SIATA -Barker Found

  The SIATA shown on this site, (and above) with the Barker engine, was built by SIATA (Societa

 Italiana Applicazione Trasformazioni Autombilistici SpA, Turin, Italy [1926 - 1949] which later 

became SIATA Auto SpA, Turin [1949 - 1961]. They essentially built performance equipment 

for the Italian car Fiat. Their first production car was the “Amica” and the “Daina” around 1950.  

The Barker engined car was the SIATA series 300 BC with approximately fifty cars being built. 
Some of the cars were sold in Italy with Crosley four cylinder, overhead cam engines. The bulk 

of the cars were sold to the United States to a dealer in New York named Tony Pompeo with a

 few going to Ernie McAfee in North Hollywood, California. John de Boer ( iicar@earthlink.net )

of the Italian Car Registry has made a study and search of  the SIATA cars and in particular the 

one’s in the United States. 
  One can assume that Bob Barker knew Ernie McAfee (maybe Jack McAfee as well) as in the 

late 1940s, early 1950s, the custom racing and sports car community in the Los Angeles area 

was a small one. The McAfee shop was only a few miles from Bob Barkers shop in Burbank. 

We know Barker planned to install one of his engines into a sports car. In an interview with

 Barker’s spouse Myrtle she stated he wanted to install one in a sports car to test the engines 

durability and performance. Barker may have been working with McAfee in preparation to do 

an installation at the time of his death in 1952. We do know that Ernie McAfee bought all the 

remaining engines, spare parts, and perhaps tooling, from Myrtle Greene Barker. In his 

brochure (Tri-Barker) he states he is going to produce one-hundred engines. Hard to do 

without the original tooling. So it looks like Ernie McAfee carried on with Barker’s original 

plan. He did one installation and was successful. As stated in the magazine article about 

the Del Mar race, brake problems caused the car to be sidelined. So far I have not been able 

to find any records of it running in other competitions. The whole program ended with 

Ernie’s death in a sports car race in Pebble Beach, California in 1956.

  Another interesting side to the sports car story is that Joe Henning (Artist and Automotive 

Stylist)  tells of he and Douglas Charuthers ( a midget driver, race car builder - owner, and 

owner of Viking Trailer Mfg. Co. in Aneheim, CA, at the time.) visiting Barker to show him 

sketches (done by Henning) of a sports car they were planning to build for production and 

were interested in using the Barker Rocker Arm Engine. Unfortunately, that was just before 

Barker was killed in the plane crash and they were unable secure the engines. 

  Through the efforts of Rex McAfee (Jack’s son) and John de Boer, we have located the 

original SIATA that ran the Barker engine. The car now lives in Northern California and the 

owner, Dennis Varni, was unaware of that part of the car’s history ( the car now has a 

Crosley Engine - Laurence Deutsch has the original engine.) until a visit by John de Boer 

and his father to verify it’s origins. 

  Little by little the story of the unusual Barker Engine unfolds. One day we may know 

the complete story.
 

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