1954 Siata 208S Spider

Coachwork by Motto

Founded in Turin by Giorgio Ambrosini in 1926, Società Italiana Auto Trasformazione Accessori (SIATA) initially specialized in performance parts for FIATs, including dual carburetor manifolds, high compression cylinder heads, superchargers, and complete gearboxes. SIATA’s enhancements boosted FIATs’ competitive success and sales without FIAT’s direct involvement.

After WWII, SIATA resumed building FIAT-based sports cars. Renato Ambrosini, Giorgio’s son, won the 750cc Italian Championship in 1948 and 1949 with the FIAT-SIATA 750 Sport Competizione. SIATA then built the 300BC Spiders for the U.S. market, powered by Crosley’s 750cc engine. Larger cars followed, attracting American enthusiasts like Tony Pompeo and Briggs Cunningham.

Involved in FIAT’s Otto Vu project, SIATA had access to surplus V8 engines when production ceased after 49 cars. This led to the creation of the SIATA 208S, featuring stunning coachwork by Motto, known for styling other iconic cars like the Porsche Abarth Carrera. The 208S, tuned to over 125 horsepower, offered exceptional performance and sleek, aggressive design. Early owners praised its styling, handling, and rocket-like acceleration.

Priced just under $5,000 in the mid-1950s, the 208S was a perfect fit for California’s culture of design and performance. SIATA’s expertise in tuning FIAT-based cars, the refined beauty of the 208S, and its impressive performance make it one of the most sought-after high-performance spiders of the era, though rarely seen today.

Photos by Patrick Ernzen courtesy of RM Sotheby’s