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The Devin SS

Story and photographs by Tom Strongman

It’s hard to resist a car built by a man who was described as “the Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats” in the July 1961 issue of Car and Driver magazine.

 But that’s only one reason why Jerry E. Ward of North Kansas City is fascinated with his Devin sports car. Ward has owned a number of collectible cars and loves bringing them back to original condition. His 1958 Devin is his latest challenge.

 Bill Devin was born in Rocky, Okla., in 1915 and died in 2000, according to an article in Vintage Motorsport magazine.

 The 1950s were a time like no other in sports-car racing. Drivers such as Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill and Kansas City’s own Masten Gregory rose to prominence on the road courses of Southern California and eventually on tracks across Europe. The popularity of road racing in Southern California soon attracted car builders who embodied the inventive spirit and skill of the hot rod culture. Homemade specials with names such as Ol’ Yaller began to challenge, and occasionally beat, the Ferraris, Jaguars and Maseratis.

 Bill Devin was part of the scene, and out of this milieu he created the Devin SS powered by a 270-horsepower Corvette V-8. Devin also manufactured fiberglass bodies to fit a wide variety of auto chassis, giving backyard hobbyists the chance to build their own sports car at a bargain price.

 The Devin SS was a serious sports car. It had a tube frame, lightweight fiberglass body weighed 1,950 pounds.

 Ward located his car more than a year ago and began a painstaking restoration. His attention to detail has resulted in car that looks a great deal like it would have the day it rolled from the factory. Ward thinks his car was raced well into the 1960s, but the lack of records makes that difficult to document.

 Ward’s car has an aluminum cockpit that adds strength and rigidity. He carefully drilled out every rivet and replaced each one with rivets like those used on Airstream trailers. He then polished the head of each rivet like those on an Airstream.

 Ward’s car carries an original Devin intake manifold for the dual four-barrel carburetors, and its frame carries a Devin factory number plate. Ward updated the wheels with pin-drive alloy wheels and Devin knockoff hubs. He also fabricated the headrest out of sheet aluminum on an English wheel.

 Now that the restoration is complete, Ward plans to take his Devin to the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. If it sells, he’ll turn his attention to another project. But he’ll never forget how special it was to own a car conceived by the “Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats.”



 Copyright Tom