Automotive history

Devel Motors Beat Bugatti to a V16. All It Has Now Is a Corvette

by Kyle Smith
9 July 2024 3 min read
Devel Motors Beat Bugatti to a V16. All It Has Now Is a Corvette
Photos courtesy Petersen Museum

The hypercar world is surprisingly crowded when you start to tally up the number of uber-exclusive, insanely powerful machines. The companies that make these vehicles tout their cars’ crazy performance stats, but hypercars are often purchased only as bragging rights. Many spend their lives carefully preserved in climate-controlled storage around the world, perhaps occasionally dusted. Because the appeal of hypercars relies on their statistics, someone is always building or selling The Next Great Thing that promises a quicker 0–60 or 0–100 time, a higher top speed, or more horsepower than you ever thought possible.

Sometimes, the next great record-shattering car is just a cloud of smoke. YouTube channel 337 Speed went on a deep dive into one such car and brought out some interesting information.

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Devel Sixteen rear 3/4

Meet the Devel Sixteen, born from the desire to create the most powerful and fastest car in the world. The wildly ambitious project was the idea of the Dubai-based Al Attar family, who at one point owned the tallest hotel in the world. Devel Motors first showed a prototype of the V16-powered car at the 2013 Dubai International Auto Show, claiming 5000bhp and a top speed of 348mph. When the company didn’t announce a price or an on-sale date at the reveal (below), the car industry quickly labelled the Devel as vapourware, a vehicle that would likely never see production. 

Then, in 2016, Steve Morris Engines in Muskegon, Michigan, posted a video of a wild, quad-turbocharged V16 engine on its dyno. I remember watching it, and along with a lot of other people, was shocked to see any part of the Sixteen come to fruition. The massive chunk of billet aluminium that had been whittled so carefully by CNC machines incorporated a lot of Chevrolet LS-engine architecture and actually held up to the wild 5000-horsepower figure claimed by Devel Motors three years before. 

So, the engine existed, and it matched the “performance at any price” ethos that its makers had promised. What about the rest of the car?

Devel Sixteen interior

That’s where the story gets sad again. Neither a production-spec transmission nor tyres existed that would put all 5000 horsepower to the road – or last until the car’s claimed top speed of 300 mph. Development of the chassis fell behind that of the engine, and even the engine never really got much further than the dyno video posted by Morris. The rolling sculptures that showed what the Sixteen could become started to look, once again, like nothing more than art pieces to draw eyes at car shows. 

Then, in 2017, Devel Motors brought another concept to the Dubai show and said they were accepting orders. This one was ready for production, they said, and they would begin building customer cars in a year or so. In April 2018, suddenly there was a video of a car – not just starting and creeping forward a few feet, but accelerating briskly down a public road, presumably near Dubai.

Something sounded off. Why weren’t they opening the engine cover and showing off the V16? The April 2018 clip of the car accelerating was clearly doctored. After months of confusion, Devel Motors cleared things up by allowing Youtuber Supercar Blondie to be the first person outside their organisation to drive the Sixteen. In the video, we learnt that the original plan had expanded to include a V8 base model, with 2000bhp. Devel planned to offer the V8 alongside two quad-turbo V16s, one with 3000bhp and one with 5000. Was the car they allowed Supercar Blondie to drive a V8 or a V16? No one said, and no one opened the engine compartment.

Based on photos posted by Devel in May 2021 showing the Sixteen’s “state of the art” chassis, 337 Speed suspects that the Sixteen was carefully reborn as a modified version of the mid-engine Corvette. A 2022 video from Supercar Blondie, in which she drove the first customer car, purchased three years prior, confirmed as much. The Youtuber opens the door of the car to reveal an interior that is clearly from a C8 Corvette, and she even admits as much. The engine, she says as she lifts the cover, is a V8; the customer lived somewhere that regulations wouldn’t admit a V16. When she closes the door, while sitting inside the vehicle with the key, the triple-honk emitted by the car will be immediately familiar to anyone who has spent time around the Corvette. Underneath its carbon-fibre skin, this Devel Sixteen is borrowing heavily from America’s Sports Car.

There is no shortage of companies doing this type of re-body makeovereven with the C8, and that alone is not such a bad thing. What’s less savoury, in the case of the Devel Sixteen, is the way the company allowed the original claims about its car to hang in the air while morphing the car into something totally different than it first promised. 

Is the Devel Sixteen still just vapourware, or have we simply witnessed the logical result of a young company learning what it takes to produce such a car? We will let you be the judge.

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