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Coachwork by Stabilmenti Farina
The Siata company was founded in 1926 by Giorgio Ambrosini, chiefly to manufacture and market performance accessories for Fiat automobiles. One of Siata’s earliest products, a pushrod-operated overhead valve cylinder head nearly doubled the power output of the Fiat 514, which debuted in 1929. The company’s ingeniously designed adjustable shock absorbers that followed, along with transmission upgrade kits fitted to Fiats throughout the 1930s moved the cars well upward in Mille Miglia and hill climb standings. Construction of a complete car was an early and central goal of Siata’s; one early Gran Sport model was driven to a class win by Piero Dusio in the 1937 Mille Miglia.
Following WWII, Siata’s effort to market road cars under the company name grew even stronger. The first successful model was the Daina series, which featured a Siata-built box-section chassis and modified Fiat 1400 suspension and driveline. A large number of body types were built, but it is the lovely Gran Sport roadster for which the Daina series is best remembered. A beautiful yet simple body was constructed to a high-quality standard by Stabilimenti Farina. The engine was good for at least 65 bhp thanks to the special Siata cylinder head and intake manifold with dual Weber carburetors. A strong contender in the 1,500 cc racing classes of 1952, due to a change in European racing rules, which disqualified the Siatas in the following year, many Daina Gran Sports were shipped to the US where they achieved numerous podium finishes in SCCA races. Only about 100 of these beautiful cars are estimated to have been built between 1951 and 1953.
According to the consignor, this is the earliest knownDaina1400GranSportinexistence,and oneofonlyahandful,perhapsfewerthanfive,of these early “A” Type GSs known to have survived. SL0208’s history begins with its previous owner, a resident of Arkansas who purchased the Gran Sport as a restoration project. The Siata remained in his possession for 25 years having been carefully disassembled. Some restorative work had begun but was far from completed when the consignor, a Los Angeles-based collector with a strong passion for rare and important Italian cars, purchased the car and began the restoration anew.
The stunning restoration that the Gran Sport now displays was performed by TC Restoration and its proprietor Tony Castellano of Palmdale, California. Completed in 2012, the striking yellow and black Siata made its concours debut at the Best of France and Italy show in Los Angeles where it was honored with the Best Italian Car trophy. In 2013, the Daina continued to earn accolades at concours with three Best in Class awards at the Greystone, San Marino, and Palm Desert Concours d’Elegance events.
What is even more significant about each of this Siata’s concours wins is that the Daina was driven from the consignor’s home to the shows, a very rare distinction among top trophy contenders. As the consignor intended to drive the car once completed, a few subtle upgrades were added during the restoration process. A turn signal control has been discreetly mounted under the dash, and an original 1951 Siata Daina five-speed gearbox was substituted for the car’s original four-speed. As a result, the Daina cruises much more comfortably at speed. Additionally, the cockpit features leather upholstery and full Wilton wool carpets in place of the original materials; likewise a Haartz cloth soft top replaces the vinyl top originally fitted.
Presented here is one of the rarest of all European open sports cars. Built from the ground up as a competitive event entry, Siata’s pioneering experience in engineering high-performance components are fully brought to bear in this elegantly designed roadster. Striking from any angle and finished to show standards, this rare Siata brilliantly embodies the Italian sports car experience of the early 1950s.