In the town of DeSoto, Kansas, is a Model A repair garage that appears, from the street, as though the calendar has slipped back to 1918. Indeed, a quick peek inside would be enough to convince you of that, for the garage is wall-to-wall with automobiles from the 1930s and earlier.
But this is no ordinary car museum, since every one has been restored, preserved, and in some cases hand-made by Dean Weller, an 84-year-old gentleman who continues doing what he started when he retired 28 years ago. Since then he has been restoring or building a vehicle almost every year. Some 20 vehicles are in the ground floor showroom, more are in the basement, and a few are back in Weller's workshop. He even has his own paint booth.
Among the cars Dean designed and built are a Ford Speedster meant for racing, a Model A convertible with a boattail rear end made from the hood of an old Chevy, and a decorated Model A acknowledging it as "America's Sweetheart." Dean sketches each part as he disassembles, repairs, modifies and reassembles engines and other components. His sketches look like draftsmen's drawings, a skill that he no doubt acquired during his lengthy career as a home builder. Interestingly two of the three Cadillacs were purchased new by he and Dolores, his wife of 64 years.
The sign on the window reads "Grandpa's Garage & Body Shop." No phone numbers are visible because, as he says, "I'd rather work on the cars than be interrupted by visitors." Dean Weller is not, however, an unfriendly recluse. He's more than willing to accommodate enthusiast clubs that contact him about tours, but does not wish to schedule appointments for individual visitors. Which means that you and I shouldn't go knocking on the front door. In a way Grandpa's Garage & Body Shop seems like a smaller version of the LeMay collection in Tacoma, now being turned into a world-class museum.
The information for this blog came from the Grandpa's Old Ford Website, which is well worth a visit for it has all the facts plus four pages of photographs. There's even a photo of Dean, himself, and believe me, he looks at least ten years younger than his age. Of course, all us old guys say that!