Newport Classic Cars

1 The Immerso ’29 Highboy Roadster

 

Ermie Immerso, 3-time AMBR Award Winner — Member of 200 MPH Club

The level of engineering and craftsmanship displayed on this handbuilt ’29 Ford highboy roadster are nothing less than one would expect from three-time AMBR Award winner Ermie Immerso. Upon his death, two of Ermie’s roadsters were taken directly to the prestigious Peterson Auto Museum, after being purchased for a smooth three-quarters of a million dollars. It was also Ermie Immerso that built himself a lakester that gained entry into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club on it’s first pass.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Ermie Immerso was born with racing fuel coursing his veins. As a young lad in the late 30s / early 40s he street, and jalopy-raced, getting his chops as a racecar driver. During WWII he served in the Navy. In 1954, Ermie pit-crewed for Jimmy “Cowboy” Bryan. Their Indy racer handled with ill manners to say the least, but Jimmy, and Ermie managed to leave Indianapolis’ Brickyard with a second place win under their belts — Jimmy Brian, went on to win the Indy 500 in 1958.

In 1956, Ermie Immerso took to the salt at Bonneville with the Valley Auto Special a homebuilt belly tank built, and driven by Ermie. His first attempt at setting a Class D lakester record netted Ermie the fastest speed posted at the Bonneville meet for 1956. Ermie’s two-way average set a record of 213.190 miles-per-hour, and gained him an immediate spot in the Bonneville 200 MPH Club. In 1962, the Ford Motor Company shipped four brand-new high-performance 406-inch FE engines to stuff into a streamliner Ermie had built. The ’62 version with four 406s ran 283 MPH, and then 302 MPH in 1963 when Ford supplied a quartet of new 427s.

Ermie struck gold when he launched Thunderbird Products a buisness endeavor that produced high-performance exhaust systems. The highly profitable company allowed Ermie to pursue his wildest dreams. That said, Ermie wasn’t an extravagant man he was content wearing blue bib overalls, with an orange T-shirt, and working long hours in the shop. It was rare to see Ermie in attendance at a car show. Instead of hamming it up at the shows promoting himself as a personality Ermie had assistant Tayna Mank present to handle the logistics. Dennis Rickleffs the striper responsible for pinstripping the Orange Twist, and the Golden Star had nothing but good things to say about Ermie. To help us understand what kind of guy he was Dennis told a story about Ermie and his trusty shop dog. The dog lived at the hobby shop, and had free rein of the inside and outside premises. One Fourth of July there was a war’s worth of illegal fireworks going off in neighboring Compton, the loud commotion scared Ermie’s dog and he jumped the fence to get away. For month’s Ermie made it a habit to search the local pound on a daily basis. In 2004 Ermie had heart surgery, but it didn’t keep him out of the shop. At the age of 78 Ermie passed away. Dennis Rickleffs was contacted to pinstripe Ermie’s coffin. When Dennis spoke with Tayna regarding Ermie’s burial arraingements he asked Tayna what clothes Ermie was going to be buried in — Dennis was concerned it might be a “damn suit.” Tayna said his blue cap, bib overalls, and an orange T-shirt. Dennis replied, “ Good, Ermie wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

  

Ford Blue through and through

If there was ever a Ford loyalist it was Ermie Immerso. Ranking far beyond the average Ford finatic, Ermie had the Ford Motor Company’s backing behind all of his endeavors. From racing a Ford powered four engine streamliner attempting a World’s Land Speed Record at Bonneville to working as the engine shop foreman for Carroll Shelby, Ermie was a Ford man through and through. A good example of Ermie’s competitive sense of humor were the bathrooms at his 30,000 square foot hobby shop in Rancho Dominquez, California. On the men’s restroom door was a Ford blue oval, and on the woman’s restroom door was a Chevy bowtie.

The use of exotic Ford engines was yet another hallmark of hot-rods custom built by Ermie Immerso. In the engine compartment of the AMBR Award winning Track “T” “Golden Star” sat a de-tuned version of an extremely rare Ford Indy DOHC V-8. Under the hood of the 1989, and ‘91 AMBR recognized “Orange Twist” resided an Ardun equipped flathead with the car perched on Ardun OHV cylinder heads under it wheels for its display. To power Ermie’s blue Model “A” highboy he chose the consummate hot-rod engine, a 256 cubic-inch Ford flathead.  Notice in the photos the engine is fully-smoothed ala an Art Chrisman motor, and detailed in a like manor. The original (not reissue)  Navarro heads are fully polished and color-matched to the rest of the car. For carburetion three genuine Stromberg 97 carbs (not reproductions) sit on an aluminum intake manifold with progressive linkage. The exhaust system features stainless steel headers, and pipes custom made by Thunderbird Products, otherwise known as Ermie Immerso Enterprises.

True to the classic hot-rod recipe Ermie used a set of ’32 rails (’32 Ford chassis) for the basis of the Model “A” highboy. Take a look at the close-up photo of the undercarriage and you’ll notice every part, big and small has been detailed to show quality specifications.

About the Immerso ’29 Highboy Roadster

An important part of hot-rod history there’s a lot more to this custom built 1929 Ford Model A highboy roadster than meets the eye. Beneath its high-tech “smoothie look” exterior lies the undercarriage of a period correct traditional hot-rod. Built by 3-time AMBR Award winning Ermie Immerso this car is the ultimate example of where smoothie styling met with time-honored hot-rodding tradition. In contrast to the two over-the-top cars Ermie entered at the Grand National Roadster Show, and won this car is an exercise in understated beauty and functionality. Perhaps it was because Ermie designed, and built the blue car for his wife, or maybe he viewed the project as an excellent platform to exhibit a knack for minimalist restraint. Like Vincent Van Gogh, Ermie’s favorite colors were orange, and blue. While the AMBR winning track style T Golden Star and ’32 Ford “Orange Twist” were custom painted in bright Competition Orange with 24 carat gold accents Ermie chose blue, orange’s complimentary color for the Model “A”. Ermie utilized a fully smoothed and monochromatic blue color-matched theme throughout the car. Every rough finished casting from the Flathead’s cast-iron engine block to the ’40 Ford brake master-cylinder was painstakingly ground smooth, and polished by hand. Not one rough casting was overlooked, not even the hydraulic wheel cylinders concealed within the smoothed ’40 Ford brake drums. Newport Classic Cars’ Henry Mohrschladt is a stickler for maintaining his automobiles in top operational condition. In 2012 Henry had the ’29 highboy’s entire braking system rebuilt, or replaced with new parts including new aircraft grade stainless steel brake flex-hoses. Today thanks to always being properly stored indoors Ermie’s blue highboy is in near mint condition. There are no cracks, or blemishes in the paint and the show quality chrome-plating looks like the day Ermie picked it up from the chrome shop. 

High-Tech Old-School interior

Next to functional design, attention to detail and innovation was a hallmark of Ermie Immerso’s work. The blue car’s smoothed Model A dashboard carries a full compliment of German made VDO precision gauges with a traditional Sun tachometer mounted on the steering column. An unusual feature even among the trickest of high-tech street rods, Ermie incorporated a column-shifter for the 3-speed stick transmission in front of a shrunken banjo style steering wheel. The results provide ample foot room for the driver, and passenger, not to mention a much cleaner appearance. For safety, plus an old time hot-rod racer look there’s a triple chrome-plated rollbar tunneled into the body. A custom fully functional rumble seat doubles the car’s passenger capacity to four occupants. To deflect heat, plus add a nostalgic touch to the car there’s traditional tuck ‘n roll upholstery accented with Baby Blue pleated inserts. Custom milled billet aluminum door handles match a custom made billet aluminum inside rearview mirror.

Ford Blue through and through

If there was ever a Ford loyalist it was Ermie Immerso. Ranking far beyond the average Ford finatic, Ermie had the Ford Motor Company’s backing behind all of his endeavors. From racing a Ford powered four engine streamliner attempting a World’s Land Speed Record at Bonneville to working as the engine shop foreman for Carroll Shelby, Ermie was a Ford man through and through. A good example of Ermie’s competitive sense of humor were the bathrooms at his 30,000 square foot hobby shop in Rancho Dominquez, California. On the men’s restroom door was a Ford blue oval, and on the woman’s restroom door was a Chevy bowtie.

The use of exotic Ford engines was yet another hallmark of hot-rods custom built by Ermie Immerso. In the engine compartment of the AMBR Award winning Track “T” “Golden Star” sat a de-tuned version of an extremely rare Ford Indy DOHC V-8. Under the hood of the 1989, and ‘91 AMBR recognized “Orange Twist” resided an Ardun equipped flathead with the car perched on Ardun OHV cylinder heads under it wheels for its display. To power Ermie’s blue Model “A” highboy he chose the consummate hot-rod engine, a 256 cubic-inch Ford flathead.  Notice in the photos the engine is fully-smoothed ala an Art Chrisman motor, and detailed in a like manor. The original (not reissue)  Navarro heads are fully polished and color-matched to the rest of the car. For carburetion three genuine Stromberg 97 carbs (not reproductions) sit on an aluminum intake manifold with progressive linkage. The exhaust system features stainless steel headers, and pipes custom made by Thunderbird Products, otherwise known as Ermie Immerso Enterprises.

True to the classic hot-rod recipe Ermie used a set of ’32 rails (’32 Ford chassis) for the basis of the Model “A” highboy. Take a look at the close-up photo of the undercarriage and you’ll notice every part, big and small has been detailed to AMBR winning specifications. 

Make Offer 

News Feed

Car Auction16-Jan-2013
5 Cars are heading to the auction...

News Feed
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter and stay up to date with our vehicles.
Subscribe to: Monthly Newsletter
News FeedLocation Map
News FeedLocation Map
Location Map
Location Map
Facebook Twitter YouTube Newport Classic Cars

web site by aaronrobertson.com