Darryl Starbird's

National Rod & Custom Car 
Hall of Fame Museum


Remembering The Legends Of Our Sport

Dean Jeffries Passing

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. Jeffries painted the infamous words “Little Bastard” on the tail section of actor James Deans Porsche. Other stars that would visit 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 Cobra engine. Other cars from the Jeffries stable include the “Monkeemobile”, the original Green Hornet’s “Black Beauty”, James Bonds’ “MoonBuggy” from Diamonds Are Forever, and the 35 foot long 12 wheel “Landmaster” built for the movie Damnation Alley.

Jeffries was also enamored with the Indianapolis 500, where he crewed for many years for the legendary AJ Foyt. Jeffries also painted many of the Indy 500 entries, and in fact one year painted 22 of the 33 starters in the field.

Later in his career, Jeffries was involved in motion picture production, not only from a vehicle construction standpoint, but also as a stunt driver and stunt producer. Some of the movies he was involved in included “What’s Up Doc?”, “The Blues Brothers”, “Honky Tonk Freeway”, “Roger Rabbit”, “Romancing The Stone” and “Die Hard: With Vengeance”.

In his semi-retired years, Jeffries could occasionally be found as a special guest at car shows across the country, but his passion was to be at his shop five days a week restoring his personal car collection and meeting with old friends.

Dean Jeffries was born on February 25, 1933, and is survived by his sister Evonne and his son Kevin Dean Jeffries of Lake Elsinore. Those close to Jeffries know that he is now reunited with the love of his life, his beloved Row, who preceded him in death by 4 years.

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 at www.DeanJeffries.com


Norm Grabowski Passed Away 

Oct. 12, 2012 - Hot Rod Legend and Hero Norm Grabowski passed away this morning.

(Feb. 5, 1933 - Oct. 12, 2012) Norm spent over 50 years of living in the world of hot rods with a few acting jobs along the way.

  Norm is the guy who built the Kookie Kar used in film and television.  (T bucket used on the show 77 Sunset Strip). The car was owned and driven in the show by the character Kookie who was played by Edd Byrnes. 

Norm became famous as a result of this car.



Famed Detroit Customizer Larry Alexander Dies
By Dale Jewett

Larry Alexander, who with his brother Mike ran the famed Alexander Brothers car customizing shop in Detroit, died Wednesday, Aug. 25. He was 79 years old.

The Alexander brothers created dozens of stylized and concept vehicles in the 1950s and '60s--for automakers and private customers--that were featured at auto shows and on the covers of national magazines.

Among them was the Dodge Deora truck, which won the coveted Ridler Award at the 1967 Detroit Autorama--one of three Ridlers won by Larry and Mike Alexander. The Deora was a model for one of the original Hot Wheels cars released in 1968.

Other noted cars from the Alexander Brothers include:

-- The Silver Sapphire, a 1932 Ford Coupe for Clarence Catallo, which was pictured on the cover of "Little Deuce Coupe" by the Beach Boys.

-- The Grasshopper, a 1931 Ford Model A pickup.

-- The Victorian, a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria for Sy Gregorich.

-- The Venturian, a 1956 Chevrolet for Bobby Massaron that won the brothers their first Ridler Award in 1965.

-- The Alexa, a 1964 Ford Galaxie Fastback.

-- Top Banana, a 1923 Ford Model T that won the brothers their third Ridler award in 1969.

The Alexander brothers learned their auto bodywork skills in trade school in the mid 1950s and began working in their father's garage. The business grew quickly and in 1957 the duo opened the original Alexander Brothers Custom Shop in Detroit, one of three locations the business would be based at during its history.

Larry Alexander left the business in 1968 to work as a metal model maker at Ford Motor Co. The business closed in 1969 when the building on Schoolcraft Road in Detroit was razed to make way for freeway expansion. Mike Alexander went to work for Heinz Prechter at American Sunroof Corp.

Services were scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28., in Westland, Mich.

For more on the Alexander Brothers, go to www.kustomrama.com/index.php?title=Alexander_Brothers.


Elden Titus  (February 18, 1948 - October 8, 2008) 
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in June 2000.  Designed and built many cars in his career, his latest being the Voodoo Spider and Vampyre, that are on display here in the museum.

2010   Barry Lobeck

2009   Larry Watson

2008   John Butera

2008   Boyd Coddington

2008   Dick Dean

2004   Neil Emory

2001   Ed 'Big Daddy" Roth

1999   Manuel Arteche

1998   Bill Cushenbery

1996   Joe Wilhelm

1967   Sam Barris

 


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