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Devin-Panhard- 1954


Bill Devin was an innovative car designer from Fontana, California. He began as a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer and moved up to exotic cars. He was also an accomplished racer and owned a string of incredible competition Ferraris. When Devin sold his Ferrari 250MM to a buyer in Michigan and came back with a 1953 Deutsch-Bonnet (DB) Le Mans Barquette race car in partial trade, his dream of building race cars finally began. He was so enamored with the DB’s horizontally-opposed, two-cylinder Panhard engine that when a California Panhard dealer came up for sale, he bought the entire stock. Devin then used a slightly modified Panhard Dyna Junior chassis, then pulled a body mold from the aerodynamic DB, making practical adjustments. At the time, Devin didn’t know much about fiberglass, but he would go on to become the world’s largest producer of aftermarket fiberglass bodies in the 1950s, sold as kits. In addition to complete kit automobiles, he also produced fiberglass automotive accessories.

Bill Devin created a true small-bore race car of only 745cc in the Devin-Panhard. The French-built Panhard engine was an opposed two-cylinder, four-stroke engine, but instead of a pushrod system, Devin used overhead camshafts which helped increase horsepower. The Devin-Panhard is also understood to be the first car to utilize a belt-driven overhead camshaft, though Devin never patented his innovation. The 745cc engine was stock and developed 34 hp, giving it a respectable power-to-weight ratio. But Devin’s cars were offered with a variety of options, such as a supercharger, single overhead camshafts, or dual overhead camshafts that boosted power from 34 hp to nearly 80 hp. The Devin-Panhard ran in the SCCA’s H-Modified Class (750cc displacement or less). Lightweight and with excellent handling, Devin-Panhards proved to be extremely competitive. This car seen here was raced five times in 1955 and 1956 with four podium finishes!

It is believed that Devin produced approximately 15 racers of this design altogether but only a handful are known to survive. This one is thought to be car #1 or #2 and it’s restoration has been well documented. John Mood restored the car in 2017 to original specifications as best known.

Manufacturer: Devin Enterprises
Country of Origin: USA
Drivetrain Configuration: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Engine: Panhard S-3, air-cooled, 745 cc, 2-cylinder, four-cycle, boxer-style, 34 hp
Transmission: Manual 4-speed
Top speed: 100 mph
Years Produced: 1954
Cost: $2850