Celebrity car customizer and Los Angeles auto megadealer Beau Boeckmann put on a mask and breathed a sigh of relief, when he learned he could re-open his showrooms, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, normally one of the biggest selling weekends of the year.
“The last three days, we were selling as we would before the pandemic — which is a real wonderful thing,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Last weekend, we sold about 116 cars. The weekend before, we sold 41.”
Boeckmann (pronounced BOCK-mun) is president and COO of Galpin Motors, North Hills, Calif. The group sells 10 brands out of six dealerships. Its flagship is Galpin Ford, the nation’s biggest-selling Ford dealership. The flagship of the flagship, so to speak, is Galpin Auto Sports, or GAS for short.
Galpin Auto Sports has a nationwide reputation as a car customizer, creating race cars, hot rods and muscle cars for hardcore performance aficionados. In fact, Boeckmann is the star of a new Discovery Channel TV show, Car Kings.
So-called “resto-mods” are a specialty, which Boeckmann described as, “old school look, new school technology,” like a 1970s Ford Mustang with a bigger, more powerful, present-day engine and electronics.
The show premiered on March 30. Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsome had issued a stay-home order for the entire state, on March 19, to fight the spread of COVID-19. In most of the country, dealerships continued to offer parts and service. They were also allowed to sell cars online, but they were not allowed to sell new or used cars in person, in showrooms. Those restrictions are starting to relax in many states.
Boeckmann said he was afraid the pandemic shutdown would mean the show would flop, but as time has passed, he said the publicity has helped generate orders for the customizing business. “There are customers out there who still have disposable income,” he said.
After being forced to close their showrooms for seven weeks, car dealerships in Los Angeles County got permission to reopen to the public effective May 8 — subject to strict rules for social distancing, cleanliness, wearing masks and other restrictions.
“We’re starting to see some really good sales,” Boeckmann said. “Everybody here is so grateful to be back to work.”