The Devin
Panhard

Bill raced his Crosley and Ferraris until
he knew he wanted something different....



If you were ever a spectator at early California sports car events, you may well remember the much modified Crosley Hot Shot that was raced by Bill Devin. Around that time, the most potent competition machinery were Jags and home-built specials and soon after that, Cad Allards, Chrysler Allards, Ferraris and the Kurtis began to show.

Bill met Luigi Chinetti and subsequently started buying and racing Ferraris and selling them. One of these he sold in Grosse Point, Michigan; a 250MM Ferrari that he sold for $6500 cash and a Deutch-Bonett race car. Upon making delivery he was shocked to find that the DB he was depending on driving back to California had no engine installed. The engine was outside the car along with the transaxle and he had to send the DB back to California by air. Fortunatlly, Bill had taken a friend back to Iowa with him who went on to New York to take delivery of a VW bus so, Bill made arrangements to meet his friend in Iowa and they would make the drive back to California together.

It was during this driving time back home that Bill had plenty of time to think. The only thing he did know was that he didn't know what to do with the DB he took in trade. Try as he would, the only thing to do with the DB was to sell it for what he could and get on with business. So - I guess it could be said that he was rather lucky to receive a phone call from a French Panhard dealership in Hollywood who wanted to make a deal with Bill to take ten Panhard chassis off their hands.

The Panhards were complete vehicles without a body/shell and they were willing to deal using the DB as part of the trade. When they shook hands, Bill took delivery of ten bodiless Panhards for $2,500 and he didn't have that DB to contend with any longer. He also had a balance of $7,500 owed to that dealership that he could pay off as he sold off the completed Panhards.

This debt over Bill's head forced him to find the lightest, toughest, easiest to repair and most economical body to produce in the shortest time possible. He figured fiberglass was the way to go and started teaching himself fiberglass theory and principles. Taking what practices were in use at that time, he tested his own theories and developed new standards for himself to follow. What Bill had done with fiberglass is what nobody was presently doing and the result was the lightest, toughest, easiest to maintain, and most economical autobody being created at that time....and he did it in the shortest time possible.

"Here I am sitting in a 'just finished' Devin Panhard in 1955. Both these Panhards were completed prior to the OHC's project completion."

 "... just getting a car ready for the next race takes many man-hours. This is one of my mechanics, Fletcher Isard, working on a 750cc (Blown) engine for the next race."

 

Bill sold the second Devin Panhard off his assembly line to Jim Orr of Kentfield, California. This is a photo of Jim with his Devin Panhard in the pre-race parade in Nassau, 1955.

(1956)This is a photo of Bill checking his load of racers going to Nassau for the competition. Lance Reventlow's "Cooper-Climax" is loaded bottom/front. The white Devin Panhard (bottom/rear) is the one that won the SCCA National Championship of 1956.


The 1949 Crosley Hot Shot
Bill's early Ferraris
World's 1st belt-driven OHC engine
The DEVIN-D
The DEVIN-SS
The DEVIN-C
The DEVIN-GT
The Roosevelt Devin
The Future ??