Grandpa's Old Ford Garage - The Automotive Art of Dean Weller -copyright 2007-2010 by Keith Stokes

Grandpa's Old Ford Garage 
The Automotive Art of Dean Weller

33015 W. 83rd Street 
DeSoto, Kansas 66018 
Not open to the puplic - drive by and look in the windows

copyright 2007-2010 by Keith Stokes

Antique Ford Signs

1928 Model T Gargae in DeSoto, Kansas 
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

projects. 

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.

Antique fords on display in DeSoto, Kansas 
The yellow 1929 boat tail sportster in front started as a Model A Ford. The front is still close to the original, but 
the long boat tail is the modified hood from a 1947 Chevy truck.

replica 1912 Mercer Raceabout 
This replica 1912 Mercer Raceabout is Dean's most recent work. It was built on the frame and drive train of a 
1930 Pontiac. Except for the lights, he made everything you see. He even fabricated the brass radiator housing 
based on photos of the original Mercer racers 1912 Mercer 

Dash and controls for the 1912 Mercer. Weller adapted the brass gauge housings from oxyacetylene welding 
tanks, and the brass in the steering wheel column was originally a stair rail. Only 20 original vehicles 
are in still existence and they bring over one million dollars at auction.

Dean Weller 
Dean Weller - automotive artist -  in 2007. He makes being in your 80s seem young.

Dean Weller's 1930 Speedster 
This 1930 Speedster is "Fast 4 Grandpa"

Studebaker Commander 8 
Studebaker Commander 8

Dean Weller's America's Sweetheart Model A 
America's Sweetheart - Henry Ford's Model A 

 
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

America's Sweetheart - Model A rumble seat 
Model A Ford

Model T Roadsters 
Three Model Ts. The one at right is a 1924 Model  Roadster. It sold new for $240.

 
1921 Model T "pie wagon."

Model T Ford pie wagon 
The rear of this Ford pie wagon is all the creation of Dean Weller

1930 Ford pickup 

1930 canopy top Ford pickup just starting restoration in 2007

Dean Weller sketches on drawing board 
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 
1932 Buick model 66S 4 passenger special coupe - straight 8. 1678 were produced.

1980 Freeway - high mileage vehicle 
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.

 

 
Dean Weller's Old Ford Garage in March 2010. There are more vehicles stored in the basement.

 

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 - 2010 

Dean Weller is still going strong at age 84

1930 canopy top Ford pickup - Dean Weller 
1930 canopy top Ford pickup that Dean was working on when the garage was first visited in 2007  

Updated list of Dean's completed projects. The 1929 Roadster Pickup 
completed in 2009 is stored at another location.

 
Schedule for winterizing the collection of antique automobiles

Dean Weller's Ford workshop 
Dean Weller's workshop and the start of his newest project - another Ford Sportster.

copyright 2007-2010 by Keith Stokes

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