19-20 January 2017

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection

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Lot 162

1929 Ford "Immerso Highboy" Roadster

  • Chassis no. 18-115349

Sold for $46,200

Please note that this lot is titled as a 1932.

256 cu. in. Ford 59AB flathead V-8 engine with Navarro aluminum heads and three Stromberg 97 carburetors on an aluminum intake with progressive linkage, three-speed column-shifted manual transmission, solid axle front suspension, live rear axle, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106 in.

  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • Built by three-time America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winner Ermie Immerso
  • The best of period speed equipment, classic construction, and modern “smoothed” styling
  • Only two owners since its sale by the Immerso Estate
  • Spectacular, show-ready condition throughout

Ermie Immerso was a classic old-school hot-rodder, born with racing fuel in his veins. He came of age street-racing jalopies, pit-crewed for Jimmy Brian’s 1958 Indianapolis 500 win, and joined the 200 mph club at Bonneville in his first run in a homemade belly tank. Ford noticed his success and began supplying him for ever-hotter engines, powering a series of streamliners that eventually broke 300 mph on the Utah salt. Eventually his highly successful business, Thunderbird Products, a manufacturer of high-performance exhaust systems, allowed him to pursue his wildest dreams, building roadsters that won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award no fewer than three times. Today, two of them reside in the hallowed halls of the Petersen Automotive Museum. Yet Ermie’s personality never changed—he remained a down-to-earth, “do-it-myself” mechanic, working long hours in his shop while wearing a blue hat, blue bib overalls, and an orange T-shirt, an outfit that became so iconic that he was buried in it.

For the “highboy” roadster offered here, built for Ermie’s beloved wife, Immerso used a classic 1932 Ford chassis, and a ’29 roadster body with “smoothie look” styling. Yet beneath this modern bodywork resides the consummate hot-rod engine, a 256-cubic inch Ford 59AB flathead V-8, fully smoothed in the style of Art Chrisman with original, fully polished Navarro heads; three genuine Stromberg 97 carburetors on an aluminum intake manifold, with progressive linkage; and an exhaust system made by Immerso’s own Thunderbird Products.

In contrast to the over-the-top cars exhibited by Immerso at the Grand National Roadster Show, this car is an exercise in understated beauty and functionality, with a fully monochromatic blue color-matched theme seen throughout. The smoothed Model A dashboard contains a full complement of VDO precision gauges, with a traditional Sun tachometer on the steering column. Unusual for a street rod, Immerso incorporated a column shifter for the three-speed transmission and a shrunken banjo steering wheel, creating more legroom for the driver and passenger, and a cleaner appearance. A fully functional rumble seat was provided, upholstered as was the interior in the “tuck ‘n roll” style, and the door handles and rear-view mirror were custom-machined from billet. Ermie even hand-lettered his name on the dashboard.

The roadster was sold at Ermie Immerso’s estate auction in 2006 to James Rollans, from whom Henry Mohrschladt acquired it four years later. While in the Mohrschladt Family Collection, the roadster had its entire braking system rebuilt or replaced with new parts, including new aircraft-grade stainless steel brake flex hoses, improving its drivability. It remains in mint, show-worthy condition, with no cracks or blemishes in its finish, and exquisite chrome plating. Accompanying it here is a book of professional photography and various documentation of Ernie Immerso’s life and exploits.

Spectacularly detailed and finished to the highest of standards by one of the greats of modern hot-rodding, the “Immerso Highboy” is a stunning example of the best of old school construction and state-of-the-art engineering, brought together in one show-stopping vehicle.


Please note that this car was awarded a 1st Prize at the 66th Annual Grand National Roadster Show in January 2015. Furthermore, it features a fiberglass roadster body.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more