Galpin Auto Sports: You Dream It, They Build It
On our way to the museum, we were drawn towards Galpin Auto Sports and a garage full of customized cars. While many enthusiasts customize their own vehicles, it is almost unheard of for a car dealership to offer custom cars. Galpin Auto Sports, however, is not like a normal car dealership. They specialize in creating cars from the dreams of their customers. Their motto is, “If you can dream it, we can build it.” GAS is a total in-house custom builder, creating anything from classic hot rod shapes to TV and film vehicles.
If you are unaware of the history of Frank Galpin and Galpin Ford, let us fill you in a bit. Since 1953, when Frank Galpin designed the 1952 Ford convertible “future custom,” Galpin has produced vehicles that have helped further custom car culture. Carrying the torch of Galpin and influenced by the Kustom Kulture hot rodding movement that arose in the 50’s and 60’s, Bert Boeckmann began creating wild custom surfer vans at customer request in the late 60’s and 70’s. Demand for custom paint jobs, interiors, wheels and other features grew and Galpin became a center for high-quality work. In 2006, Bert’s son Beau Boeckman launched Galpin Auto Sports, making the customizing company its own branch, albeit very close by the other Galpin dealerships. GAS still does custom paint jobs and interiors, but has far surpassed the capabilities of earlier efforts. In true hot rod form, GAS is able to fabricate customer requested pieces from scratch. Creating true custom body work like that of Ed Roth’s creations makes GAS a real niche operation, both a dealership and a custom shop that is able to fulfill any dream build. In addition to custom fabrication, interiors and paint jobs, GAS is also versed in performance upgrades from suspension tuning to motor builds and supercharger installations.
In 2013, GAS put their entire customizing prowess on display for one of the world’s most well-known cars shows, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car they brought, the Galpin Ford GTR1, is a coach-built supercar based upon the Ford GT. The futuristic-styled all-aluminum body was handcrafted and is five inches wider than the standard car. However, the most striking facet of the car is the power plant. While the displacement is the same, GAS twin turbocharged the motor, pushing enough boost pressure through the 5.4-liter V-8 to make over 1,000 horsepower. The car boasts many other custom features from jeweled headlights and a machined aluminum instrument cluster to Formula One-tech carbon brake rotors. Breaking convention to create such a wildly impressive car surely would have made Frank Galpin proud.
After seeing the impressive work being done by GAS in the garages, we moved onto the museum so we could see the GTR1 and the rest of Galpin’s collection. A mix of old and new, the museum houses many pieces important to hot rodding and Kustom Kulture. One notable item, an original louver press, belonged to Kenny Howard, aka Von Dutch. Howard helped bring in a new era of pin striping and the decorated press is a prime example of his work. The museum also houses the largest collection of Ed Roth’s creations in the world. Possibly the most well-known name in Kustom Kulture, Roth’s Pin striping examples and classic Rat Fink characters reside amongst his wild customs like Orbitron, Rotar, Mysterion and Tweedy Pie.
The GAS collection had another car we were looking forward to seeing, a particular 1965 Shelby GT350 Mustang. As we strolled up to the Shelby, the original paint and faded blue racing stripes were a dead giveaway. Some years ago, team principal Jeff Francis was offered this very example by a fellow Mustang enthusiast by the name of Matt Barcellos. The Shelby had spent a good portion of its life in a cluttered garage in our hometown of Fresno and Matt had been asked by the original owner to sell the car. Francis’ mind quickly jumped to the realization that he could have purchased the car and easily doubled his money (which is exactly what happened at Barret-Jackson recently) or at the very least, he would have had the honor of preserving an important part of Shelby history. However, the story has come full-circle with a happy ending. The car now rests in the care of Galpin’s museum, the very same dealer who originally sold the car back in 1965. Talk about the one that got away!
Alongside the historic cars, custom show rods and the large collection of micro cars, rest truly unique creations like The Pink Panthermobile and the Sythe Custom. The museum really is an embodiment of hot rod culture and the evolutions of it. No matter what sort of cars you like, there is something for everyone in the museum. With such dedication to preserving and furthering custom car culture, Galpin is an excellent destination for anyone who loves cars and wants to know more about the culture, how it has impacted GAS and how GAS has impacted it. The personable and very knowledgeable curator of the museum, Chuck Allison, loves to take guests on tours of the facility and can answer just about any question you throw at him. We would like to thank Chuck, as well as Brian Hulz for taking their time to show us around and talk to us about the history of the cars.
Beginning with personal passion for creating works of art and real performers, the team at Galpin Auto Sports has the background and know-how to help create cars for enthusiasts that meet and even exceed expectations. With decades of experience and homage paid to the great builders before them, Galpin continues to help bring the dreams of their clients to life. As they say, “No job is too big, or too small, for the experts at GAS.” If you need any more convincing than that, just take a stroll around the museum and see what they’ve created.