Siata 208S #BS508 has endured quite a life by anyone’s standard. It left the factory sometime in late '52 or early '53 headed for Ernie McAfee’s California dealership.
Once there it languished for some time, undergoing a slow dissection at the hands of Mr. McAfee, the U.S. Siata importer. Over the following years, it seems from all accounts that BS508 served as a test mule, then the parts supply for those more fortunate examples. Dissection was followed by a fair measure of strain as its next known owner, California’s Hank Tubman, campaigned it in various road races. The stress resulted in open heart surgery toward the end of Tubman’s tenure, at which time a Buick V8 found its way into BS508’s engine bay.
Following this first surgery, BS508’s fate becomes less clear. 1968 sheds a beam of light on condition and whereabouts in the form of an article in the December issue of “Rod & Custom” magazine - open heart surgery again! This time our lucky Siata gets a Chevrolet V8 being installed for its then owner, “Eve of Destruction” folk singer Barry McGuire.
Following this episode, we can assume the car was enjoyed by its series of owners: Larry Moss, Gene Crestlake, a Charlie ????, Bobby Davenport, and finally Barry Russinoff. Noted “Siata-phile” Anton Krivanek found and acquired BS508 from Barry in July of 1988. Between '88 and the new millennium, Anton slowly acquired all the correct but missing original bits and the correct Fiat 8V engine. BS508 could not have asked for a better rehabilitative therapist. As a longtime lover of the marque, Anton’s therapeutic specialty perfectly suited him to the task at hand.
In December of 2000, New York’s Michael Schwartz acquired 208S #BS508 from Anton. While still in need of some measure of intensive care, Anton had erased many of the ravages of “Quite a Life.”
Floors were reconstructed, seats shells were in the works, and, most importantly, the “kit” included correct drive train components and most of the other rarities needed to complete the project.
Michael entrusted completion to Automotive Restorations, Inc., of Stratford, Connecticut. Having restored several bits of tasty Italian exotica for Michael in the past, the ARI staff were anxious to undertake the completion of the beautiful little Siata. BS508’s final surgery was its most extensive.
Though the original alloy body was in good order, a fair measure of cosmetic surgery was needed. This final heart transplant took the form of rebuilding all the original mechanicals This was followed by a skin graft, nervous system re-creation and, of course, all the usual lipstick and polish completed the process.
Unlike ourselves, the ravages of time truly can be erased in an automobile’s life BS508 is now what it was those many years ago, leaving the Siata works in 1952 or '53; who knows, but does it matter? It was beautiful then and remains so today.