The Miraculous Story of My “53″ Buick

I am finally taking the time to share the story of how I found my grandfather’s 53 Buick Riviera at a swap meet. Even twelve years later, it’s still hard for me to believe. The Buick is not just a car to me, its part of my family history, so I’ll begin by sharing a bit of background about my grandfather.

Denny Sermersheim was part of “the greatest generation”. He was given the nickname “Summertime” by his C.O. during World War II. His love of engines started at an early age. Denny attended Carter Carburetor School in St. Louis, MO, and was working at Allison Engineering in Indianapolis, IN when he enlisted in the Navy. After attending Packard Marine Engine School, he was the engineering officer of the Ron 9 PT Boat Squadron. Based in the South Pacific, Denny’s squadron was the team that rescued John F. Kennedy when he was stranded on an island behind enemy lines. That story was depicted in the 1963 film “PT 109” staring Cliff Robertson and Robert Blake. I’ve shared a great photo that I have of Denny, with a smile on his face, making a still out of scraps in the jungle to make the time at war a bit more bearable.

After the war, not wanting to live with humidity ever again, Denny moved his family from Indiana to Inglewood, CA. He never lost his enthusiasm for perfecting the performance of an engine so he went to work for Harry Mann Chevrolet and then on to Simpson Buick. In 1953, wanting to own his own business, Denny bought a piece of land in Twentynine Palms, CA, about two hours outside of L.A. He went back to Jasper, Indiana, where he had grown up, to enlist the help of his father, Heamer, to build a home, and Denny’s new business, “Summertime’s Carburetor and Electric Service”. The Business slogan from day one was: “Engines Tuned Like A Fine Violin”. Like myself, my great-grandfather Heamer was a cabinet maker and musician.

While back in Indiana to pick up Heamer, Denny purchased a brand new 1953 Buick 2 Door Riviera 56R for $3500. Before he left the lot, Read The Rest

Cast Aluminum Windshield Posts

This was a project that I did a few years back, nine to be exact, that took more time than money. I saw a picture of Walt Rose’s ’27 T roadster in the book “The American Hot Rod” when it came out. I knew that I wanted something similar for my roadster pickup. The foundry patterns were made using 1’’ thick poplar, polyester body filler, and 3/8’’ aluminum plate.

I made the posts longer than needed and cut them down a ½’’ to ¼’’ at a time until I was happy with how it looked. Here’s some photos of the process.

A “B” for my “A”

Ford Model B Engine

For the last few years I’ve been waiting for the right model B engine for my roadster pickup to come along. The few I’ve gotten close to have either been beyond my budget or I’ve been way to late. So last week this one came my way and I bought it! It was taken out of a ’29 model ‘A’ pickup that was being put back to stock specifications back in 1981 and has been in storage ever since.  The Model ‘B’ engine was an improved version of the model ‘A’.  It’s stronger and more powerful, so it was sought after by racers and hot rodders.  It first came out in 1932 and they’re getting harder to find.  It came with a ’32 gearbox that will be an improvement over my model ‘A’ gearbox.

Also last month, I finally had a chance to make a 3-piece hood for my roadster. It’s made of 18 gauge steel.  I formed the top over a piece of 4’’ pipe that was fastened to a sawhorse. I modified a pair of vice grips to form the bead along the back of the hood. A friend in Riverside punched the louvers for me.

I should also say RIP to the great George Shearing whom we lost last month. I listen to his early trio and quintet on an almost daily basis.

Happy Holiday’s

Hemer at Holiday InnThe photo is of TK’s great-grandfather at the “Holiday Inn” on his way to California in 1953. He made the trip West with his son Denny in his new 1953 Buick which we found many years later for sale at the Long Beach car swap meet. It’s a strange miracle that we now have that car! We have a busy few weeks coming up but wanted to wish everyone Happy Holiday’s and Strange Miracles to all! Check back soon for photos of current projects.

Road Trip-Austin

The Hot Rod Revolution

I normally don’t like car shows, but when we heard that the folks at The Jalopy Journal were putting on a show at the historic Austin Seaholm Powerplant with no more than 100 pre-1948 cars, we had to go. To enter the show, the cars had to be originally built back in the day, or built traditionally like they were in the 1940′s 50′s or 60′s.

The Hot Rod Revolution was held on Nov. 20th and was well worth the long haul with my roadster pickup from California to Austin. Most of the shows I’ve been to only have a small percentage of cars that interest me, but at the Revolution every car was a perfect example of the early days of car customizing and hot rod building. It turned out to be a great group of people, cars, music and food. The city of Austin was a great backdrop to my favorite car show yet and seeing friends while there made the weekend even better. Below are pictures of a few of the cars. To see even more photos of the show and other pics of the weekend you can click here.

Roadster Pickup gets Upholstery

TK Smith Roadster Pickup-Frank Lloyd Wright Building Joshua Tree

TK is sooo close to finishing the roadster pickup that he has been building in his free time for more than ten years.We picked the car up from the upholsterer this morning. Mike Peterson of Peterson Upholstery executed a beautiful chocolate brown 2″ tuck n roll on the interior sides, back and seat cushions. We were so inspired on the way home that we stopped in at the Frank Lloyd Wright and Lloyd Wright designed Joshua Tree Retreat center to snap some photos.

Custom Fabricated Roadster Step

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TK made these steps for his Roadster Pickup that he has been building for many years. These are one of the final few details. He made the brackets from 1/2″ steel and foundry pattern of MDF with lettering cut out of acrylic. Last weekend, TK was able to start up the roaster for the first time! It’s been a long time coming but this project is almost complete. See a history of the build .

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