Quick stats: Beau Boeckmann, star of Discovery’s Driven and president of Galpin Auto Sports
Daily driver: 2019 Ford GT (Beau’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Los Angeles to Pebble Beach
Car he learned to drive in: 1985 Ford Mustang
First car bought: 2019 Ford GT
Beau Boeckmann grew up at his dad’s Galpin dealership, which meant he could drive a different car every day if he wanted, and he never had to buy a car like the rest of the world.
But the 2019 Ford GT changed all that. That’s when Boeckmann bought his first new car a year short of turning 50.
“That’s the first new car I ever got, which is quite a car to get. I had to do an application just like everybody else. And I was fortunate to be selected as one of the 1,350 people to be able to purchase a Ford GT and was then selected again to get their Gulf Heritage edition. That’s the car we opened the show with on,” says Boeckmann of his new show Driven on Discovery Channel and streaming on the MotorTrend app.
It’s a perfect 10 for Boeckmann, who sees it as the ultimate Ford that was ever built. “It is just spectacular in every way, from how it drives, to how it sounds to how it looks,” says Boeckmann. “I’ve never been in a car quite like it. It is just amazing. At every moment you’re driving the car, you’re loving driving.”
Talking to MotorTrend is a full-circle moment of sorts for Boeckmann because a Galpin car was on the cover of the magazine.
“That’s what launched it all for us,” he says. “MotorTrend and Galpin go back to 1953, our very first custom ever. The article was custom cars coming of age, and they did a whole feature because that car was the first time a new car was customized to show what future cars could look like and then sold as a new car at a dealership. As far as we can tell, we were the first dealer to do that type of work, and it was a really amazing custom job that was done as well. It was named one of the top 10 customs of the year by MotorTrend. It was at the Motorama in Pasadena in 1952, so it’s got all this really cool history. It’s fun to have that history to go back to.”
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
Lately, Boeckmann’s daily driver has been a Porsche Cayenne Turbo because of the Santa Clarita Porsche dealership that recently joined the Galpin stable. “I just went from a Jaguar I-Pace to the F-Pace SVR,” he says. “With Porsche, for many years I really didn’t understand the brand. Here in the United States and growing up at a Ford dealership, we’re used to a big growly V-8 that sits in front and pulls you along and makes a lot of noise, and good ol’ American muscle.”
He said Porsches looked the same every year, too. “What’s this six-cylinder engine and a turbo instead of a supercharger? Then a few years ago, you drive a Porsche and you go, ‘Oh, now I get it.’ The last 911 is probably the finest vehicle I’ve ever driven. They’re really perfection. They’re not about changing for change sake; they’re about perfecting, perfecting, perfecting. So, when you get into a 911, it’s decades and decades of perfection that have gone into that car.”
1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE
This Mercedes is the only other car Boeckmann has in his own name, given to him by his grandmother when she passed. It’s the first car he customized.
“My grandmother passed away when I was about 13 years old, and I was able to have it restored and customized for my 16th birthday. That was my present,” he says.
He rates this a perfect 10 because it’s like family, he says. “You love them for who they are. It doesn’t mean they’re perfect. I wouldn’t change a darn thing about it. I love the fact that it was my grandmother’s car, that I still remember her driving out from Arkansas every year and it was my favorite color, green on green, and when I restored it as a teenager, I did a black with leopard skin interior. It might sound a little tacky, but it came out beautiful,” he says. “To me that’s what makes it really special. It’s the emotional connection to it.”
That’s what Boeckmann loves about automobiles. ‘They’re one of the few inanimate objects that people fall in love with and have an emotional connection to,” he says. “That’s what cars bring out in people—the memories, the love, the emotional. Whether it’s driving or just memories that you have in it.”
Car he learned to drive in
When Boeckmann was learning to drive, his dad took a car off the used car lot: a 1985 Mustang. “The first time I was driving I had my brother, who was taking me around, and I took a right turn and I forgot you needed to slow down, so I might have freaked out my brother because I completely spun the car out,” he says, when they were driving from Galpin around Northridge.
Growing up in a car world, Boeckmann looked forward to driving. “We had all kinds of really cool crazy promotions when I was growing up. We had a lot of fun here at Galpin. When you come on the lot, we had crazy cars you wouldn’t see anywhere else. The whole custom van industry grew out of Galpin. The kids were doing surfer vans and then we started building surfer vans and someone had an idea, they wanted to go on a honeymoon cross-country, and we built what was then the first conversion van, and that grew into a whole movement. I used to play hide and seek in those vans. I grew up with this love for cars.”
He always knew he would go into the family business.
“It was just my destiny. My dad is not a car person. He doesn’t care about cars. When he took over as manager of Galpin Ford, Frank Galpin had an old Model T and it was my dad’s job to watch out for that car, and he was always worried someone would steal a part off of it. The first thing he did as a manager was get rid of it. He didn’t want that distraction anymore,” he says. “My dad’s a people person. He loves people. He enjoys cars, but he’s not a collector. He loves talking to people. He says, ‘Everyone is different, every has a fascinating story and people are interesting.’ I’ve admired that about my dad, and I try to take after him in that way, too, because I love people. Everybody’s got an interesting story, and everybody is a different unique human. We’re all special and everyone’s unique. So growing up, I was on the people side of business and I got into cars as well. It just all merged.”
The dealership wasn’t handed to Boeckmann, who worked his way up through every department, including at various Galpin dealerships such as Saturn. “We sold the very first Saturn in the world. I was trying to sell the last one. It didn’t work out that way,” he says.
A lot of customers assumed Boeckmann’s last name is Galpin, but his dad started as a salesperson in 1953 and worked his way up, and by 1968 bought the last stock from Frank Galpin. “My dad really appreciated the opportunity Mr. Galpin gave him. He also worked very hard to establish that name as a brand, and on top of that our last name is really hard to spell and he would say, ‘How would you look that up in the phone book?’ That’s the reason we kept the Galpin name, and it’s a great name. I think it’s way better than Boeckmann,” he says, laughing.
Favorite road trip
Boeckmann says Galpin was the first Shelby dealer in California. “Carroll Shelby dropped off the first batch of GT350s at Galpin Ford in San Fernando in 1965, and we were able to get one of the original 1965 Shelby GT350s from Galpin. A number of years ago, I took a road trip up to Pebble Beach and drove that car, and it’s unrestored. It was in a garage for over 40 years,” he says.
He got it mechanically working but left all the patina on it. “So it just looks like this old Mustang, which I love, but it drives so beautifully. That was one of my favorite road trips we ever did. Driving up beautiful PCH in California on a summer’s day in a ’65 Shelby, for a car guy, there’s very few things that are better than that,” Boeckmann says.
It was a special occasion that called for this historical drive for the old 1965 Shelby to Pebble Beach. “I drove from Galpin onto The Quail, which is where it was going to be displayed for the weekend because it was 2015, so it was the 50th anniversary and then it had a special display at Laguna Seca. It was this really amazing trip and weekend for that car.”
Discovery’s Driven: Mondays at 10 p.m.
More than a decade after MTV’s Pimp my Ride, Boeckmann is back on TV with Driven. It premiered March 30 and allows him to pursue his passion for weird and historically significant cars.
“I always had a feeling I was going to get back into TV again. It was a lot of fun to do,” he says. “I’ve always been on treasure hunts, looking for buried treasure in the automotive world and able to find many vehicles over the years that people thought were long gone. I’ve been putting these cars together with the thought of someday getting back on TV.”
Boeckmann didn’t want to do a typical car build show. “I don’t believe in phony fights, phony deadlines. We wanted to create something that was real, and something that was really important to me was being true to ourselves and true to history and building cars in the proper right way and doing things that an automotive enthusiast would absolutely appreciate and get behind. Doing the right thing,” he says.
He also thinks it’s important to have a show anyone can enjoy with their family, whether they’re into cars or not.
“We get into the history behind cars, and it’s not just the history of the car, but it’s the people that are behind the car. A lot of these brands have human beings behind it, and they have amazing stories. Whether it was a custom car built by George Barris or Big Daddy Roth, or aftermarket the way that Carroll Shelby did, or how Henry Ford started,” he says. “They’re great fascinating stories, so we wanted to tell those stories through a build, building a significant and historically important car and then telling the stories through the build of that car.”
Boeckmann also thinks people who work with their hands should be highlighted more. “We don’t really appreciate the craftsmanship and people working with their hands the way we used to. And it’s so important, and we need to appreciate people that work with their hands again,” he says. “Working with your hands is noble work because even if you work with your hands, you still have to use your mind.”
He wants to draw attention to art as an important part of automotive culture. “A lot of the cars we work on are really kinetic sculptures,” he says. “They’re really a form of art that you drive. I like to shed a little light on that and really show appreciation for people that haven’t been appreciated, to sing the unsung. There’s a lot of people in automotive history that did a lot that have been forgotten, and we want to remind people of who these important people were in life. Car culture has driven a lot of culture in America.”
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