Another beautiful Devin sports car is being offered for sale and this one by one of our Undiscovered Classics friends – Brian Miller.
Brian has been a Devin enthusiast and a vocal advocate of handcrafted sports cars since I first met him via our Devin group about five years ago. Since then he’s made amazing strides in both ownership and presentation with these cars, first in participating with a group of Devin sports cars in 2017 at the Quail Gathering in Monterey, California and then in 2018 having his Devin showcased in Octane Magazine with terrific photography by noted photo-artist Evan Klein.
What a great presentation and impact he’s had on the Devin sports car marque. Check out both stories below:
Talk of Devin
Octane Magazine: June, 2018
Bill Devin’s Legacy Showcased at Quail Gathering
The ClassicCars.com Journal: October 28, 2017
Brian has recently put his Devin up for sale and I’m sure the new owner will be excited and pleased to own such a fine car. The link to the auction site appears at the end of this story so you can check out more info on the car and its sale. In the meantime, Brian was kind enough to pen an article about his Devin and his experience with it, and that’s the subject of today’s story. So without adieu, take it away Brian 🙂
Uncovering the History of a Rare Devin C Roadster
By Brian Miller
Late one night in 2015 I was reading a car magazine when I noticed an ad for a bright red sports car hidden among the ads at the back. The listing was for a race winning Devin C. I was a bit perplexed. I had heard of the Devin SS and seen a Devin D at car show but the Devin C was new to me. I quickly emailed the selling dealer and by the next day the deal was done and the Devin C would be loaded on a transporter and shipped from California to my home in Arizona.
A week later the transporter arrived at a location about 10 minutes from my house where I was able to listen to it fire up for the first time as the truck driver backed it out of the car hauler and into the parking lot of an exotic car dealer where he was picking up another car. Everyone turned and stared as the red Devin rolled out of the dark truck and into the morning sunlight. I was soon to learn this would be the reaction everywhere I took the little red Devin sports car.
The initial drive home was exhilarating. The race exhaust was loud and the brakes needed adjusting but the car was fast. Much faster than I was expecting. It was clear this was no ordinary Corvair engine sitting over my shoulder. It felt like a turbine jet engine pulling away from the stoplights. Once I got the car home I found a package full of documents, photos, and old license plates in the front trunk and started to sort through them. Photos from the engine build, photos of the car participating at races and auto-x events, and several old registrations. Ironically the car had been owned by a man named Tom Schrum in Arizona sometime in the past. It seemed the little red Devin had come home.
After sorting the brakes and re-jetting the carbs to better suit Arizona’s climate and altitude I took the car to the local cars and coffee. There were so many people asking me about the car and the details. I knew a little about the history of the Devin but not much. Then a gentleman introduced himself as John Priddy and told me he knew the former owner of the car as well as Bill Devin. He asked if I would like to join him for breakfast so he could tell me all about the history of my car.
It turns out John Priddy is an unofficial Devin historian of sorts and he owns a Devin C himself. What a small world! John has personally inspected and laid hands on many of the surviving Devin C sports cars of the 20-25 originally built by Devin Enterprises in California. John often finds himself traveling great distances to meet the owners and authenticate their cars and we just happened to meet at the same event.
Over breakfast John explains how my car is the third Devin C built. He tells me it is essentially a prototype as the first three Devin C cars started life as Devin D models with Bill Devin using them to test the Corvair drivetrain and suspension. John says my car was then used as the template for the remaining Devin C sports cars.
He tells me I should not modify the car and do my best to preserve the car as it is more special than I know. He recommends I purchase the book Devin, the Man and His cars which features my car as well as stories about the previous owner Tom Schrum and his friendship with Bill Devin.
I start doing research and learn as much as I can about Bill Devin and the Devin C roadsters in particular. Much of the information I learned from books, old magazines, and this website. Through the CORSA club I learn that Tom Schrum had been a legend in the Corvair community for his racing success with his Corvair race car and Devin C as well as for his engine building prowess. When people learn I own Tom Schrum’s former Devin they always say the same thing, “Don’t touch the engine, it is very special”.
The next time I met up with John Priddy I asked him about Tom Schrum. It seems Tom had been building race winning engines for Daytona as well as other races. When he got into Corvair cars he applied all that knowledge to Chevrolet’s air-cooled flat six power plant. Tom Schrum’s Corvair engines could rev higher and pull harder than just about any other. The engine he built for the Devin C reportedly dyno’d at 200+ HP during testing and will safely rev over 7000 RPM all day long.
CORSA invited John and I to submit some photos of our Devin C roadsters for a special all Devin issue of the club magazine. Between the magazine and John I was able to meet more and more Devin C owners and they all had a special connection to Tom Schrum. One owner explains how their Devin ran poorly until Tom built them a new engine. Another tells me how Tom found the Devin C for him after he had been looking forever. A third shares how he purchased an unfinished Devin C restoration Tom had been working on before he passed away and was planning to complete the restoration. I discovered the community of Devin C owners were willing to share information and help other owners find parts to keep the cars running their best.
At and Air-Cooled Arizona meet-up John Priddy shared with me stories of the many times he and Tom Schrum would visit Bill Devin over the years. It seems that Tom and Bill really got along and became very good friends. Tom Schrum and Bill Devin created special parts for this car including lightweight polished aluminum rear bumpers and engineered rear compensator springs to cure any ill-handling from the swing axle rear suspension set-up. Tom and Bill would take the car to vintage events all over California and Arizona. One story tells of Bill Devin’s RV breaking down on the way to the Monterey Historic Races so Bill jumped in the Devin C with Tom and they drove the car from San Luis Obispo to Monterey to make the event! All in all, Tom Schrum won over 50 slalom races and vintage events with this special little red Devin.
In 2017 a group of Devin C owners were invited to show our cars at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week to honor Bill Devin. It was a strange sensation to meet Jay Leno, Donald Osborne, and other automotive celebrities including many race drivers I have long admired. Stranger still was having automotive journalist and photographers fawning over the assembled Devin C sports cars and asking for drives and interviews. Since then my Devin C has appeared in numerous magazines and websites. What an honor to see Bill Devin’s legacy continue to inspire other automotive enthusiasts. What was not strange was meeting so many other owners face-to-face and hearing the stories of their cars and adventures with their Devin sports cars. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life. Many of the older owners had known Bill Devin and remembered Tom Schrum with with respect. The close knit Devin community is truly something special and they have become my second family.
Over the past 5 years I’ve enjoyed the little red Devin C on mountain and canyon roads as well as taking it to concours as well as cars and coffee events. It is going to be hard to let this special car go but now it is time to allow someone else to enjoy this rare sports car. Built by Devin Enterprises during a time when a racer and engineer could launch his own car company and win races against the big guys. If you want to own a sports car that is fast enough to win on the track yet beautifully styled and rare enough to be invited to some of the greatest automotive events you will find this Devin C checks all the boxes. You can be the driver to create the next chapter in this history book of this little red Devin.
Great thanks to Brian Miller for sharing the special story of his car with us at Undiscovered Classics and we wish him the best of luck on the sale of his Devin this week. The auction is live and you can view the site via the following link:
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.