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by Jay Traugott
Although it didn't survive past the 1970s, Siata built in its heyday some of the most beautiful Italian Etceterini sports cars, attracting fans such as Steve McQueen.
Look back at the Italian automotive industry and you'll find some of the most beautiful cars ever built. While countries such as Germany often favored a function-over-style approach to their cars, Italy always went with what was beautiful, period. While it's unfortunate that many of those early Italian automakers are no longer around, their influence and inspiration lives on every time a new Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati or anything of the like roles off the assembly line.
For those who are unfamiliar with any of those now defunct Italian brands, don't worry, you're not alone. That's why we're here to inform and educate you on automakers such as Siata. The name is an acronym for Societa Italiano Auto Trasformazioni Accessori, or Italian Car Transformation Accessories Company. It was founded in 1926 by Giorgio Ambrosini, an amateur racing driver who had the idea to sell performance parts originally manufactured by Fiat. Following the end of World War II, the small company began to build sports cars of its own, the first production model appearing in 1948.
While the company never became the success story it hoped to be, it still produced a number of beautiful sports cars and was quite active in racing before it was forced to shut its doors in 1975 due to the after effects of the 1973 Arab oil crisis. But there were happier times for Siata, most of which occurred during the heyday of what's perhaps the best era of Italian sports cars and design - the 1950s. That first car, the Amica, was in production until 1952 just before the Daina was launched. Although its production run was short, a modified Amica took part in the 1948 Italian Road Racing Championship.
This model was followed up by the 300BC Barchetta Sport Spider, of which only about 50 were made. Both cars were powered by Fiat engines. But it was in 1953 when Siata launched the 208S. Designed by Pininfarina and powered by a Fiat engine, just 35 units were built in two years. Body styles included both a coupe and convertible but some people may actually confuse them with Ferraris from that era. An easy mistake to make considering Pininfarina did styling for both companies. Also benefiting from this styling was the Daina, of which one is now up for sale on eBay. Despite its $98,000 asking price, the seller is claiming it's quite a bargain.
For example, if one was looking for a 208S, then they'd have to pay no less than three quarters of a million bucks for one that's been restored. Steve McQueen's old 208S recently went for $1.5 million. Although the Daina isn't quite as well known as the 208S, it's equally beautiful. This particular Daina happened to be restored by the brilliant and skilled people at The Creative Workshop, in which we've previously done a feature story
on. Having inside knowledge of this one-of-a-kind restoration shop's expertise and attention to detail, we have no doubt that this 1953 Daina is of the highest quality in every way.
It can be displayed at car shows as well as being fully roadworthy. With only 18,721 miles on its odo and complete with a custom-made tonneau cover, this is a rare opportunity for any Etceterini aficionado to have something like this as a part of their collection.