Buick-Powered Devin Roadster

Posted July 22, 2019

Story and photos by Dean Larson

We’re still unpacking this morning from a busy long weekend in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, but I wanted to take a minute to tell you about one car that really grabbed my attention. In the thousands of road cars and racers that descended on this historic Eastern Wisconsin town, I found a striking Devin-bodied sports car that stood out from the crowd, for more than its candy apple paint too.

The car is based on a 1958 MGA chassis that the builder fit with front discs from a 1960 MGA and 72-spoke wheels from an MGC. But under the hood, you won’t find a standard B-series four-cylinder, nor a Chevrolet small block (if you’ve already spied the "V8" on the license plate). It’s actually a 215 ci, alloy-block Buick V8 that propels the Devin, which is actually a popular swap for MGs, and provides 150 to 200 hp stock depending on specification. The unique alloy engine sends its power through a TR8 transmission and exhales through a pair of dual-tipped side pipes, which emit an agreeable sedate burble.

That sidepipe soundtrack is the topic of one of my favorite stories from the weekend. It was Friday at Road America, and I was getting my first look at the Devin along with a few other onlookers. We spoke in hushed tones and surmised about the car’s mechanical details as its engine idled with a pleasantly reserved tone. It was then that an older gentleman, the car’s owner, came up and stuck his ankle near the sidepipe tips and sarcastically quipped, “oh, so it is running.”

I saw the car again on Friday during the street car concours, where the cars are shown on East Street and South Lake Street, which were parts of the historic road racing course. The car drew quite a crowd, and many commented on its striking House of Kolor Candy Apple Red paint. An information sheet was displayed in the windshield for the concours event, and the “additional notes” section proudly indicated that the owner built the car in his own shop with “spare parts from my hoard.” It’s awesome to see that people are still building cars like this at home, and that they’re still getting people excited, some 60 years later.

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