1918 Model T Garage where Dean Weller turns old automobile parts and sheet metal into works of art.
While touring DeSoto, Kansas, three years ago, I stumbled across an interesting old
building with some wonderful old Ford signs. "Grandpa's Garage & Body Shop" was
painted on the window.
I stopped at the garage to photograph the building, then peeked in the windows and
discovered that the garage was filled with rows of beautiful old cars.
While peering through the windows and trying to take some photos through the glass,
a nice lady came up to me and invited me to go into the garage with her. She is Delores
Weller, and she introduced me to the man responsible for this surprising collection,
her husband of 64 years, Dean Weller.
They started showing me the beautiful antique cars crowded into the 1918 Model A Ford
garage, and I was stunned to learn that Dean hadn't just restored the cars. In large
part he created them.
Yes, a few of the vehicles have "just" been lovingly preserved by Dean Weller, but others
have been significantly modified, and some were nearly made from scratch. Two of
the three old Cadillacs were purchased new by the Wellers.
Dean retired 31 years ago and he has been creating nearly a vehicle a year, including
some of the most beautiful cars that I have ever seen. Though he creating these vehicles
just for himself, Dean Weller is truly a Kansas Grassroots Artist.
He briefly showed be around the ground floor where I saw nearly 20 vehicles (there are
more in the basement), plus his crowded work area in the back where he is currently
working on the body for his next project He has even built his own paint booth.
The "drawing board" next to Dean's current project shows some of his drawings and
research. He has books containing the sketches, photos and designs for his previous
Dean meticulously sketches each part as he disassembles, repairs, modifies and
reassembles the engines and other components. His sketches look like draftsmen's
drawings. A skill that he probably acquired during his career as a home building.
You will notice that no phone number is listed here for Dean Weller's Garage (studio).
He loves to work on the vehicles more than being interrupted by visitors. He does try
to accommodate automobile enthusiast clubs that contact him about tours, but does
not wish to schedule appointments for more visitors.
So drive by to look at Dean Weller's lovely old Ford garage, and look in the front
windows at this automotive art. Maybe you will get lucky and Dean or Delores will
invite you in.
Dash and controls for the 1912 Mercer. Weller adapted the brass gauge housings from oxyacetylene welding
5 million Model As were built in 4 years - 1928 - 1931. This special vehicle is representative for all Model
A Fords as Dean Weller's tribute to the Model A and Henry Ford
Model A Ford
Three Model Ts. The one at right is a 1924 Model Roadster. It sold new for $240.
1921 Model T "pie wagon."
The rear of this Ford pie wagon is all the creation of Dean Weller
1930 canopy top Ford pickup just starting restoration in 2007
Dean Weller's automobile drafting board
Log of vehicles which Dean Weller has completed,
jotted on the wall of his paint booth.
Newspaper articles about Dean Weller's automotive work.
1932 Buick model 66S 4 passenger special coupe - straight 8. 1678 were produced.
1980 Freeway. Not a Weller creation. This street legal car went 60 miles per hour got 100 miles per gallon.
Manufactured in Minnesota by High Mileage Vehicles Corp, less than 1000 Freeways and Freeway IIs
were built between 1979-1982. This Freeway originally had a Kohler 11 horsepower, 1 cylinder engine,
that has been replace with a more powerful 2 cylinder Honda motorcycle engine.
3/4 scale model replica with 3 horsepower engine.
In the past year, Dean Weller's Grandpa's Old Ford Garage has become the most visited
page on Kansastravel.org, and on March 2, I returned to DeSoto, Kansas to catch up with
Dean and learn what new projects he has completed. Dean is modest about his
accomplishments. He is not seeking celebrity, and although he is warm and courteous with
visitors, he finds visitors a distraction that take him away from his auto restoration hobby.
Dean likes to start a project at the beginning of each year and usually finishes before the hot
weather of summer. He had a bit later start on the Ford Sportster he is restoring this year and
apologized that it will probably take well into summer to complete this year's project.
I feel blessed to have met Dean Weller and have this opportunity to preserve a record
of his amazing automotive art. I plan to return and photograph the competed
Ford Sportster latter in the year.
Dean Weller is still going strong at age 84
Updated list of Dean's completed projects. The 1929 Roadster Pickup
copyright 2007-2010 by Keith Stokes