850 in Drag – 1970 Siata Spring

Siata’s Spring is kind of an odd duck. Can you imagine the discussions between management and design? “Well, Gianni, Alfa Romeo is doing a Gran Sport Quattroruote Zagato to celebrate their heritage by dropping a miniaturized 6C1750 GS Spider Zagato body on their Giulia platform. And in America, everyone is putting 1940 Ford and Rolls Royce hoods on their VW Beetles. We’re falling behind the market here, so let’s get on with it and throw something together so people know Fiata (?) has still got it!” And thus, the Spring was born – a classic car that does not draw on Siata’s distinguished history (or Fiat’s, or anyone else’s), rather looking like an anonymized picture of a classic car you see in one of those ads for body shops in the phone book. Check out this 1970 Siata Spring for sale for $3900 in San Diego, CA.

1970 Siata Spring right side

Unfortunately for the seller, this picture does a good job of showing where the designers went wrong. The rear engine seems to require an overly long, squared off rear deck that is unlike anything on a car of the time it’s meant to evoke, and the front end is equally boxy for some reason (“And Gianni, give it a giant frunk while you’re at it!”). The whole thing has the effect of a rectangular box on spoke wheels with classic fenders tacked on.

1970 Siata Spring left rear

Speaking of tacked on, check out those tail lights – hey, why bother to integrate them when you could just mount the original 850 Spider’s tail lights to a metal bar and just bung the thing onto the back of the car? Conveniently, they were able to reuse the donor car’s engine cover. Snark aside, what could you do with this car to redeem its unfortunate design? Well, let’s start by getting rid of those silly spokes – those might actually look cool and different on another flavor of 850, perhaps the coupe since it’s got a splash of Ferrari in the design (or if you want to be really funny, put it on the 850 van). And then for this car, how about either steel wheels and caps as found on low-spec versions of the 850 (van & sedan), or something fancy like aftermarket Cromodoras? As for the engine and suspension, there used to be entire catalogs of performance parts from places such as PBS and Bayless. Bayless still exists, so if you want to get beyond the stock 55hp out of the 903cc engine, this would be a stealthy place to do it.

1970 Siata Spring interior

The interior looks remarkably good, as does the top. Said to be a southern California car all its life, and purchased in Los Angeles by a little old lady (wait, isn’t that a song?), the car last ran 6 years ago, and the engine turns. It has been sitting in a garage for the last 20 years, but the seller gives no indication of its mechanical condition. Siata did do a good job improving on the 850’s dash design – this slim piece with its 3 centrally-mounted round gauges is quite nice. The top is also in good shape, though it might not hold up to repeated use.

1970 Siata Spring engine

Here’s the engine, which looks pretty complete. Springs probably needed the same panels to help with cooling the engine, and probably were prone to the same engine fire risks as stock 850s, so make sure those issues are preemptively managed. Other than that, the condition of this car doesn’t look too bad – if you can put up with the rough cosmetics, this might be a good car to mechanically restore before passing it along to someone who likes a faux classic but finds an Excalibur too big, a Quattroruote too expensive, and a Rolls Beetle too hoity toity.

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2 Responses to “850 in Drag – 1970 Siata Spring”

  1. bluetoes591 Says:

    That things makes those VW Beetle based MG T series kit cars look positively elegant.

  2. steve in podunk Says:

    Way too much chianti over lunch in the executive dining room at the Siata works is my guess

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