Dean Jeffries’ Mantaray!
It’s the early 1960’s and Dean Jeffries wants to make a name for himself. He sees guys like Bill Cushenberry and George Barris winning big trophies and taking home big checks and realizes the bar has been set – all he has to do is leap over it. By 1963, Dean has perfected his craft and is confident enough to set a goal. Hell or high water, he was going to win the Oakland Show. Doing so would not only give him a name, but set him up with a large cash prize, a free trip to Europe, and a brand new car.
Of course, none of that would come easy. Winning the Oakland Roadster Show was a kin to winning the Super Bowl. It took talent, a ton of hard work, and maybe even a little luck. None of that deterred Dean, however, and it wasn’t long before the Mantaray was under construction.
As luck would have it, Dean’s father-in-law had a couple of pre-war Maserati Formula cars sitting in his back yard. Dean asked nicely, the man obliged, and when it was all said and done, the Mantaray had an extremely sophisticated foundation to begin life with. From there, Dean took a ton of quarter-inch rod and just started bending a shape he had in his head. Once finished, he dropped the whole lot off at California Metal Shaping and for $800, they formed the body.
Mechanicals were next. Dean did some work with Carol Shelby on the Cobra and as trade, took a nicely prepared and webber inducted 289. It fit the car perfectly and gave the Indy inspired ride all of the required grunt. As mentioned earlier though, the frame and most of the remaining mechanicals are all Maserati – including the gorgeous drum brakes, beautifully proportioned rear-diff, and highly sophisticated (at the time) independent front suspension.
The final touch was a typical one in the early 1960’s – a bubble top. Dean blew it himself and amazingly, only had to do the deed once. I’ve heard it said that Dean never really understood the bubble fad, thought they ruined drive ability, but did it anyway as he felt he needed the feature to compete. Whatever the case, you can’t argue the final look. Neither could the judges – Dean took the Roadster Show and all of the goodies that came with it.
The car now sits fully restored in the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Note: All of the images above are from vintage sources with the exception of the last the four… And I don’t recall where I got them. If they are yours, email me for credit. Thanks!