dean jeffries

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 some famous T.V. cars, he created probably the three best, the “Batmobile,” “Drag-u-la” and “The Munster’s Koach.” Secondly there are allegations that George Barris was 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, Jeffries claims that after George Barris bought the MonkeeMobile he went to the toy car and model manufactures and hustled them into taking Dean Jeffries name off the boxes and putting George Barris on them instead. The facts inside the boxes were also changed saying that Barris built the car. I personally saw George Barris autographing posters of the restored “Monkeemobile” at a car show, 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 still the cause of some heat between the two. Pun Intended :). Jeffries was never an employee at Barris Kustom’s, but he did rent space from Barris and was Barris Kustom’s “House Painter” at the time. 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 cars were destroyed in the fire. Maybe Barris was still hot that Jeffries didn’t save a Barris car instead of his girlfriends car.

The book also goes on to talk about many more of his movie cars and modified vehicles for celebrities James Dean, Steve McQueen, Elvis, etc. I highly recommend this Tom Kotter book for any fan of custom cars or Dean Jeffries.

Sadly Dean Jeffries past in May 2013, RIP Dean you designed some beautiful rolling monuments to your legacy.