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[Video] Ermie Immerso’s Last Highboy Roadster

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Owner Scott Holly tells us about a jaw-dropping piece of hot rod history. This smoothie-styled Highboy is puzzled together from the body of a 1929 Roadster and the chassis of a 1932 Ford and is powered by a 256-cubic-inch Ford 59AB flathead V-8 engine. Even more impressive, though, it comes straight from the estate of legendary hot-rodder Ermie Immerso.

Legendary Hot-Rodder Indeed

Ermie Immerso is famous in the auto world for a number of reasons: his successful Southern California-based performance exhaust company, Thunderbird Products – which is famous itself for producing Smitty mufflers and more- his place in the 200 MPH Club at Bonneville Salt Flats and his other land speed records and his quality roadster designs. Scott’s artifact of machinery is one of the final pieces of Ermie Immerso’s legacy. His roadster is the last Highboy Mr. Immerso builds before he leaves this world at age 78. Despite an intense heart surgery during the fall of 2004, a few years before his death, Mr. Immerso refuses to slow down and instead spends the end of his life just as passionate about hot rods, if not more.

A Labor of Love

Ermie pours his blood, sweat and tears into this particular Highboy and the passion shows in the final product. There’s a very special reason for this. He isn’t working on a vehicle for himself or for another racer. This 1932 Highboy roadster is meant to be a gift for his wife – and he builds it with her specific taste in mind. Unlike most of the handiwork where his personal taste shines through, this car isn’t over-the-top, flamboyant, dramatic or intense. Instead, this roadster’s beauty is extremely understated and functional. Extra care goes into the driver compartment – the choice to use a column shifter with a three-speed transmission and a shrunken banjo steering wheel helps to make more legroom for both the driver and passenger.

The Old Becomes New

After Ermie’s death, the Highboy goes on a long journey. It is sold as part of his estate for $50,850, then changes owners number of times before it finds itself in Scott’s hands. During this period of time, a number of changes and upgrades are made. Every braking mechanism is either repaired or completely renewed. Most notably the brake flex hoses are replaced with stainless steel, aircraft-grade flex hoses. “If you’re a hot rod guy, you see all kinds of incredible detail that he did in smoothing the block,” Scott says. “I mean, the guy was just incredible. It’s a really cool car.” It is Scott. And we are.

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