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To some it may seem a bit strange that he remembers the date, but on April 17, 1964, Bert Boeckmann first laid eyes on the Ford Mustang. It was love—and lust—at first sight, plus that “ca-ching” cash register sound going off in his head.

“We had a white one with red interior over at the dealership in San Fernando,” recalls the 84-year-old CEO of Galpin Ford, now located in North Hills. “I thought, ‘I’ll do well with that.’ And we did exceedingly well. Over a period of time we became the #1 seller of Mustangs in the United States.”

The Mustang was new to car dealerships. Bert wasn’t. The Mustang celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Bert’s association with Galpin Ford goes back even farther, to 1953 when he landed a job there as a sales rep. 

After then-owner Frank Galpin detected rivals sniffing around his star salesman, he launched a preemptive strike by pro-moting Bert to assistant manager and then general manager, also giving him a piece of the proceeds. 

Bert was wildly successful, and by 1968 he bought out Galpin and became owner of the company. He credits his rapid rise to his willingness to expend more elbow grease than the competition.  

“I worked all but two days that year,” he explains. “I went in at 8:30 in the morning and went home at 8:00 at night. I took no time off. I just did it.”

Bert, who resides in the northwest Valley, ambles his way to his office on the second floor above the Galpin showroom. The well-respected executive is slower-moving these days—but still sharp. On the wall there is a memento from Arnold Schwarzenegger that says, “Thanks for the Heavy Lifting.” 

There are candy jars here and there, much like your grandparents might have had. Bert’s wife, Jane, is prominently displayed in a photo from 1969, driving a Mustang in a rally attempting to break the 24-hour land-speed record. 

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Written by Michael Ventre for Ventura Blvd Magazine.