Discovery Channel’s new show “Car Kings” allows viewers to look under the hood of storied customs and restoration shop, Galpin Auto Sports, a division of Los Angeles-based Galpin Motors that has been part of Southern California car culture since 1946. The series follows Galpin President and COO Beau Boeckmann, custom car builder Dave Shuten and customization specialist “Mad Mike” Martin as they resurrect cars almost lost to time.
Based in the world’s most car-centric city, Galpin Auto Sports has been at the forefront of customization since 1952, when it took a new Ford convertible and modified it with Mercury and Lincoln parts. The yellow drop-top debuted at the Motorama and graced the cover of MotorTrend magazine. Since then “Galpinized” vehicles have challenged automotive conventions and the limits of possibility. “Car Kings” tells these stories with a refreshingly insightful approach, standing apart as a program for true automotive enthusiasts and those who appreciate creativity and expert craftsmanship.
On the show, the Galpin team is led by Beau Boeckmann who grew up in the showroom of Galpin Motors and is the driving force behind Galpin Auto Sports. He’s a diehard enthusiast with a passion for rare, historical cars and original customs. Dave Shuten of Galpin Speed Shop, a division of Galpin Auto Sports, has a long history with Boeckmann and Galpin, having led major projects like the Pink Panther Limo, the Ed “Big Daddy” Roth Orbitron and the ’34 Ford 5-Window Coupe known as Iron Orchid. Galpin’s customization specialist “Mad Mike” Martin – most famous for his wild projects on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” – rounds out the “Car Kings” team.
Boeckmann, Shuten and Martin are stewards of the automotive world’s past and innovators of its present. With the goal of preserving these icons of motoring for future enthusiasts, they infuse the stories of their builds with insightful commentary, technical information and historical context. The attention to detail in Galpin builds is matched in the stories shared on “Car Kings.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and these cars weren’t either. Forget the staged drama and contrived personal plotlines of reality TV. “Car Kings” focuses on the cars and doesn’t waste a minute on anything else. Viewers follow a single build in each episode, but these projects were months in the making, carefully planned and executed with the goal of achieving artistic perfection.
Episode one follows the team as they breathe new life into an already rare, but historically significant, De Tomaso Pantera GT5 S. This white-on-white ’80s supercar looks far more European than its American heritage would suggest. Modified by Carol Shelby for another automotive great, Lee Iacocca, this particular Pantera is the missing link between the iconic Shelby Cobra and the Dodge Viper supercar.
As one of the first licensed Shelby dealers in the country, it seems only natural that Galpin would restore the Pantera. This rare automotive gem sold at Bonhams’ Greenwich Concours d’ Elegance auction in 2018 alongside other cars from Carol Shelby’s private collection. The then-unknown buyer paid a staggering $229,000 for a gem with a major flaw — it had no engine. And it was no ordinary engine. Missing was a custom twin-turbo V-8 designed by Shelby with the help of famed turbocharging expert Gale Banks. In this episode, the Galpin team tracks down the missing powerplant and gives it new life with the help of Banks. Later, the build gets a shakedown at Southern California’s legendary Willow Springs Raceway before being unveiled for exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Episode two, with an entirely different flavor of build, follows Dave Shuten as he strives for hot rodding’s biggest prize: the “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” award at the Grand National Roadster Show. The Galpin team takes on the task of building a one-of-a-kind, perfectly executed ’32 Ford Roadster Pickup in just five months. This rare roadster, one of about only 600 produced, is a project that remained unfinished for roughly two decades. Unlike the Pantera, however, this isn’t a restoration — it’s a full custom with jaw-dropping upgrades. No spoilers here. To find out how it did at the Grand National Roadster Show, you’ll have to watch the episode.
“Car Kings” has broad appeal – both the general public and the automotive obsessed will find much to enjoy. The personal and historical stories will be appreciated by all, while interesting asides on downforce and turbocharging will satisfy self-proclaimed car nerds. Special features on cars like the Rauh Welt Porsche 911 and detailed breakdown of builds will appeal to even the most discerning autophile. Modern car culture is increasingly focused on the latest and greatest, but “Car Kings” helps us look to the future with an appreciation for the past. Boeckmann, Shuten and “Mad Mike” trace the through-lines of automotive history with their exceptional builds, engaging and educating a younger, increasingly hard-to-reach audience in the process.
Episode three of “Car Kings,” which airs Monday, April 13, 2020 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, is Ford-themed with a 1972 Mach 1 resto-mod and 2019 GT SEMA showstopper. Check your local listings for more information about show times and dates. You can download the Discovery GO app to watch the first three episodes for free.
Episode four, airing Monday, April 20 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, chronicles a “unique” Bathtub Hot Rod. Built in 1969 from bathtubs and a toilet, it’s one of the most unusual cars of all time, and it’s headed to Japan for the Yokohama Hot Rod Show.
WORDS Noah Thanos | PHOTOS courtesy of Discovery