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 more…