Italians rarely use the word roadster, so here it denotes two variations of a sporty, open two-seater: the spider and the barchetta. The latter term originates from the 1948 Turin Motor Show, where Touring introduced the Ferrari 166 MM (Mille Miglia). The car’s design astounded Giovanni Canestrini, an influential Italian journalist. According to Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, the MM’s designer, upon seeing the car Canestrini declared, “I’m stunned, for that is quite unsettling. That’s not a car; it’s absolutely new. It’s a little boat, a barchetta.” The name stuck and has come to mean a roadster devoid of creature comforts.
As the 1950s progressed, barchettas became rarities, because the wealthy people who purchased sports cars wanted more refinement than these rudimentary roadsters offered. Enter the spider (usually spelled spyder at the time). Like barchettas, spiders delivered superior performance, but they also had comfortable seats, carpeting, and a full windscreen.
The 1953 Siata 208 S displays fabulous proportions—there’s that word again—with a mile-long hood and a short tail. The prolific Giovanni Michelotti designed the car, which dances a fine line between spider and barchetta, and the coachwork is by Motto.