The first thing you notice about Beau Boeckmann is his smile. It never leaves his face. Why not? He has plenty to smile about. As a kid, his “toy box” was Los Angeles’s Galpin Ford where his father not only established the first Shelby Mustang dealership in California, but also forged his reputation for building and selling an assortment of wild-and-crazy customized vehicles, a reputation that stretches back to the early 1950s.
The first thing you notice about Beau Boeckmann is his smile. It never leaves his face.
Why not? He has plenty to smile about. As a kid, his “toy box” was Los Angeles’s Galpin Ford where his father not only established the first Shelby Mustang dealership in California, but also forged his reputation for building and selling an assortment of wild-and-crazy customized vehicles, a reputation that stretches back to the early 1950s. And there’s a word for those trick cars: “Galpinized,” according to Boeckmann.
Boeckmann — vice president of marketing and promotion for Galpin Ford — carries on that family tradition as president of Galpin Auto Sports, a full-service shop and retail store for customizing all makes and models. The locale also happens to be the new home of MTV’s Pimp My Ride show and Boeckmann serves as head designer and consulting producer of the show.
“I have loved cars my entire life. I love custom cars and I love unusual cars. When I was growing up in the ’70s, we had a lot of these cool custom cars. The whole vanconversion business came out of Galpin. Then the customized truck and 4x4 phase started here. So, to this day, I don’t understand what a “stock” car means or why someone would own one.”
Sitting right here for Celebrity Car to view, Boeckmann’s first car is an example of that philosophy, although, at first glance, it appears to be a nicely preserved 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE fourdoor sedan. That is, until you open the door and see the leopard-patterned upholstery.
“My grandmother willed this car to me and it sat in back of Galpin for years until I was 16 and we restored it. I wanted it black with a leopard-skin interior. I saw something in a magazine like that and thought it would be cool.”
Boeckmann drove the Mercedes until, after a few near misses in traffic, he decided it was safer in his collection.
“That’s when I started driving Mustangs. And I still love Mustangs.”
That includes, of course, Shelby Mustangs.
‘The first time I met Carroll Shelby was very neat. He told me, ‘I’ll always remember your dad as one of the first guys to believe in me.’”
Boeckmann has three Shelby Mustangs, including a rare 1968 GT 500KR.
Classic also describes the row of Jaguars along one wall of Boeckmann’s showroom. The most special is a gray XK140 that’s actually not for sale, and for good reason.
“It was customized by Von Dutch,” the man who turned pinstriping into an artform in the 1960s.
“I grew up around customized cars and now I customize cars for a living, so in my collection I try to pay tribute to the great customizers: the legends like Von Dutch, George Barris, and Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth.”
Although it actually lacks Von Dutch’s trademark pinstriping, the Jaguar exhibits the handiwork of the eccentric craftsman, with a modified engine beneath the louvered hood. It also has Von Dutch’s named engraved on it. Boeckmann bought the car six years ago, before the Von Dutch logo became a trendy clothing label.
“That’s what’s so great about it,” he said with a wider-than-usual grin. “People criticized the idea of Von Dutch in a Jaguar, but I think it’s neat. And there’s only one of these.”
Another untouchable in his collection is “Rotar,” which was built by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. The metal-flake-painted flying-saucerstyle “car” actually flew a few feet above the ground. The vehicle carries Big Daddy’s “Roth Approved” sign of authenticity.
Surprisingly, one of the wildestlooking cars, at least in terms of its psychedelic flamingo pink color scheme, is actually a completely stock 1930 dual-cowl phaeton model Packard. Boeckmann fell in love with the car, officially orchid in color, as it rolled up the ramp at a car auction. The crowd gasped at the color, but he bought it as a surprise birthday present for his mother. Boeckmann researched the color scheme and verified it as original. In any case, his mother loves it.
A peek behind the walls of the Pimp My Ride set at Galpin Auto Sports revealed a couple of cars designed by Boeckmann that Roth or Von Dutch would have appreciated.
Boeckmann turned a Mazda5 into a rolling tattoo parlor. Aside from having all the tattoo tools, there are pierced leather seats, spikes on the grille and a tattoo paint scheme. No wonder the producers of Pimp My Ride were ready to add Boeckmann and his crew to their show.
“I knew these (MTV) guys before we did the show, and they are outstanding, incredibly talented people.”
Unbelievable, perhaps, is that Boeckmann is currently without his own custom ride, meaning one that he has personally personalized. Being a dad with a growing family of four kids, his ride is a Lincoln Navigator. And, although he has “Galpinized” his past family vehicles, being the true son of a car dealer, he has sold them to eager customers.
“I’ve got an ’07 Navigator on order. It will be totally Galpinized,” he said with a big smile.