Legendary Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries dies

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The Monkeemobile

The Monkeemobile

The man who created the “Monkeemobile,” the Green Hornet’s “Black Beauty” and James Bond’s “Moonbuggy” from Diamonds Are Forever has passed away.

Legendary Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries died in his sleep on May 5 at the age of 80.

Born on February 25, 1933, Jeffries first became interested in hot rodding as a young boy, learning from his mechanic father.

DeanJeffriesHe learned the art of pinstriping while serving in the U.S. Army and refined his talents alongside legendary pinstriper Kenny “Von Dutch‚” Howard. While serving as in-house pinstriper for George Barris, Jeffries learned how to shape metal and refined his fabrication skills.

Jeffries opened his first customization shop in Lynwood, CA in the early 1960s and quickly achieved success and attention with his “Mantaray” one-seater, which combined a Maserati Grand Prix chassis with a Cobra engine. The shop began drawing business from Hollywood clientele. Over the years, Hollywood car guys, such as Steve McQueen, James Garner, Jay Leno, and others, would visit his shop.

In addition to the Hollywood cars mentioned above, Jeffries also striped James Dean’s infamous Porche 550 Spyder with its nickname, “Little Bastard,” and he built the 1932 Ford featured on the Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe album. Jeffries was involved with an impressive list of motion pictures – The Blue Brothers, Romancing the Stone, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and many more – not only from a vehicle construction standpoint, but also as a stunt driver and stunt producer.

"Mantaray" one-seater in progress.

“Mantaray” one-seater in progress.

 

According to his website, DeanJeffries.com, Jeffries is survived by his son, Kevin Dean Jeffries, and sister Evonne. A private family burial will be held, and a Celebration Of Life with Jeffries’ friends is on the drawing board for late May.  Details will be posted on the website.

 

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