Gary Wales started his career as a New York stockbroker in the 1960s. Single and dating, Gary was always trying to impress. One night while driving a blind date to dinner, he crashed and confessed that he didn't know much about cars. The very next day his date introduced him to a friend that had an Allard L-Type for sale. He bought the car on the spot and married the girl soon after. Today, the car is long gone but Gary's wife has watched his passion for cars grow from zero to sixty over the years.
"I moved to California so I could drive twelve months out of the year" -Gary Wales
Gary is fueled by creation. He is a collector of medieval artwork in the form of books, weapons, and suits of armor. He loves history and will happily pour you a glass of fine scotch and tell you stories until the sun goes down. But Gary wants to leave a legacy behind and "The Beasts" are only the beginning. Each one started out as a hundred-year-old Seagrave fire truck. His biggest concern is that there aren't anymore donors left to build another "Beast". The yellow creation is the 4th in his line of Beasts and the most detailed so far.
The Ride: Custom Built - La Beastioni
With each Beast, Gary tries to outdo himself. So it's usual for him to be combing through junkyards on the weekends. That's where Gary found a derelict Seagrave firetruck. It was beyond repair and couldn't be used as a frame donor, but the bronze water and oil tanks were intact. He bought the car, removed the tanks and then sold the truck back to the junkyard before leaving. By the time he got back to his house he already knew how he wanted to integrate the two bronze elements. They were to be the centerpiece and the end cap to his most recent masterpiece.
"No matter who gets to own it, 200 years from now it's not going to be their car, it's going to be the car that Wales built."
Gary admits that he has a lot of crazy ideas, so to help them come to life he partners with Andreas Aranda. Andreas has been his sidekick, best friend and mechanic for the past 15 years. Andreas is never really surprised when Gary confides his most recent concept. In fact, Andreas usually just starts working away on the plans to get the project complete. Gary wanted this Beast to resemble a rocket ship. He used the oil tank in the center, right behind the cockpit and placed the end-cap of the water tank at the back of the rocket. As Gary describes it, "When driving through the canyons, the sunlight hits the end-cap just right and it looks like an afterburner to the person behind us".
The Road: Mulholland Hwy
Mulholland Hwy is a 21-mile, two lane highway that weaves through the Santa Monica mountains in Southern California. From Hollywood heading west the road is split in two by the 405 freeway. The real fun begins on the other side as you reach Topanga Canyon Blvd. That's were Gary likes to kick off his test drives for each one of his creations. According to Gary, "If it makes it through one of my drives on Mulholland, it can make it anywhere". Driving a Beast isn't like driving a modern car, or even a classic car for that matter. "You have to operate the Beast," he says, "there is a lot going on". He likes to detour from the main road and head up into the different canyon roads that sprout out from Mulholland. Although he always ends up at The Rock Store to grab a cup of coffee, a bite to eat and to talk with the locals. For Gary, "It's a place to see and be seen, I love to see the reactions to my latest creation".
"You feel like you're 1,000 miles away from anywhere when driving through the mountains and canyons of Mulholland"
The Rock Store is an extremely famous roadhouse frequented by auto enthusiasts and bikers. The place opened in 1961 as a small grocery store but has become the go-to place for bikers out for a ride on Mulholland Hwy. "We started rallying through Mulholland in the 1980s on New Year's Day," says Gary. He was never interested in football or parades but since that fateful day that his wife got him into cars, Gary has always enjoyed the open road. He says, "Mulholland is like driving through the Tuscan country side". If you've never seen a California sunset, witnessing one while following The Beast of Mulholland through the canyons is a spectacular sight.