Dean Jeffries 50 Fabulous Years in
Hot Rods, Racing & Film.
Nice book about custom car builder Dean Jeffries, best known for building the Monkeemobile. Dean Jeffries also created “Black Beauty” for the Green Hornet T.V. show and built one of the most beautiful show cars ever made “The Mantaray.” Jeffries was also a pinstriping pioneer, he learned under the pinstriping legend Von Dutch. As a kid I loved the “Monkeemobile,” in fact it was the only reason I tuned into the show, I would sit through entire episodes just hoping the car would show up. Unfortunately for me, not every episode featured the car.
Many people mistake George Barris as the creator of the Monkeemobile, partly because george is famous for building T.V. cars, he created what are probably the three best known T.V. cars, the “Batmobile,” “Drag-u-la” and “The Munster’s Koach.” Secondly there are allegations that George Barris is deliberately trying to confuse the public into believing he built the “Monkeemobile.”
George Barris didn’t build
the “Monkeemobile,” he bought one of Dean Jeffries “Monkeemobile’s” and then his team restored it.
In the book, Dean Jeffries claims that after George Barris bought the car he went to the people who make toys and models and hustled them into taking Dean Jeffries name off the boxes and putting his name on them instead. The facts inside the boxes were also changed saying that Barris built the car. I recently saw George Barris autographing posters of the restored “Monkeemobile,” of course there was no mention of Dean Jeffries anywhere or his name on the posters, it’s wrong! George thanks for restoring the Monkeemobile it would have been a shame for this car to rust away somewhere, but you shouldn’t be signing your name to a car you never built.
The book also talks about the Barris Kustom’s fire, maybe this is still the cause of some heat between the two. Jeffries was never an employee at Barris Kustom’s, but he did rent space from Barris and was Barris Kustom’s “House Painter.” One night after work, Jeffrie’s was eating dinner across the street from Barris Kustom’s, when someone noticed the shop was on fire. Jeffrie’s put his jacket over his head and ran into the burning building saving his girlfriend Carol Lewis’ 1956 Chevrolet from the flames.
The firefighters stopped the fire just short of the Ala Kart, 14 other cars were destroyed in the fire. Maybe Barris is still hot that Jeffries didn’t save a Barris car instead.
The book also goes on to talk about many more of his movie cars and modified vehicles for James Dean, Steve McQueen, Elvis, etc. I highly recommend this Tom Kotter book for any fan of custom cars or Dean Jeffries.