Dean Jeffries is an American custom vehicle designer, fabricator, stuntman and stunt coordinator for motion pictures and television programs based in Los Angeles, California.
He was born in Compton, California, and grew up in neighboring Lynwood, where his father was a mechanic. Jeffries served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, stationed in Germany. While in Germany he saw fellow soldiers and locals custom painting their motorcycles, and this led him to pin striping. As a young man, after returning from Germany, he started doing pin striping on the side, while working as a grinder in a machine shop. As the striping took off he opened a custom pin striping shop that would became famous with the Hollywood film industry. 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. 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 pin striping style, Mobil Oil hired him in the following years to paint any of the Indy race cars. It was free to the teams and Mobil got their logo somewhere on the car. Jeffries would paint and pin stripe the cars and helmets of race car drivers like Jim Rathmann, Parnelli Jones, and A. J. Foyt, and become Foyt's paint and body man. 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. He also developed his own paint, Jeffries Indy Pearl.
Jeffries is a certified welder and custom builds vehicles used in numerous Hollywood productions through his company Dean Jeffries Automotive Styling (aka Jeffries Automotive Styling), on 3077 Cahuenga Boulevard West, in Los Angeles.
He began custom fabrication in the 1960s and built the Mantaray (from Bikini Beach; 1963), Black Beauty (from the The Green Hornet), the Monkeemobile, the Landmaster (aka Land Master; from Damnation Alley; 1977), the moon buggy (that James Bond steals in Diamonds Are Forever), the trolley (from Who Framed Roger Rabbit). Jeffries is also an expert on dune buggies, produced his own models, and has contributed to books about them. He did all of the custom fabrication work on the movie Convoy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he rented the shop from Burns Truck & Parts.
Jeffries worked on the design and initial fabrication for the Batmobile (for the 1966 Batman TV series), but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could deliver, he turned it back to George Barris who hired Bill Cushenberry to do the fabrication work.
In 1992, a Green Hornet a private collector purchased the number one Black Beauty from the former transportation director of Twentieth Century Fox for the sum of US $5000 and commissioned Jeffries to restore the car; two cars had been built for the series and with the number one being the primary car. Although the vehicle was in perfect mechanical condition with the original custom wheels and most body modifications as used in the show and had logged only 17,000 miles (approximately 27,350 km) since new, it was badly weathered and in need of a full cosmetic restoration. Jeffries restored the car to its current condition. The rocket launcher panels on the trunk lid had been welded shut, requiring replacement of the body panel in order to make the system functional again, the flip-down green headlights were intact less their drive motor and discovered beneath the hood after. The car was sold to another collector in 1999. The Black Beauty is currently part of the Petersen Automotive Museum collection. The Number TwO' Black Beauty has also under gone a complete restoration and resides in a private collection in South Carolina.