The Outlier in the Mojave
An eighty-year-old mechanic with a fleet of custom dune buggies is Hollywood’s ticket to off-road perfection.
Photos by Joshua Spencer
Willie Kalajian’s sun-faded house, on the western edge of California’s Mojave Desert, was built from railroad ties in the 1930s and is drooping with age. The place is surrounded by old Volkswagens, built or half-built, their rusted parts strewn about. Pastel metal and bulbous headlights are especially stunning here, amid the sandy terrain of Newberry Springs, two hours northwest of Los Angeles.
How Kalajian, an eighty-year-old off-road racing enthusiast, went off the grid in this dusty, nowhere place, and ultimately made his way into Hollywood, is a story that starts in late 1960s L.A.