September 18, 2015

Photo Essay: A Haven for Hotrodders

It may look like a junk pile...

...but everything at H&H in La Crescenta can be used to rebuild—or customize—a Ford.

Maybe it's better that it looks a bit ramshackle. Hidden treasures are usually the best.

H&H is actually two companies:

...H&H Antique, a engine building business run by Max Herman Sr. and Max Herman Jr., and H&H Flatheads, a custom shop specializing in the Ford Flathead engine run by Max Sr.'s son Mike Herman.

The front lot might look a little worse for the wear...

...but every item has its place in the mental inventory kept by the H brothers and their dad.

And even if it's rusty, they just send it out for acid rust removal when they need it.

Although classic car customization is neither new nor unusual...

...Ford Flatheads are kind of a specialized thing.

Since it debuted in the Model 18 in 1932, the "flathead"-style eight cylinder engine has earned somewhat of a cult following.

The Ford V-8 was a staple of hot rod culture in the 1950s.

And there's a lot of nostalgia for it now, especially among the Boomers who have some money to spare in the early days of their retirement...

...and want to relive their glory days...

...or create some glory days for the first time in their lives.

H&H is a place where dreams come true, not only for the hot rodders and car cruisers...

...but for Mike Herman himself, who turned his trouble-making adolescence doing doughnuts in the neighborhood parking lots into a career, with the help of a business degree.

Like the outside, the inside of the H&H shop can be best described as "organized chaos"...

...with a heavy dose of history.

Projects are in various stages of completion...

...and many of the tools that would be needed...

...are within arm's reach.

The machinists of H&H do a lot of the work themselves...

...though some of it must be outsourced... to a local foundry.

They make the custom molds...

...but then send them out to be cast.

H&H has also been working on some V12 engines, which are strong enough to power a small plane in flight. Because of their complexity and cost, they're not used very often as road engines—and when they are, it's in a Ferrari, Lambourghini, Aston Martin, Jaguar, or Maserati. And if it is, it's probably in a racing car, like in a Formula One.

And when you hear an engine like that get started up, boy, listen to it roar.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Cruisin' Glendale
Photo Essay: The Rusty Ruin of Antique Machinery
Photo Essay: The Rite of Zorthian Ranch, By Invitation Only

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