My car is a restored Kit car – a 1929 Mercedes built on a 1970…
Are you crazy enough to rescue this derelict Devin kit car?
Kit cars live in an odd place in the automotive world. Some are built for performance, others for looks, and a third class has attained a place in the upper echelon beyond the reach of common enthusiasts. The idea that an enterprising enthusiast could assemble their own car is old as the auto industry itself, but the concept did not truly gain traction until the 1950s with the advent of fiberglass to keep costs down and style up.
We recently unearthed this dusty example, a ’63 Devin C, on Bring a Trailer. Beneath the grit and grime, however, lies a fascinating home-brew story.
Devin Enterprises was spawned in the height of the kit car craze in 1955. After selling his Ferrari, Bill Devin found himself hot rodding a Deutsch-Bonnet race car. He designed and built his own chassis and created an engine which mixed together parts from a Panhard boxer engine and a Manx motorcycle engine.
That mismash of parts went into production in 1955 under the brand Devin-Panhard. The next step, of course, was to leave the familiar realm of production cars even further behind and create his own body. Unlike so many other fiberglass kit vehicle bodies of the time, the fiberglass bodies Devin shipped were remarkably well-finished; using a fiberglass cloth as the final layer rather than glass mat produced a much smoother finish that required less bodywork to achieve a presentable final product.
Sadly, the Devin C example I found recently on Bring a Trailer is a bit worse for wear. However, it exemplifies the true genius of the Devin build process. Get past the rough condition and you can see the seams of the panels which construct the body. Devin had 50 different parts to one body, and used a mix-and-match approach to create an assembled shell that adapted well to different chassis. From English sports cars to select small American chassis, there was a Devin body to fit them all. This example rides on the ever-popular Volkswagen Beetle pan.
The engine is gone, but a VW Bus transaxle remains. The seller claims the car has been most recently set up for a Rover V-8, which is likely plenty of power for a car that would likely be well under 2000 pounds when completed. If you aren’t scared of some fiberglass dust in your garage, this might be just the project to kick off a new year.
Do you see potential in the photos—or just neglect? Can it be saved? Tell us in the comments below.
Like this article? Check out Hagerty Insider, our e-magazine devoted to tracking trends in the collector car market.