Despite not being a fancy, state-of-the-art set up, Mike and his team at H&H have a great thing going. The equipment does exactly what it needs to, his team is experienced and the shop has built thousands of vintage engines for customers everywhere!
It’s not every day that a photoshoot for Rod & Custom is what pushes you over the edge into engine building, but that’s exactly what got Mike Herman to begin his journey building V8s. Of course, this photoshoot wasn’t Mike’s first time being around engines, but before that moment, he hadn’t taken time to learn and understand the work.
Mike’s father, Max Sr., started an engine shop back in 1972 doing Model A work. As Mike tells the story, he was just out of college and decided to join his dad at a car show in Scottsdale, AZ where Jim Rizzo of Rod & Custom came through the booth.
“He asked if we wanted to do a Flathead article,” Herman recalls. “My dad said, ‘Sure, we’ll do it.’ He stuffed me in all the pictures. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to work a boring bar or anything. The issue took like nine months to come out, and it was like 10 pages in one issue, and then nine pages the next. The phone never stopped ringing, and I just had to learn on the fly. I shadowed my dad to learn all the tech and read whatever I could. I learned how to break everything and fix everything.”
That push into engine building was exactly what Mike needed, who said he might be working a desk job otherwise. Herman soon took what he learned from his dad and started his own shop, H&H Flatheads in La Crescenta, CA in 2003 – March 2023 will be the shop’s 20th anniversary.
At just 44 years old today, Herman has successfully built a name for himself and his shop in the vintage V8 world, focusing on Ford Flatheads, Lincoln Flathead V8s and V12s, Y blocks, Hemis, early Cadillacs, Nailheads, and others.
“I was fortunate enough to enter the industry at the right time, because within two years, I bought Navarro Racing Equipment from Barney Navarro,” Herman says. “That was perfect timing because I was up and coming and he was retiring. Since then, I’ve acquired seven other companies. I have eight vintage speed equipment companies under my H&H Flatheads brand.”
Now, Herman gets to add one more accolade to his shop’s name – Engine Builder’s and Autolite’s 2022 America’s Best Vintage Engine Shop award. H&H Flatheads is a modest shop on the surface – around 3,000 sq.-ft. of space, Kwik-Way boring bars, Sunnen hones, a Hines digital balancer, a Storm Vulcan surfacer, some hot tanks, and tons and tons of old and new engine parts.