1954 SIATA 208CS MEXICO COUPE
COACHWORK BY BALBO
Chassis No. BS 537
Engine No. BS 125
Blue and white livery
Engine: V8, 1,996cc., 140bhp at 6,000rpm; Gearbox: 5-speed manual; Suspension: front - independent, coil springs, rear - coil springs; Brakes: hydraulic drums all around. Left hand drive.
In 1953, there was a company based in Turin that was fast making a name for itself in America. It was called Siata. They employed 35 men and were larger than rivals O.S.C.A. or Nardi. They had actually been building speed car parts since 1926, mostly for Fiats. But it was in the 1950s, as sports car racing was starting in America, that the Americans discovered Siata and vice-versa.
When he was not racing cars, Ernie McAfee ran an exotic car showroom on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. McAfee's place was always full of the latest and best imported machinery -- particularly Italy's finest.
While visiting the New York Auto Show, McAfee was instantly attracted to the new Siata Spyder. He placed an order for 25 cars and persuaded his customer, Bill Doheny, the Beverly Hills magnate, to finance the purchase.
To sell the Siatas, McAfee entered one in the 1953 Carrera Pan-Americana. He sleeved the 8V cylinders down to qualify for the under 1,600cc sports class. Furthermore, in an effort to save weight, absolutely everything that could be drilled was, including much of the chassis, suspension, brake backing plates and pedals -- even the ignition key! The Holey Terror, as it became known, performed well until McAfee lost control and the car was badly damaged. The unhurt McAfee, as legend has it, sent the Holey Terror back to the factory to be rebuilt and prepared as a racing Mexico Coupe to compete in the 1954 Carrera, and the car was fitted with a specially tuned race version of the 8V engine fitted with two four-barrel Weber carburettors and a 5-speed gearbox. Unfortunately, it was not finished in time for the final running of the famous event.
McAfee competed with this Mexico Coupe at Palm Springs, but was tragically killed while driving a Ferrari 121LM at the 1956 Pebble Beach Races. Doheny was subsequently left with the remaining Siatas and in 1958 sold the Mexico Coupe to Mr. Wes Belt. Belt raced the car repeatedly, and eventually, in an effort to remain competitive, installed a small block Chevy. The car sat for many years until Belt contacted Rick Cole about selling cars. Belt relayed the Holey Terror story to Cole who, after purchasing the car, took it to Siata specialist Tony Krivanek. During the restoration the original engine (number BS 125) and gearbox were located and reunited with the car. Also, many holes in the chassis were discovered. The serial number BS 537 is stamped in an unusual location and is higher than any other Siata. Yet the matching engine number is an early low number which suggests it is from an earlier car.
The car was restored for vintage racing, and as such a roll cage, smaller 15 inch wheels, an oil cooler and a fire system were fitted. The Siata has competed very successfully in many vintage events including the Monterey Historics and the 1991 Mille Miglia Retrospective.
In about 1992, a complete rebuild of the transmission, suspension, brakes and carburettors was done at Phil Reilly's renowned shop.
This one of a kind car is an ideal competitor for most vintage racing and long distance touring events. This one-off racing Siata was generously gifted to The Scripps Research Institute by Mr. William Bauce. Christie's is honored to be offering this exceptional motor car on Scripps' behalf.