Yesterday we were talking about Fiberglass, Italian-esque vehicles. Let’s continue that theme. Recently at our big Capital Drift Pumpkin Smash event, I had a gentleman approach me excited to talk cars. He had been working on some more restoration, and was wanting to share. His car? A Devin. Haven’t heard of a Devin before? Bill Devin wanted to sell the performance of a ferrari for half the price. He did just that. Building complete cars, with fiberglass bodies and Italian like styling fitted with American V8’s. He also sold Fiberglass body-shells in whatever size you requested to fit your existing chassis too.
What’s interesting to note is these were cars in the 1950’s with independent front and rear, dual wishbone suspension, with steering racks and front disc brakes. It’s an old recipe. Lightweight car, large displacement motor. Hot rodding with a professional purpose. Note: It is rumored that the Devin was the inspiration for the AC/Shelby Cobra. Using an existing AC Ace chassis and ford’s 427. You can read much more about the Devin: Here and Here.
I’ll be honest, I just kinda find the simplicity of this AC Ace chassis beautiful. It’s a nearly identical suspension setup front and rear. Which I think was done to reduce costs. Beneficially it forced the engine to behind the front wheels rather than between them, resulting in a very nimble and well balanced chassis. Whether or not it was on purpose who knows?
Back to Bill Devin for a second. He’s claimed to have raced, successfully, a Crosley Hotshot before ever starting the Devin company. Not sure what a Crosley is? Let’s dive in.
Crosley, a wealthy American telecommunications and baseball owner, decided he’d build some micro cars. These were quite similar, and directly competitive to the American Bantam micro cars. America seems to forget, it’s one of the earliest producers and consumers of micro-cars. Crosley’s got a few cool things, including their very Stylish Crosley CC.
Continuing a loose connection to our ‘Cobra’ theme. Crosley produced a Sheet metal engine. Designed to make even cooling of the cylinders! What’s cool about these is it appears the head and the block are one piece. I’ve heard rumors of older 4 cylinders from either Offenhauser or Miller (before being bought by Offenhauser) that too built the head and block as one casting. Some of those race motors would run 30+ :1 compression ratios with no worries of the head lifting from the block!
My most favorite of the Cincinnati’s Crosley, is their Farm-o-Road model. Yes, that’s the actual name. The Crosley Farm-o-Road. A vehicle terrible on and off the road.