March '18

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50 THE SHOP MARCH 2018 Wales I f there is one thing different about Gary Wales' fabrication shop in Woodland Hills, California, it's this: everything. If you dare to enter the premises with expectations of a typical car shop (or any- thing else), you will be setting yourself up for a serious case of shock. That's because, by the time you get to the garage, you will already have had to scrape your jaw off the floor multiple times. MORE THAN A SHOP The place is part fabrication shop, part museum, and 100-percent fascinating. Oh, and Wales—its proprietor, car designer, fab- ricator and curator—also lives there, because it's not just his shop, but his home as well. And, while it's certainly not the only home in California with a couple of Bent- leys parked inside the garage, it's not very likely that many other million-dollar homes nestled in this Woodland Hills neighbor- hood have a McCormick-Deering Farmall tractor parked right behind the gate. Or swords, lots of swords: some of them ancient and others fabricated right in the very house where they are displayed. There are shields, too, if you're feeling defensive. In fact, there are three complete suits of armor in the living room. They aren't authentic 16 th century knights' outfits, because Wales, who happens to have been knighted three times, he says, manufac- tured them himself. All three suits of armor stand near the largest stained glass window in the house. Surprisingly, the window and its medi- eval landscape were not made by Wales, but by another artist whom he commissioned to create the piece. The house is a one-bedroom home. Why? Because bedrooms are nowhere near as important as places for more stuff. Wales has lived alone since his wife Mari- lynn died three years ago. Well, not exactly. You see, she is still there—not just in spirit, but in her 1999 Bentley, as Wales keeps her ashes in the backseat. "It was her car, after all," he says. The car is kept in very good company, too. Wales' sixth La Bestioni, nicknamed Rusty One, is parked next to it and another 1999 Bentley is parked behind Rusty One which, as Wales loves to tell people, "is made from genuine rust (as is Rusty Two)." One of his earlier beasts was based off a 1919 Seagrave fire engine that he found in a field. When he saw the green copper fuel tank and water tank, "I just knew that I had to design it around them." T h i s p a r t i c u l a r Bestioni, brought back to life nearly a century after its birth, looks so much like a rocket that Wales had to build a fin on top to complete the look. The water tank, hand-hammered nearly a century ago, brings up the mag- nificent tail in what is once again a shiny, beautiful copper. GRADE-A COLLECTION To complete this yellow vehicle, he adorned it with dozens of old AAA placards. It's unlikely that he misses them, as he still 50 THE SHOP MARCH 2018 A TALE OF A By John McCabe Looking for the unexpected? Gary Wales' fabrication shop is full of surprises. Gary Wales' base in Woodland Hills, California is part fabrication shop, part museum, and 100-percent fascinating.

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