Hatteberg's People - Dean Weller

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July 11, 2010

On Hatteberg's People, it became an internet sensation - Grandpa's Old Ford Garage in Desoto, Kansas in Johnson County. While the garage is interesting, the man behind it is incredible. Dean Weller, was a homebuilder until he retired. Then, he turned to cars - early Fords are his favorite. Today he's built more cars than he can keep track of....and through the internet folks just can't seem to get enough of Dean Weller and Grandpa's Old Ford Garage.

"This building was built in 1918 for Model T's," Weller said

And today, in the small community of Desoto, Kansas, Grandpa's Old Ford Garage stands as a car lover's dream.

"I've always liked cars.” Weller said. “When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to get my first car."

Cars of yesterday are Dean Weller's dreams of tomorrow. Model 'A's', old racing cars, and other unique creations all restored or built over three decades by Dean.

"And I've done 27 cars in the last 32 years," Weller said.

"You can get something like this and start working on it, well you can whistle while you work. You don't get all those lines in your forehead, you don't worry about stuff. You'll live a long time if you just take my advice," Weller said.

He's right. Dean will soon be 85.

"It's still a little cold, but it's still got the 'get-a-way'," Weller said.

"I had ten books that showed me this famous 'Mercer' Race-a-bout, and just about any angle I needed to calculate my measurements. It's quite a challenge. Everything about it was a challenge," Weller said.

He uses sketches to build cars like this boat-tail Ford Sportster. But they aren't just rough sketches; they are detailed, like engineering drawings.

"The more you detail a car when you take it apart, the easier it is going to be to put it back together," Weller said.

And when is creative juices flow, cars like this Model A, get a whole new look with wrought iron.

"I didn't know if I could do it or not, but every time I would get one panel done I would get more excited. So I finally decided regardless of what it looked like, I was going to do it. I've had more amusement on this and naturally every young girl who sees it says...'Can I use that in my wedding?" Weller said.

On his wall, in pencil, are the dates he started building a car and when he finished. Building them is his life.

"But my real thrill is in here 'creating',” Weller said. “Bringing my ideas into reality, that is my biggest thrill."

And downstairs in the old Ford Garage, more cars, more parts and more history.

"This old truck is an honest survivor. It's just the way it came out of the farm, and I love every minute of it," Weller said.

He does! And a question he often gets....are they for sale?

"Someday maybe. But for me, you don't sell your children. As long as I have room for them, I really want to keep them. I've got my cars that is my achievement, my life for 32 years," Weller said.

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