By G William Krause, author “HOLLYWOOD TV AND MOVIE CARS”
Today, we learned the sad news of the sudden passing of Davy Jones. He is best known as the teen hearththrob and front man of the television-manufactured, Beatles knock-off The Monkees. While Davy was never known for being a car guy, his television show gave birth to one of the most iconic TV cars ever – The Monkeemobile.
Despite being linked to the television program, the car was actually quite separate. The entire concept of the Monkeemobile came from the head of Model Productions Corporation – or MPC to all you 1960s-era modelers. They were looking for an idea for a custom car that they could make a model of and capitalize on the popularity of the NBC show. At the time MPC was working with Dean Jeffries who was one of the hottest young customizers in Hollywood. As luck would have it, Jeffries was also under contract with Universal Studios which was producing the show.
As the players came together, MPC contacted Jim Wangers, who was handling Pontiac PR at the time. Wangers quickly saw the opportunity and pursauded Pontiac brass to donate two 1966 red GTO convertibles and allow Jeffries to work his magic. Both cars were equipped with the tri-carb 389-ci V-8, 4-speed and the 3:55 “Safe-T-Track” rear ends.
Of course, the project was rushed and all the players wanted to call the shots. MPC wanted a radical hot rod to sell models while Pontiac wanted something tamer that would sell GTOs. Dean Jeffries had his own vision and forged ahead. In one month, he delivered a highly modified car that screamed 1960s Hollywood custom. You could recognize the Pontiac roots, but it didn’t really look like a GTO. The genius of Jeffries work is the simplicity of the design.
No Jeffries custom uses chrome bumpers. The original grille assembly and entrie tail section were removed and both ends of the car were elongated with basic sheet metal formed to match the exisiting panels. The ubiquious Pontiac split grille was exagerated and severely raked with an almost shark-like appearance. The hood was cut and dished with a large hole in the center to give way for the chrome-plated Art Chrisman 6-71 supercharger.
The factory windshield was cut off and tilted up. A chrome piece went down the center to give the illussion of a tall and split winshield. Jeffries also lengthened the aft portion of the front wheel wells to provie room for functional chrome exhaust trumpets. Ther was a bi-pass rigged for a quieter exhaust the exited the rear.
At the rear were exaggerated tail lights, a quick-fill gas cap plus the drasteresque parachute. Jeffries also removed the trunk and fuel tank to provide a third row of seats. Finally a permanent hardtop was created to give the appearance of a convertible top. The rest of the car is all original GTO.
There are suggestions that the wheelbase was altered but it was not. This is the illusion Jeffries created by changing the sheet metal at each end. No fiberglass was used.
According to Jeffries none of the bandmates could handle driving the car with the modified engine. Especially after he changed the rear axel to a solid mount and put weights in the rear to enable wheelies. For filming, the faux supercharger was fitted over top of the carburetors.
When it was unveiled MPC loved it and Pontiac had fits. Thanks to some quick thinking by Wangers and a highly successful Monkees sweepstakes on Rice Krispie boxes, the Monkeemobile and the GTO became big hits.