Hoo Boy! This one leaves me almost speechless. I do love a Siata 208. I love any Siata 208; but a Siata once owned by Steve McQueen — now that’s a show stopper. This Siata was the sportscar that McQueen bought himself shortly after his film career began to take off. This was in Hollywood’s studio era, and when studio management saw it, they forced him to sell it. They said it was too flashy. You know a car is something very, very special when it’s too flashy for a movie star to drive around in. I can’t image what would be more eye-catching, seeing this little grey barchetta (before it’s respray) bombing through Topanga Canyon, or seeing “The Cooler King” behind the wheel. Today, Fantasy Junction in Emeryville, CA has this stunner sitting in their showroom.
Famous ownership aside, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the details of the car. Everything from the braided leather door strap and hinge, to the chrome door jams, the original Ernie McAfee Foreign Cars sticker in the window, the Heuer clock and chronograph on the dash, the recessed door handles — you can get lost in every square inch of this magnificent machine.
There were some small sacrifices made for reliability when the engine was rebuilt in 2008, opting for a modern distributor and generator (the original parts come with the car). These modern upgrades certainly won’t keep you from entering this car in any event I can think of. Even the notoriously difficult to enter Mille Miglia would certainly accept a Siata 208S of any provenance. At 137hp, there aren’t a lot of places you can’t drive this car. 137 is a huge number for horsepower in 1953; a ’53 Cadillac had 210hp, and weighted 4800 lbs. This little Siata 208S weighs less than half that.
There’s no question that this is a tremendous car. Sure it’s $1.3Million, but then modern Ferrari Enzo’s have been known to trade at those kinds of prices, and I know which I’d rather have. Don’t worry though, popping over to the dealer’s detail page and basking in the photos is free. You can also read more about this Siata 208S in the marvelous book, McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon, which I highly recommend.