PCH, Priceless Race Car Edition: Hemi Bantam or Buick Devin?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Priceless Race Car Edition: Hemi Bantam or Buick Devin?

We learned on Friday that Dante Alighieri would prefer to drive a '58 Fiat 600 Multipla in Hell, and that's an important lesson. Another lesson that all those sentenced to eternity in Project Car Hell should learn is the joys associated with buying a Hell Project without a price. Yes, literally priceless cars await us today, and not just any priceless cars. Old race cars!
See, this way you can negotiate endlessly with some hardball seller, drag your newly-acquired dilapidated carcass diamond in the rough home, and dream of old-timey racing glory as you recreate hand-fabricated components for the next decade.

These days, you can take your 3rd-gen Camaro or Fox Mustang and build a credible 9-second drag car without too much trouble and only a few wheelbarrows full of Benjamins. Sure, you'll be quick, but there's bound to be some old guy at the track who remembers blasting down Lions Drag Strip in a barely controllable 392 Hemi-powered Anglia or Topolino with a cigar clenched in his teeth and a couple of empty Schlitz cans rolling around by the pedals. He'll look you in the eye as you climb out of your safe-n-sane beast and you'll know what he's thinking. And you'll feel shame. But it doesn't have to be that way! Just call up the seller of this Hemi-powered 1932 Austin Bantam, which the seller "was told" ran 9.20 at 160 MPH back in the hazily-specified day and start talking money. I say "seller" instead of "owner" in this case, because it appears that this guy has a line on the car and hopes to turn it around for a quick buck: "i plan on buying this car and selling it for a profit it's not cheap." So there you have it- no price, seller may not own the car- what could go wrong? We don't know when it was built or raced, but the wishful-thinking rollbar seems to indicate late 1950s through late 1960s. Hmmm... wonder how hard it would be to make this thing nominally street legal? Imagine using this Austin as a daily driver!

It's hard to argue with the sheer awesomosity of that Bantam, of course, but what if your preferred flavor of racing involves turns as well as Schlitz cans? In that case your particular level of Hell has a parking area reserved for low-production orphan road-race cars, such as, say, this 1957 Devin with aluminum Rover Buick V8. This appears to be a Devin SS, but we can't say for sure; the seller doesn't feel like tapping the keyboard any longer than absolutely necessary, so there's not much in the way of description here. In fact, all we get is "(LOOKS LIKE A FERRARI!) NOT CHEEP but is valuable!" But really, what else do you need? The "NOT CHEEP" part is especially informative, and it augurs one of those lengthy Middle East peace agreement-style bargaining sessions that starts out with a $1,500,000 asking price countered by a $500 counteroffer and goes downhill from there. But just picture yourself behind the wheel of this fine fiberglass machine in a money-is-no-object vintage race, leaving all the dime-a-dozen Ferraris and Jaguars behind like so many Nash Metropolitans!


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Rob Emslie

I'm going with the Bantam as the Devin body alone is worth some bucks and if you could get your hands on it cheep (pun intended) you turn it easily.

Unfortunately it appears that the Devin owner knows what he's got, and so it will likely eat your wallet whole. It also appears to be only about 4 miles from my office so I could probably squint and see it from here.

The Bantam looks more hellacious, and I don't think will be as valued when finished. Still would make a nice conversation piece in the living room.