5.15.2013

DEAN JEFFRIES HOLLYWOOD CAR DESIGNER

Dean Jeffries, a man with a brush...

One of history’s preeminent automotive sculptors and engineers passed away at home on Sunday, May 5, 2013. Dean Jeffries, also known as “Deano” began pinstriping cars with the legendary Von Dutch in Lynwood, California, in the early 1950s.


Jeffries pinstriping lead to custom painting, and then to custom fabrication.

Jeffries started his craft in Lynwood before moving to Sunset Blvd, then to his long-time shop on Cahuenga Blvd in North Hollywood. Jeffries fabricated some of the most innovative custom cars and hot rods of all time.

 Hi Kim,

Thanks for the piece on Dean Jeffries. Although he held the original Batmobile contract, he was paid off early and the contract was fulfilled by customizer George Barris.

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Prior ton the Monkeemobile, the Manta Ray (above) was his most famous work. It was built on the chassis of a former Maserati grand prix (today's Formula One) race car.

 Chris

Dean Jeffries was one of America’s pioneering customizers, a man who inspired three generations of hotrodders, drag racers, car builders, and customizers with his talent, vision, and genius. With his ideas, his spray guns, his pinstriping brushes, and his metalworking tools, he showed the way...

 Dean Jeffries 1933-1935

A neighbor of Jeffries, race car driver Troy Ruttman would befriend him, and they would work cars together. After Ruttman joined with J. C. Agajanian, the Indianapolis 500 race team and Ascot Speedway owner, Agajanian hired Jeffries to stripe and letter his cars in 1953.



Actor James Dean was one of his early customers, and Jeffries painted "Little Bastard" on the Porsche 550 Spyder that Dean owned. Jeffries recalled the day in September, 1955: "Jimmy knew that I was a pinstriper and had met me through Lance Reventlow and Bruce Kessler. 


He drove to my Lynwood shop in his new 550 and asked me to paint a temporary number 130 on the front hood, rear deck lid, and both doors of the Spyder in flat black, washable paint.

He also asked me to paint "Little Bastard" on the tail section in the same font script. I painted it with One Shot, a gloss black enamel paint, as this would be permanent. It turned out great. Jimmy thought that the "Little Bastard" looked so cool across the bottom of the tail section."


As an extra reward for working on his cars, and to have him on hand there, Agajanian took Jeffries to the 1952 Indy 500. Noticing his unusual painting and pinstriping style, Mobil Oil hired him in the following years to paint many of the Indy race cars.


 
After that, in 1962, he worked for famous race car designer and builder Carroll Shelby on the Cobra.
 
He would go on to become one of the best custom car painters of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and an early pioneer of painting flames on cars. Funeral Arrangements are still pending...RIP Deano

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