Manufacturer’s Profile: Sir Michael’s Corporation

October 3rd, 2006

0605_st_sir_michaels_storefront_thumbThe year was 1977, and a local kid named Mike Burley had a cool little Datsun 320 that he used to cruise on the streets of Orange County.

0605_st_sir_michaels_storefront_s It’s easy to get lost in the vast industrial parks of Huntington Beach, but not if you’re looking for Sir Michael’s. The ’64 Routemaster double-decker bus was built for this past SEMA, and trust us when we tell you it’s fun to go cruising in.

0605_st_sir_michaels_entrance_sThe homemade London phone booth and medieval dragon roll pan stands are just a glimpse at the cool stuff that comes from the R&D shop at Sir Michael’s.

He painted and flamed the truck himself, and after he had received a few inquires about where it was painted, he decided to go into business for himself. Mike put three long days a week in at his 800-square foot shop and another three working for his dad, just so he could come up with the $250 rent for his shop. Not long after, Mike started punching louvers in hoods, tailgates fenders and anything else he could get his hands on. The Sir Michael’s Empire was born. Little did he know he would end up being regarded as one of the forefathers of mini-trucking and the trucks bearing his louvers would become some of the most famous from those early days.

Within a couple of years, Sir Michael’s outgrew the original digs in Stanton and over the years has outgrown three more buildings before relocating to the nearly 20,000-foot facility in Huntington Beach, California. As the times and trucks changed, Sir Michael’s has always remained one step ahead of the trends and two steps ahead of the competition. When the sport truck phenomenon began in the late ’80s, Mike was right there creating the best roll pans, tailgate skins, filler pieces, and other steel parts on the market.

When we contacted Mike about doing a profile on Sir Michael’s, it was like finding the local historian on the subject of trucks in SoCal! Mike had boxes and boxes of old photos, memorabilia from truck runs, and magazines from back in the day that even we have never come across. We spent the day sifting through photos of parking lot parties, cruise nights, car shows, truck runs, and shop shots, and even though we’ve known Mike for years-and are well aware of things like his obsession for all things British-we still felt like we really got to know him better. We learned that a few of his main employees have been with him for many years, a testament to a well-run company. The most important of which is Sir Michael’s wife “Lady Donna.” Donna has been by Mike’s side since the beginning, literally, from the parties in the early days to their first trip to SEMA some 20 years ago. You know what they say, behind every good man…

All in all, Sir Michael’s is a company that is synonymous with the roots of our hobby and continues after nearly 30 years to supply top quality product thats made right here in SoCal. For more information about any Sir Michael’s products, including skins, pans, Caddy taillight buckets, or louvered hoods and tailgate skins for just about any truck, Give ‘em a ring at 800.900.4944 or log onto www.sirmichaels.com (http://www NULL.sirmichaels NULL.com).

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The 100 or so feature and tech article plaques
on the wall are just the first clue as to how long
Sir Michael’s has been dedicated to our sport.

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This is just one row of Sir Michael’s inventory.

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License plate boxes fresh out of the state
of the art laser jet.

0605_st_sir_michaels_painted_roll_pans_s 0605_st_sir_michaels_tailgates_s 0605_st_sir_michaels_welded_roll_pans_s

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The first bend in a series that created
the Caddy taillight buckets.

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And there it is, folks, the original louver press.
Mike recently brought it out of hiding to give i
t a full restoration.

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We spent several hours in the conference
room with Mike checking out old photos,
old magazines, truck run stuff, you name it.
Mike just may have the best collection of
mini-truck memorabilia there is!
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A roll pan has its license box TIG-welded in.
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Back in the early days of Sir Michael’s, this
kid named Lance used to sweep around
the shop in exchange for getting louvers
punched all over his Datsun 520.
Twenty-five years later, Mike and the
world famous Lance Laverty reunited and
Lance is currently working as one of
Mike’s right hand men.

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Don’t be fooled. If you don’t see this logo
stamped in the license plate box, it’s not
a Sir Michael’s pan.

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On the right is a Colorado being used to R&D
a new hidden hitch. On the left is the little
Datsun 320 that started it all. That’s right!
Mike still has it after all these years and has
big plans for it.

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After nearly 30 years, Mike’s favorite place
to hang out is in the area of the shop devoted
to the original louver business. Here, Mike is
designing and punching a one-off tailgate
skin for Marcel Venable’s Nissan.

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Check out this old flyer somebody gave us
a while back. Mike didn’t even have this one.
The beer flowed at 2:00 but the wet T-shirt
contest wasn’t ’til 8:00? That must have been
a great contest!

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Back in the day, Mike punched louvers in
anything you brought him. Here he’s doing
a set of headlight eyebrows.

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The original Sir Michael’s in Stanton, California,
circa 1978. You’ll never believe who occupies
this building now. Me! It’s a very small world, indeed.

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Sir Michael’s Saves Lives! Mike teamed up
with Line-X to create special armor outfits
for military Hummers headed overseas.
It’s just one of the many “side projects”
happening here.

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Mike back in the day! Mooneyes was
a big customer back then.

0605_st_sir_michaels_datsun_truck_s
The 320 in its heyday. Do you think that
when Mike was taping off those flames
he knew it would evolve into a 20,000
square foot facility in HB?

0605_st_sir_michaels_display_s
Mike and Donna: manning the booth
together at an R.J. Canning ‘attraction’ in
the very early ’80s.

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