1959 Devin Buick Special
s/n Not Recorded
Yellow with Brown Interior
In 1956 Devin Enterprises began production of fiberglass bodies shortly after their success with various Panhard racing models. The Devin body (initially called the Monza), is believed to have been originally molded from a Scaglietti designed Ermini Sport 1100. The beautiful bodywork was rather novel in that Bill Devin elected to mold the bodies using a series of sections, divided into multiple complex molds. These molds allowed Devin to vary the width and wheelbases, thus accommodating cars from the diminutive Crosley to the more robust frames of larger production cars. Devin bodies quickly became popular for many reasons, but most importantly their high quality finish. Devin used fiberglass cloth for the outer layer of their bodywork rather than coarse glass mat often used by other manufacturers. This, along with a higher level of final finish delivered a very smooth and durable body shell, particularly across panel edges and large flat surfaces prone to sink and warping. Once offered, Devin bodies were successfully sold to builders of custom and one-off specialty cars, making great impressions at tracks all over America. Devin Enterprises manufactured and supplied these bodies for many years throughout the golden era of sports car and road racing, selling cars in North and South America, Europe, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, becoming the world's largest and most successful producer of aftermarket fiberglass bodies at that time. The pinnacle of their achievement resulted in the hand made and powerful Devin SS. Although only 30 were made, these models regularly change hands for upwards of $300k today.
This particular Devin began life as so many other racecars of this period. In the late 1950’s, Tom Fox (a Portland, Oregon privateer racer) had been campaigning a TR3 in local races. Fortunately, Mr. Fox was unharmed when he rolled the Triumph in the midst of a race. The same could not be said for the TR3 body however. Mr. Fox towed the car home and set about removing the remaining body panels from the otherwise fine frame. After some consideration and research, he elected to purchase a brand new Devin body and prepared the frame for fitting. But Mr. Fox had one more trick up his sleeve. While doing his rebuild, he surmised a greater advantage in the powerful and lightweight aluminum 215 cu in V8, thereby installing it in the newly bodied Devin, creating the 1959 Devin Buick Special.
After some years of racing and enjoyment, Mr. Fox stored the car for an undetermined period of time. In 1994, Southern California resident and film producer/writer Pancho Kohner purchased the Devin. To state Kohner’s filmography alone would take pages of references, not to mention his writing career, prodigious efforts operating his own casting agency, and his dynamic personal life. His life in film runs in the family as his father’s career spaned the golden age of Hollywood including close working relationships with Igmar Bergman, Greta Garbo, John Huston, Liv Ulman, and Billy Wilder, to name a few. Pancho Kohner applied his attention to detail and meticulous nature to this Devin as he set about comprehensively improving and refurbishing it, eager to fulfill his passion for racing. For the next eighteen years Kohner would make appearances and race at Western tracks including Button Willow, Willow Springs, Tustin, Pomona, and Las Vegas, under both VARA and HMSA event classifications making adjustments to dial the car in. Over the course of its history, this Devin received many upgrades and improvements including an innovative quick-release seat frame system, which allows the driver’s or passenger’s seat to be easily swapped (left to right) to accommodate large or smaller drivers. The engine has been upgraded to 302 cubic inches fed by four side-draft Weber Carburetors through a Mickey Thompson cross-flow intake manifold. This, among many other features, makes the car a potent machine, proven by many wins achieved with both Pancho and his son at the wheel.
Vintage racecars are often victims of hard driving and crude track-side modifications or rapidly cobbled efforts designed to get cars back on the track as soon as possible. Restoring a vintage racecar can be more challenging than many suspect. So it is all the more critical to obtain a very well sorted example whenever possible. In the case of this Buick powered Devin, it’s clear that a lifetime of thoughtful engineering, careful stewardship, and properly selected equipment of both vintage and contemporary levels have converged to create a capable and competitive participant in historic racing. The body and paint are in very good condition owing in large part to the high quality fiberglass and matting used in Devin production bodies. The mechanical components throughout the car have been sourced with attention to detail, and sorted out over years of racing to refine and improve both track performance and reliability. During the Kohner years, the car competed successfully as witnessed by the log books retained since 1996 and included with the purchase of this car.
The Devin Buick build begins with a properly gusseted Triumph chassis (triangulated steel gussets welded to internal frame joints adding stiffness) with roll-over bar and cage. The car weighs in at a total 1760 lbs. The 215 aluminum V8 engine has been bored and stroked to 302 cu in, sporting large-valve aluminum Buick 300 heads, thumping a 490 lift and 327 duration Isky cam. Internally, Venolia pistons with 54cc combustion chambers and Chevrolet rods are connected to a robust Buick 300 crankshaft. All that power requires lubrication and here too a very efficient dry sump system and Accusump pre-oiler was used along with an oil cooler to facilitate proper oil flow under the stresses of racing. A Mickey Thompson cross-flow intake manifold finishes off the engine, fed by four Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, electronic ignition, and rev. limiter. Engine cooling is achieved via aluminum radiator and electric fan. All this power and torque are managed through a 9lb aluminum flywheel, 13 lb McCloud clutch (with steel scatter shield), and durable T10 Chevrolet short ratio transmission. The rear suspension is highlighted by a Quaif limited slip differential, adjustable rear axle locator bars and spring perches, assisted by a heavy duty sway bar and heavy duty coil springs. For stopping power, front disc brakes are drilled; while rear aluminum finned drum brakes add a highly functional and vintage finishing touch. All four corners feature 5 bolt aluminum wheel hubs housing Halibrand bolt on wheels. Finally, a Fuel Safe fuel cell and fuel pump (installed new in 2016) finish off the demanding fueling requirements of this potent mill.
Further inspection of this car reveals additional workmanship excellence throughout the interior beginning with hand formed aluminum panels and drop down doors on both sides. Period SW instrumentation decorate the aluminum paneled dash, mixed in with contemporary safety items including activation for the Halon fire suppression system which safely covers the entire car. Vintage style seats complete the overall interior covered in a nice baseball glove material. The windscreen is custom formed single piece Plexiglass, effectively covering the entire cowl. Access to the engine is achieved by raising the entire clamshell hood section, which quickly and easily allows complete inspection and mechanical attention to all components. The current owner/driver reports the car has substantial power and excellent torque while very properly balanced and dialed in to perform admirably on short and long courses depending on the skill of the next owner. Currently, all operational features function properly and have been appropriately maintained for the challenges of racing.
The combined mechanical and aesthetic result of years of preparation and refinement are revealed in this beautiful and capable racecar, ready to perform at any track or road-racing event with only minor preparation, fresh tires, current seat belts, and a capable driver installed with the confidence to win.
Included with the sale are documents for the service and preparation of this car spanning back to the mid-1990s, log books dating back to 1996.
This 1959 Devin Buick Special represents an opportunity for a dedicated enthusiast and vintage racer to benefit from many years of development by skilled racing specialists. This well-sorted Devin will run strong in the large-bore late 50’s class, competing formidably against many of the most beautiful and expensive sports cars in the world, delighting owner, drivers, and spectators alike.
This vintage racing Devin Buick Special is offered on a bill of sale only, and is not titled nor licensed for street use.
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.