to see the final sale price on this rare racer.

Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Sorry to be contrary, but I doubt this Devin has any race history. No seat belts, and no sign any were ever fitted. Ditto a roll bar. I believe both were required by SCCA and CSCC by 1959.

    The Porsche-powered Devins were all essentially Devin “Ds” based on Beetle chassis and running gear with a Porsche engine bolted in. An easy swap, as any Old School Beetle owner could attest. There was also a Devin “C” which used the same body with a Corvair engine and, I believe, a Beetle pan underneath. With the engines in stock form, those would outrun the Porsche-powered cars pretty handily.

    One final note: I don’t recall the Devin SS ever being referred to as a “Cobra killer,” as the SS preceded Mr Shelby’s effort by some five years.

    All Devins were gorgeous cars, and well-crafted, as I recall. Certainly not typical “kit cars,” outstripping the rest in looks and quality. I was lucky enough to meet Bill Devin in the late 1980s, and he was still building complete cars on order.

    Like 9
    • RayT Member

      Since I can’t correct my earlier comments, a clarification: the current Devin website states that the Devin “D” and “C” had a custom-built chassis using some VW components. So that would likely be so for this Porsche-powered car as well.

      Like 3
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        The 356B finned aluminum drum brakes were a bolt on for VW and Porsche suspensions. More brakes than needed for a car of this light weight. Our ’59 Convertible D race car had ’60 B brakes and weighing only 1,400 lbs really stopped the car.

        Like 4
  2. Haig L Haleblian

    A Porsche Speedster repop window frame would look infinitely better on this Devin.

    Like 2
  3. GlennR Member

    Devin bodies were among the best quality as they used woven fiberglass cloth rather than chopped strand. That made for lighter and stronger composite.

    Like 2
  4. Big C

    The Cheetah was called the Cobra Killer.

    Like 1
  5. JamesHGF

    Hi Michelle,

    The first Devin bodies were Devin’s own design for his French, yes French, front wheel drive Devin Panhard cars. The Ermini styled bodies came later.

    Devin offered not only his Panhard body, but also his light Panhard frame, engines, stock, modified, supercharged and more, much more.

    A large part of the story (and all the fantastic cars he owned) is told in the May 1957 Sports Car Illustrated article written by Ocee Rich. Fortunately you don’t have to have a copy in the stacks just go to devinspecial dot com and select Old Articles/Ads scroll down and read online.

    Like 2
  6. H P

    The only real Cobra Killer was the GRIFFITH . Period !
    The saying was , Take a Tiger and remove 500 lbs and you have a Cobra
    Take a Cobra and remove 500 lbs and you have a Griffith !

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.