Monkeemobile Creator Dean Jeffries Dies at 80
The automotive world has lost another one of the good guys. Dean Jeffries, whose career spanned more than six decades, died on May 5, 2013, at his home in Hollywood, California. He was 80 years old.
Jeffries was born February 25, 1933, in Osage, Iowa; his family later moved to Compton, California. He served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany during the Korean War. While there he saw fellow soldiers and locals custom-painting their motorcycles, which led him to pinstriping. Once back in California, Jeffries opened a pinstriping shop in Lynwood before moving to Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and later to his long-time shop on Cahuenga Boulevard in Studio City.
He painted the infamous “Little Bastard” logo on the tail of actor James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder. Dean ultimately died in that car in September 1955. Other stars frequenting his shop included Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Jay Leno. Jeffries’ first major success was in the 1964 Grand National Roadster Show with his asymmetrically styled Mantaray, which featured a Maserati Grand Prix chassis and a Ford Cobra V-8.
Pontiac fans remember him as the creator of the two original Monkeemobiles, which were based on ’66 GTO convertibles. Other cars from the Jeffries stable include the original The Green Hornet Black Beauty and James Bond’s Moon Buggy from Diamonds Are Forever.
My personal experiences with Jeffries go back to 1997, when I was preparing a history of the recently rediscovered No. 1 Monkeemobile. I called his shop and spoke with his wife, Rosalee “Row” Jeffries, who was helpful and took my contact information. He later called me back, which in itself was a huge thrill for me. He was super-friendly, incredibly patient with my excruciatingly long list of questions, and even offered original negatives of shots of the two Monkeemobiles being constructed.
The end result turned out to be an extensive history of those cars and the situations that created them. It also sparked the inclusion of the No. 1 Monkeemobile in the 1997 The Monkees TV reunion special, Hey, Hey, It’s The Monkees, and I was hired as a production consultant as a result. Though I never met Jeffries in person, we were phone pals for a while, and both he and his wife were exceptionally kind to me. I will never forget that.
New GeeTO Tiger Car Model
“C’mon and take it out, paint it on, glue it up, GTO!” That’s what car-model aficionados will be doing with Revell’s new 1:25-scale Royal ’66 Pontiac GTO, which pays homage to the famous ’66 GeeTO Tiger from Pontiac high-performance dealer Royal Pontiac of Royal Oak, Michigan.
Pontiac ad-man Jim Wangers came up with the promotion, which successfully sidestepped GM’s mandate to Pontiac to not directly participate in drag racing. Since 2002, Wangers and the GeeTO Tiger (with driver Dave Anderson) have appeared at major Pontiac events and offered racers the chance to “Beat the Tiger.”
“I was extremely pleased when the Revell folks announced this new model kit of the updated ’66 GeeTO Tiger,” Wangers says. “While retaining its original look of the ’60s GTO, all of the new sponsors of the current car are duly recognized, giving its 10-second performance capabilities an entirely new look. I am particularly pleased with the white-left-side/black-right-side look. This car-model is a very accurate and satisfying update of this exciting car!”
The kit includes a pre-painted GeeTO Tiger figure, a detailed Pontiac Tri-Power 389 V-8, and a choice of different decal versions. The price is $24.99.
A limited number of autographed kits are available directly from Wangers at www.geetotiger.com.