The 1948 Davis Devan offers four seats in a row. Really, this is not the only exotic car, which was auctioned on Amelia Island.
The collection of East Frisian jokes is rich in very flat pronunciations. But even in this environment, the next joke still stands out on the open level scale at the bottom. He continues: “Why are East Frisian buses always nine meters wide, but only three meters long? – because everyone always wants to sit in the front.” Once you’re laughing—or feeling embarrassed, depending—we get straight to the point that makes this joke the beginning of this article: because the car in question provided the inspiration for this joke at the time.
It is about a Davis Devan, built in 1948, which was recently sold by RM Sotheby’s at Amelia Island Auctions. The East Frisian motto is this car’s program: up to four passengers can be seated next to each other in a row; Starting from the driver’s left. do not you think so? Then feel free to watch the video above this paragraph. The exotic car easily picks up four adult men with a perfectly stocky build and rolls fast.
4.72m car with a small turning circle
The parking scene initially reveals another special feature of the classic car: while two wheels are attached to the rear axle, there is only one front wheel, which is also used for steering. This seems to bring huge advantages in terms of maneuverability: in the video, the American car makes its way in and out of the gap in record time and at the end demonstrates a miniature turning circle. And that’s even though it’s not short at 4.72 metres. There are also other innovative ideas, such as the in-car jack seal, which can be activated from the cockpit – similar to modern racing cars.
Of course, none of the big American automakers made Davis Divan. A second-tier brand—think Tucker, Kaiser Motors, or AMC—is not behind either. We owe the curiosity of the convertible three-wheeler to Glen Gordon “Gary” Davis (he’s behind the wheel in the video), an industrial designer and used car dealer from the US state of Indiana. Like many inventors before and after him, Wanted—inspired by a previously purchased race car converted into a tricycle, principles in aircraft design—with which Divan invented the lightweight and inexpensive car of the future ($1,000, $11,666 today or about 10,676 euros). Currently). means) in addition to consumption, streamlined (also thanks to the pop-up headlights) and roominess on top of that: with this skill set, Davis Divan was destined to conquer the US motoring world.
Designers, technicians, sellers – scammers
Mr. Davis was not only a skilled designer, technician, and salesman, but he was also blessed with a bit of criminal energy. In any case, his Davis Motor Company was busy selling cars for cash to dealers and individuals across the country. According to RM Sotheby’s, it made over $1 million from this, but without being able to get anything like serial production—it was supposed to start in Southern California—or even the ability to deliver vehicles to customers. No wonder the company had to shut down again in 1949 because its president went to jail for fraud. Then a handful of the diwan that had been built went into bankruptcy estate and was distributed to a number of creditors. Perhaps this was also the fate of this copy that is now auctioned.
As RM Sotheby reports in the car description, only 14 Davis Divan-designed cars have been registered: two prototypes – the first probably based on the aforementioned race car – and another 12 small production series cars. Other sources name 16 cars: two prototypes, eleven production cars, and three military branches. This is version number three, so it’s the first of the Diwan series. It was built in 1948 and spent most of its life in Michigan after the collapse of the Davis Motor Company.
Rescued in 2011, then completely restored
However, it was clearly not well taken care of: when the last owner discovered it there in 2011, it was said to be in dire straits. As a result, a complete restoration was initiated, during which the aluminum frame, covered with removable panels, was completely renovated and painted with brown metallic paint. The steel fiberglass roof is also new. Meanwhile, the beige and brown leather interior has moved to the single-row car.
The technology is also outdated. This also applies to the engine, which according to the auction house is a Hercules four-cylinder engine mated to a three-speed manual gearbox, which is said to speed the tricycle to a staggering 185 km/h. Other Divan models used other motorcycle aggregates.
Sold for $125,000
Apparently, a few collectors with a special flair and a sense of rarity, with a curious history, found each other and bid hard at the auction on Amelia Island last Saturday (March 5, 2022). The fun wasn’t cheap, Davis Rivan found a new owner for $125,000 (currently the equivalent of a good 114,000 euros). However, the tricycle missed the estimate of 150,000 to 175,000 dollars, which is currently the equivalent of 135,000 to 158,000 euros.
Yeah. It’s fun – I’d do it again anytime.
No I wouldn’t sit in something like that – very dangerous.
Anyone who shows up at a classic car event with Davis Devan is automatically the star of the event and has a lot to automatically tell about the car. However, it is better to do without an East Frisian joke – you do not want to alienate your audience.