When I finally share the final story on the Sieber Special, it will end with a statement something like “so we finally found all three Siebler Specials – maybe more.” But the story couldn’t have started out farther from the truth – at least at the time which started back in 2010.
The First Clue
Erich Schultz, consummate automobile historian, designer, builder, restorer and more started me off with our first piece of evidence in 2010. He found an American Special advertised for sale in a 1961 issue of Hot Rod magazine. Not much to go on and no reason to believe that the person selling it at the time would turn out to be significant so we took note of the photo and move on. Here’s the ad from the 1961 issue of Hot Rod Magazine (I’ll replace this with a better scan shortly).
I didn’t immediately put this together – put Erich Schultz did. A few years after identifying the ad in Hot Rod magazine, Erich sent me a page from “Tam’s Old Race Car Site” which featured a mystery car that he recognized was the same body. Tam’s didn’t know what the car was and were asking for help on identifying the car. We didn’t either at the time so another clue to file – but no answer, seemingly, on the horizon. Here’s the page from Tam’s site with photos enlarged below:
The Third Time’s The Charm
They always say that researchers and historians need to be patient. That’s not me, and I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing. I guess it depends on how I feel the day someone asks me the question. In late 2012 I decided that the Hot Rod ad needed to be researched more – so I asked myself the question “Who was Dick Siebler?” I was about to find out.
“Siebler” is not a common name and that always makes the research easier, and in quick time I tracked down Dick Siebler’s son John Siebler. I learned much about his father and he suggested that I get in touch with his sister, Patricia, who had more photos and history.
I first talked to Pat on December 30, 2012 and had a great time getting to know her. Pat sent me several historical items about the car and one thing I learned was that the blue “mystery” car, now known as the Siebler Special, was the second car her father built. Let’s look at one of the articles she sent me about her father’s car today:
The Siebler Special
High-Desert Spectator Magazine: 1967
Richard Siebler builds cars. Not too many cars, it’s true. Certainly not as many as ford or Chevy or Rambler. Not even as many as Chrysler or Buick. In fact, he actually has built very few cars, two to be exact.
But what Richard Siebler’s cars lack in quantity, they certainly make up in quality. The Siebler Special is a low long sports car which Dick has painstakingly put together by hand over the past two and a half years. The body is 100% fiberglass, it has a tubing frame on a 100 inch wheelbase. It is powered with a modified Chevy V8 engine with 283 cubic inch displacement.
It has a three speed Chevrolet transmission, has fuel injection and a 1956 Ford pickup rear end. Total curb weight is only 2140 pounds. Top speed is estimated at over 150 mph. Dick says he has invested $1200 dollars and 4000 hours of labor in the car and admits he has turned down offers of $6000 for the vehicle. Begun in February 1960, the car was finally licensed on August 18, 1962.
Dick Siebler is a 39 year old native of Nebraska. He arrived in the Antelope Valley in late 1961 from San Fernando. He is presently employed at the Rocket Research Labs at Edwards as a welder. He has a wife who shares his interest in the car and three kids who are also getting the bug. He has been working on cars since he was 14 years old. He built his first “Siebler Special”, a vehicle similar to the present one, in 1955.
Dick’s goal, his dream, it to go into commercial production. He has designed a three passenger sports coupe which he hopes to put on the market in the not too distant future. It too will have a fiberglass body and a large American engine. It will be designed to sell for under $4000 dollars. Again Dick admits he probably won’t compete with the Big Three in quantity of cars, but hopes to give them a good battle on quality and performance.
Dick hopes to have his first model roll off the assembly line in a year or less. In the meantime he spends every spare moment tuning and improving the present car, and naturally enough, drawing huge crowds of admirers wherever he goes.
So we found and identified car #2 – the Siebler Special. The Hot Rod magazine ad that Erich Schultz had found must have been when Dick was selling his first Siebler Special. But would we find the car – his first Siebler Special? Here’s a clue from our “artist in residence” – Dan Palatnik. You’ll have to “stay tuned” to learn the rest of the story.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.