Barbara Siemens Bruckner
At the height of the Depression, a young Harry Siemens was very impressed as he sat by the side of the road watching a powerful red 1931 Chrysler roadster roar past.
After serving in World War II, he married my mother and they had three girls. He opened an automotive shop, specializing in Chrysler products. On the side he built race cars that he raced at San Jose, Watsonville and Alviso speedways.
One day in 1975 at the Turlock swap meet, Mom and Dad met a long-haired guy selling car fenders. With great excitement Dad pulled a fender out of the pile and announced to my mother, “This is a fender for that 1931 Chrysler TD roadster!” She laughed, and said, “a man can always dream can’t he?” Dad bought the fender and went home with the guy to find what other pieces were left of the car. He found other parts of the car disassembled in a basket. Later Dad followed every lead he could for missing parts. One clue led him to a man in Australia for the windshield.
In 1989, Dad finished his roadster. When he registered it he found that it was one of only five registered in the world.
He was invited to show the car for the Children’s Hospital at the Silverado Concours d’Elegance. He made the trip okay, but panicked upon arrival. “What was I thinking,” he announced. Dad left the car and fled, leaving my mother to describe the car. Dad was nowhere to be found during the judging and almost missed his drive to get his first place win.
The car was shown a number of times at Silverado Concours d’Elegance (always winning or placing). The show benefited the children’s Hospital in Oakland. The car was also shown in San Jose at the annual benefit for the Children’s Discovery Museum until Dad died in 1998.
This year, in the spirit of Dad, the 1931 Chrysler Imperial Roadster TD straight eight rolled again for a cause. The car was paraded for the American Cancer Society Discover Shop in the Los Gatos Children’s Holiday parade. My mother, step-dad Vaughn and I rode in the parade, waving, honking and winning third place.