Siata (Societa Italiana Applicazioni Trasformazioni Automobilistiche) was founded by Georgio Ambrosini in Turin in 1926 to manufacture tuning accessories for Italian (mainly Fiat) cars. Their cylinder heads with overhead valves (for the 500A) were particularly successful, and they also used superchargers for some applications. A few prototypes were built based on the Topolino including some examples of the 500 Gran Sport (1937) which was a spider with a rocket-like body and a 636cc engine. One of these, with a body by Zagato and driven by Piero Dusio (later to found Cisitalia) won its class in the 1937 Mille Miglia.
The Monza (coupe) and Pescara (spider) (both 1939) which were capable of 135km/h and 125km/h respectively. In 1939 a small number of cars called the Amica were built. Designed by Bertone and with bodies constructed by Motto, these were available as a Cabriolet or Coupe.
Siata 508C MM
1939 The war saw Siata turn to the production of equipment for the military before the site was totally destroyed by bombing in 1943. Following the war Siata launched an auxiliary engine for bicycles which was an immediate success and at the same time changed the meaning of Siata to Societa Italiana Auto Trasformazioni Accessori. and afterwards production again concentrated on tuning accessories.
In 1949 Siata released the new Amica, followed by the Daina and other road cars (see below). Competition cars were also built, based on both Fiats and their own road cars as well as through co-operation with Abarth. In 1961 the company became Siata Auto SpA. Through the sixties and seventies Siata produced cars based on Fiats. Production stopped in 1970 and they finally succumbed to growing financial problems in 1974 when ORSA purchased the name and all manufacturing rights.
The Amica '49' (using only the name from the pre-war car) was introduced in 1949. This used a tubular chassis with a body designed by Siata but built by Bertone. The mechanicals came from the Fiat 500B (later from the 500C) including the engine, which was a 569cc four cylinder unit, using the Siata cylinder head, with 22bhp - enough to propel the car to about 100km/h. A Siata 750cc engine with 25bhp was also available. Later came the Amica 51 (in 1951) and then, in 1956, the Amica 56 which used the chassis from the Fiat 600. Some cars were also built for the USA, in which market they used a 721cc Crosley engine.
Around 50 of these cabriolets based on the Amica were built.
Siata Daina launched in 1950 to complement the smaller Amica, the Daina was a GT car built both as a coupe and a trasformabile (convertible). The bodies of both versions were by Stabilimento Farina whilst the mechanicals were agian from a Fiat, this time the 1400. The engine was a 1393cc unit with 65bhp and a five speed gearbox. In 1951 the Rallye 1400 model modified the bodystyle to be more similar to the MG TD. The range was further increased with the addition of versions with stretched chassis', a limousine with six seats and an estate version.
In 1952 the design was again changed with the release of the Daina Sport, a two seat coupe and the 1400 Gran Sport, a cabriolet. Both versions were again by Farina and used the 1400 mechanicals and engine, but in the Daina Sport the engine was increased to 1500cc and produced 75bhp. A few cars were also built using American engines, including units from Crosley and Chrysler, whilst the last few production cars had bodies by Bertone. Total production was around 200 cars.
Introduced in 1952 this coupe used the V8 engine from the Fiat 8V together with a body by Stabilimenti Farina. When the latter closed production passed to Carrozzeria Balbo. A spider version was also built, as was a GT saloon with a body by Bertone and a variant with a Chrysler powerplant. Around 32 examples were built. Other info states that all Siata cars was build by Carrozzeria Motto , despite what badge there was on the car at delivery.
Launched in 1954, the Mitzi was a true 'microcar'. It was powered by a rear-mounted air cooled 398cc (62x66mm) two cylinder engine with 10bhp at 4000rpm. Hydraulic brakes, independent suspension (both front and rear) with torsion bars and a four speed gearbox were also present and the Mitzi could achieve 80km/h and consumed only around 4l/100km. The wheelbase was 1700mm with front and rear tracks of 1120mm. Production was undertaken under licence in Argentina.
The Siata TS was a modified version of the Fiat 1500, with twin carburetors it had 94bhp plus a variety of other small changes such as two-tone bodywork etc. Siata also produced a coupe version with a bodywork by Michelotti, produced also in Germany at Fiats Heilbronn factory. In 1964 the TS Coupe gained a 1600 engine (with 106bhp) a new front end with square headlights and some other small design changes.
Originally a prototype was built using Fiat 500 mechanicals, but this was not well received and so the next development, in 1965, used the 850 as a starting point. Production started in 1967 and continued until 1970, by which time around 3,500 cars had been built.
A two seat convertible car, the Spring had the 843cc engine from the Fiat 850, with 36bhp. Physically, the Spring had a wheelbase of 2027mm and a weight of 720kg. A maximum speed of 125km/h was achievable.
In 1969 the engine was reduced in size to 817cc in order to fall below the size requiring emission control equipment, and a variety of details were added to the cars such as locks, seatbelts and seats incorporating headrests. Changes were made to the rear lights, windscreen, brakes, dashboard and instruments.
1953 Siata Daina Sport Source
This is the abbreviated story of a Siata that I bought in 1985 at a flea market in Stowe, Vermont. Restoration process has been slow, however. I've been telling my friends “This is the Year!” for so many years it's really become a joke. But the journey has been so much fun I don’t mind at all. Every year I learn a little more and finish a little more, but there are still things to learn and do.
Al Maggiacomo, a serviceman stationed in Germany, brought my car to the U.S. in 1958. He loved Italian cars and while visiting Milano he visited a dealer who dealt in racing cars. Most were Alfas and too expensive, so he bought the Siata for $2500. It was Siata-badged and had a Fiat 1400-based engine, painted in a “Mediterranean Turquoise” with a red interior. He believed it had no racing history and may have been a show car. After driving it for some time he had his brother install a Triumph TR 3 engine in it. The brother who installed the engine was “Jocco” Maggiacomo. Jocco had a race shop in Poughkeepsie and was a character worthy of a book. Aside from having a long career in midgets and stock cars, a few of the other things he did were racing his Chevy-powered Ferrari at Lime Rock and a Ford Falcon at Sebring. At Sebring in 1964, Maggiacomo saved the life of Consalvo Sanesi, famed Alfa test driver, by pulling him out of his burning Alfa Romeo GTZ. He also built a Fiat-powered Formula Jr. with the plans to develop a Formula 1 car. Jocco was an interesting guy.
After passing through a few other hands, the Siata wound up in a New Paltz, N.Y. junkyard, and eventually arrived in Vermont in the possession of Dave DuBrul, who also owned Bandinis and an OSCA. I bought it from Dave, who came to be a good friend and gave me most of the information on the car to this point. Subsequently I also talked to Al Maggiacomo and another later owner. Dave had at first thought it was a Ferrari and then a Fiat or Siata 8V. Then he concluded that it was a Siata 1400/1500. To that end he had acquired two Fiat-Siata engines, which I bought with the car. Siata had close associations with Fiat and they obtained engines on which they stamped their own serial numbers. They modified these to varying degrees before they left the factory. One engine was slightly modified and the other was race modified.
John de Boer, compiler of The Italian Car Registry has been extraordinarily helpful and patient researching the car’s early history in Italy. He was able to trace the registration of the car from 3/31/54 (although a Certificato d’origine for the car dates to 2/27/51) to Ovidio Capelli, a Fiat agent in Milano with close connections to the factory. Capelli was another character worthy of a book. His racing career spanned the 1930s into the early 60s. The list of cars he owned, raced and/or commissioned goes on and on. To mention a few he commissioned and raced: the first Zagato-bodied Fiat 8V and Zagato Fiat 500. Also he had Touring build a series of lightweight Abarth modified Fiat 1400s.
By May of 1954 Roberto Montali of Ancona owned the car. Montali had some previous Mille Miglia experience and he entered this car in the 1954 Mille Miglia and again in the 1955 Mille Miglia, neither time finishing. He sold the car and after passing through at least one other owner it wound up at that dealer in Milano where Al Maggiacomo bought it.
It has been fun putting the story together although there are a few gaps that I would like to fill. For example how did the car come to be and what was Ovidio Capelli’s role? A document on the car refers to Gilberto Colombo of Gilco, the well-known frame fabricator. Did he just supply the frame? Even though the car was listed in the Mille Miglia as a Siata and appears to have a Siata badge there is no actual documentation of it being manufactured by Siata.
Siata built a variety of Fiat 1400 based cars referred to as Dainas. They used Fiat 1400 mechanicals and had a box section frame. Engines were numbered with an SL prefix which matched the chassis number. My car also uses Fiat 1400 mechanicals but it has a tubular frame utilizing round, square and oval tubing. At the front there is a Fiat cross member with suspension attached. At the back a Fiat rear-end is used but the suspension for some reason is changed from quarter elliptic plus coil springs to semi-elliptic springs only. The body is constructed entirely of aluminum. A number of people have said that the body must be Michelotti/Vignale but others have pointed to construction details that are not typical of Vignale. The dimensions are roughly 50 in. high, 64 in. wide and 153 in. long. The wheelbase is 95 ½ in. The wheels are steel centers with alloy rims. Interestingly, the frame construction and filled-in patches indicate that as originally designed the grill would have extended lower down and the side lights were between the grill and the headlights. I assume these changes were made to accommodate a front bumper. I don’t know if it ever was completed as originally designed but I moved the lights to where the holes used to be because I thought they looked better and I don’t intend to find bumpers for it. I am using one of Siata engines in the car. Where practical I am using parts from the race-prepared engine including the 1500 crankshaft. Rebuilding the engine was really reinventing the wheel. For example, rod and main bearings came from Austin Healy, Ford Tempo, Volvo, and Citroen plus additional machine work. I only had a parts catalog and a gasket set. Engine work credit must go to Dale at Motion Machine. I can't thank my friend Jack Brown enough for all his help with the car. Although really an old hot rodder at heart his patience wisdom and depth of knowledge of all things mechanical continues to amaze me.
I have been fortunate to obtain some photographs of the car in the 1954(#346) and 1955(#545) Mille Miglia. They show the license plate on the front. Documents resulting from tracing the 20442AN (Ancona) plate show chassis (telaio) number 021341, which probably refers to an early (ca 1951) Fiat 1400 that the car or parts from it were based on. The registration number (numero d’ufficio) is M0139154M, which indicates a Milano registration in 1954 and is the only number that I have actually found stamped on the frame. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the Milano license plate number, which could lead to more information.
If anyone out there has any thoughts, information or suggestions regarding the construction or history of this car, I would like to hear from them. I've been making real progress this past twelve months; starting the engine for the first time was a definite milestone. Maybe “this is the year!” Source
By Peter Voorhees Photos by the author and as noted
1951 Siata Fiat 1400 Coupe
|Car Information and Photos by Marque: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z|
|Motorcycle Information and Photos by Marque: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z|