Sold for $313,500 at 2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction.Sold for $330,000 at 2016 The Finest : The Elegance at Hershey. Spyder
Chassis #: ST403BC
Engine # 308748
Considered 'Baby Ferrari', or, the oft overlooked sports car builder from Torino, SIATA would get its start by making good cars even better. In time, the company would realize it could do it better. Those early days of doing it better would come in the early 1950s with the Siata 300.
Founded in Torino, Italy in 1926, Giorgio Ambrosini's company would first exist tuning other automobiles, namely, FIAT automobiles. Those at SIATA would soon realize they had everything necessary to start production of their own automobile.
Starting out small, the company would get its feet wet with the Amica. However, Ambrosini had larger ambitions. Therefore, in 1951, the company would introduce its sporty two-seater Barchetta known as the 300BC Sport Spider.
Chassis ST 403BC would be one of those 300BC Sport Spiders. Its place within the 300BC Sport Spider lineup is a badge of merit to this car as it is just the third chassis to have been produced by Siata. Completed in early 1952, the car, with its rare Bertone body, would make its way to Otto Linton's Speedcraft Enterprises and would be sold to its first owner on the 1st of June of that year.
The car's first owner would be a Paoli, Pennsylvania man by the name of Henry Wessells III. A man that would become a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, as well as the American Alfa Romeo Owner's Club, Wessells would take part in a number of regional races.
One of those places Wessells would compete would be Watkins Glen, but this was before the well-known racecourse built atop the hill. The original Watkins Glen circuit passed through the center of the small village and would traverse the countryside before spilling back into town. Scenic and fast, the circuit was a challenging circuit and a great achievement if one performed well there. Wessells would do just that with his 750cc Sport Spider. In what was to be the final running of the Queen Catherine Cup race on the street course, Wessells would come through to finish 2nd in class. One year later, and this time a closed circuit, Wessells would repeat the feat finishing 2nd.
Not long after its 2nd place result in the '53 Queen Catherine Cup, the SIATA would be sold to a Herbert Whiting of Cleveland, Ohio. Kaye Heir would purchase the car about five years later and would use the car in a number of regional events, including races at Put-In-Bay, Watkins Glen and Cumberland.
J.D. Ingleheart of White Plains, New York would buy the car in 1962 and would retain it for some thirty years. Unfortunately, after the 1980s the car would be stored away and would rarely be seen. Then, suddenly, the car would make a rather surprising appearance at the 2008 Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance and this would renew interest in the Sport Spider.
Just two years later, the car's current owner would acquire the car. The owner was a well-versed lover of SIATA and determined to buy the car for its role in the road racing scene of the United States during the early 1950s.
However, after having been hid away for more than a decade and having had many years of being ridden hard, the car needed a full restoration. Experts John de Boer and Paolo Epifani would be commissioned to bring the SIATA Sport Spider back to its former glory. With help of the Simeone Automotive Museum and their extensive documentation about Henry Wessells, a more complete picture and restoration could be undertaken. Invoices, documentation and other materials were all helpful to the process.
While there was practically no way of telling if the engine is original to the car or not, there would be much in the way to suggest that it was. Furthermore, a great deal of time would be taken to remove the racing upgrades and retaining original components. The result would be nearly $250,000 worth of restoration costs, numerous documentation and photographs and a SIATA Sport Spider reminiscent of what helped to make SIATA remain in business until 1970.
In 2012, the car would make its return after restoration. It would begin at Amelia Island, where it would be lauded for its simplistic beauty, and then at Sebring's Galley of Legends. Otto Linton would be in attendance at the event and it would be a very special moment to see him, 94 years young, take a lap around Sebring in this very SIATA. The work would be rewarded when Linton himself would say everything was 'perfect...every detail correct.'
In June of 2012 the car would win Most Outstanding Competition Car at the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance and would then stand on exhibit at the Simeone Museum as part of a Best of Italy exhibit.
Shown in publications and eligible for entry in such events as the Mille Miglia Storica and the Colorado Grand, this SIATA has come out of hiding in a very big way.
The SIATA Sport Spider would be part of an impressive lineup at the 2015 Bonhams Quail Lodge auction. This successful competition Sport Spider, third 300BC produced and much lauded example of the breed would result in a sale price of $313,500.By Jeremy McMullen