Vintage R&T Road Test: 1969 Siata 850 Spring – Spring Into Spring

The Siata Spring was one of the more unusual production cars of the late sixties. And yes, these really were sold here in some numbers, enough that they were not all that uncommon of a sight, for a little while, anyway. They were a minor fad; something about a cheap little roadster that had classic styling cues and a fold-down windshield; perfect for Malibu or Venice, California. Not so much for Iowa.

Siata had a long history, going to 1926. But small coachbuilders were struggling (or worse) by the sixties, so Siata took a gamble on something a bit different. In a way, this was something of a cross between cars like the Fiat (and Renault) Jolly, built in the fifties by Ghia and the Mini Moke. Something to be seen in, and not for the daily commute or long trips.

The Spring was based on the Fiat 850 sedan, not the Spider, as I once assumed. That means it had all of 42 hp, resulting in a 25 second 0-60 time, a bit slower than a VW Beetle. But who’s in a hurry, when you’re cruising the beach or the nightclubs? Yes, this was a chick magnet in its time. As well as a chick car.

As to its practical qualities; they were limited. And the price wasn’t exactly a bargain; it was several hundred dollars more than the svelte and quicker 850 Spider. But if you had to have something different, it was a lot cheaper than an Excalibur.