1918 Model T Garage where Dean Weller turns old automobile parts and sheet metal into works of art.
While touring DeSoto, Kansas, a few 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 was Delores Weller, and she introduced me to the man responsible for this surprising collection, her husband of (then) 61 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 many 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.
Dean Weller tries to accommodate automobile enthusiast clubs that contact him about tours.
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.
2014 update: Dean says he has run out of floor space and will not be starting any new projects. He completed 27 cars in 32 years.
2016 updates: Mr. and Mrs. Dean Weller celebrated their 70th Wedding anniversary on Sunday, September 20, 2016. Dean Weller also celebrated his 90th Birthday with a party at Miller Park in DeSoto where his friends brought their classic cars.
2019 updates: We regret to report that Delores Weller passed away March 13, 2019 at the age of 89. The sign on the window says "For Sale Antique Cars - open Tuesday morning or call for appointment (913) 585-3326."
copyright 2007-2019 by Keith Stokes