After producing Fiberglass bodies for a number of different chassis, Bill Devin eventually made his own turn-key cars based on the Chevrolet small-block V8. Together with Irish manufacturer’s Malcom MacGregor and Noel Hills, the frames were completed as a rolling chassis in Ireland and then shipped to El Monte, California to be finished.
Malcom MacGregor designed the prototype chassis which used 3-inch steel tubing, with a double-wishbones front suspension and a de Dion Tube axle in the rear. Bill Devin flew to Ireland to view the prototype chassis and the basic dimensions of the chassis we worked out. As such, the chassis used several English parts including a BMC rack and pinion steering system, as well as Girling disc brakes.
On top of this Irish-built chassis Bill Devin designed a unique and striking roadster body in Fiberglass. It had protruding front fenders and neatly rounded rear bodywork. Some components were specifically designed by Devin including an intake manifold to accept Holley carburetors and a aluminum differential casing. He also finished the interior with a folding top, side windows, oversize Stewart-Warner gauges and a custom windshield.
Sports Car Illustrated tested and SS, reaching 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and 100 mph in 12.9 seconds. The intention was to build 100 examples to meet production requirements by the SCCA. Eventually, the chassis were made in California too, but the initial prediction of 100 cars was never met. Only around 20 Irish-chassis and 10-California chassis cars were made.
Devin intended for the SS to be used both on the road and track. Almost all the sold cars were trimmed for the track, but a few have been exclusively used on the road.
Sources & Further Reading
1.Pace, Harold. Vintage American Road Racing Cars. Motorbooks: 2004.
1959 Devin SS Sports Car DSS-001 – did not sell for $200,000 Chassis number DSS-001 is the prototype of the “Second Design” American chassis SS cars. It was built in the fall of 1959 and was used as a factory “display” car. The car was photographed for and can be seen in Devin’s vehicle product brochure. Ultimately, however, according to the serial number registry book that Bill kept, only two more of these second generation cars were built before production ended for good.
DSS-001 is a well-documented, “no stories” car, as it is offered today. It is also currently registered for highway use with the California DMV and comes with a California title. In addition, it comes with multiple letters from both Mr. Wickersham and Mr. Devin himself, authenticating the car and defining its history. Proven to be a fierce competitor on the track for all of the reasons that it was intended for more than 50 years ago—it is solidly constructed, relatively easy to maintain and repair, and it is, of course, very, very fast.
1958 Devin SS Sports Racing Car SR2-6 – sold for €134,400 This example was a multi-year entrant at the Monterey Historics, titled as recently as 2006 as a road car in California. It benefits from a total restoration commenced in 1995, with upgrades including a Traco-built Chevrolet V8 with a correct Rochester fuel injection system, “kidney-bean” Halibrand alloy wheels, full Connolly leather interior and square-weave carpeting. It is believed SR2-06 spent its early life as a road car. Found in a California barn with its body beyond salvation, new and correct fibreglass body panels were acquired for the restoration, based on the original chassis frame. A period-looking, but current-specification, roll bar, racing harnesses and a safety fuel cell are also fitted. After a few years of HMSA vintage racing at such high-profile events as the Monterey Historics, the Wine Country Classic and the Coronado Festival, the mechanicals were thoroughly refurbished in 2006, including the front and rear suspension as well as the Rochester fuel injection system.