The story of Dean Jeffries was just released by Motorbooks. It is superbly written by Tom Cotter, forward by Bruce Meyer and photos by David Newhardt. This book sat on my table for a few days before I picked it up but once I did it stayed in my hands until I had finished it! I liked this book a lot.
I am sure many of you do not know who Dean Jeffries is and if you do, you are most likely wrong. I remember him as a great custom car and hot rod builder from the 50s and not much more. You know, one of those guys like George Barris, Gene Winfield or Darryl Starbird but maybe not as famous.
Jeffries is famous for his beautiful creation the Mantaray. It was on the cover of Hot Rod; featured in one of the beach movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and was a Grand National Roadster Show winner.
I bet what you didn’t know is that Jeffries played a role in the movie and actually drove the Mantaray in the movie. He was also a stunt man for Frankie. It was this car and this movie that changed Jeffries from being just a custom car builder to Hollywood celebrity and race car fanatic. If he hadn’t gotten hooked up with the movies there would not have been a Monkeemobile by Jeffries but there may have been a lot more radical customs like the Mantaray. We will never know.
Because he knew a lot of folks in the car world as well as Hollywood and at the race tracks parts of this book almost read like a gossip column of the rich and famous.
Here is Dean today with one of his most prized possessions, a GT 40 roadster. There were four built and this is the only one that remains restored today.
Most notably is the ongoing disagreement Jeffries has with George Barris. It seems Barris likes to take credit for some of Jeffries (and others) work. It was actually Dean Jeffries who built the Monkeemobile not Barris! You will need to read the book to find out why they still don’t get along. One of the most startling revelations in the book is not that Jeffries built two Monkeemobiles but that he built both of them from brand new Pontiac GTO convertibles in only two weeks! That’s it; two weeks for two cars! That is better than Chip Foose and his army of assistants on Overhaulin!
Arguably, Dean’s most famous car, the Monkeemobile. This car was built in 10 days!
To read more about this book and learn more about Jefferies, Click Here.