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History Dean Jeffries' Mantaray!

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Ryan, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 18,609

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

  2. oldandkrusty
    Joined: Oct 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,074


    Thanks Ryan for posting this little bit of history about Dean and his Mantaray. What a car and, more so, what a guy! There's no doubt in my mind that Dean is every bit as much as talented as all the other California car builders we keep hearing about - George Barris, Joe Bailon, Watson, etc. However, he did things he own way and really didn't care who he pissed off along the way.

    I would highly recommend that whoever is in the LA area for whatever reason that a trip to his shop at 3077 North Cahuenga Ave. in Hollywood be put on your itinery. Dean is a gruff old sort at first but once you are inside his fenced yard and into the shop, you will find nothing but a great guy more than willing to shoot the shit for a few minutes - or longer. He always has something of interest in the shop so don't be afriad to ask if it's alright to look about. And, don't forget to ask him about George Barris, and then wait for the sparks to fly. Some great recollections from the past.

    Incidentally Ryan, I had no idea whatsoever that California Metal Shaping built the body for the Mantaray - for 800 smackers. WOW, I'm stunned. Thanks for that piece of info. I'm always learning here. And at 65 years of age, I'm too old to do anything else! LOL!!!
  3. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 14,599

    Staff Member

    Thanks for posting this Ryan, I always thought the Mantaray was was the best designed and engineered of all the showcars of the era. for some reason it just seemed more like a "real" car to me. Dean really knocked it out of the park with that one, the mantaray is surely a classic. At a time when you could look at some showcars and wonder what the hell was the builder thinking of, the Mantaray doesnt make you think that, everything about the car just makes sense.
  4. The lines of that car have always been just Perfect.
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  5. That car is every bit as beautiful as anything from Ghia, Farina, Bertone or any of the other design houses.
  6. ProEnfo
    Joined: Sep 28, 2005
    Posts: 1,500

    from Motown

  7. I am a very big fan of Dean Jefferies work. I don't know the man, but I sure know his work. Although it is totally impractical, the Mantaray is a styling milestone of the sixties show car scene. As was shown in the movies, the car couldn't be driven with the bubble down, but sitting on the showcar floor, there has been no car that compared to the impact that Dean Jefferies had on the scene. The cost of $800. bucks for a hand formed body is unbelievable.
  8. KreaturesCCaustin
    Joined: Sep 3, 2008
    Posts: 1,258

    from Austin, TX

    Very cool article. Thanks for posting. I always love that particular car and that whole era, for that matter. One question, though. As stated above, it couldn't be driven with the bubble down. Why was that? Was it just a matter of head room? I only ask because someday I want to build a bubble top car. I even want to do the bubble myself.
  9. Toymont
    Joined: Jan 4, 2005
    Posts: 1,361

    from Montana

    I remember seeing the car in Beach Blanket Bingo or whichever Beach movie that was? running it all over town with the bubble open, and was wondering why? I love the styling on this car and it did drive.
  10. He didn't do like Plowboy and incorporate an A-C system! Probably had no intention of actually driving it.
  11. Scrumpy
    Joined: May 31, 2006
    Posts: 85

    from NH93 Exit1

    Great article - One of the first custom show cars I remember seeing in the mags growing up.

    I do have one question. In Pic 11 there are 3 cars with a bubble on them, is this from his shop, one of the show staging areas or somewhere else? If from his shop did he go on to make more after the show or was he doing this type of ride already and the Mantaray was the result of previous efforts?

  12. mcload
    Joined: Apr 20, 2007
    Posts: 538


    Great article. Must have hauled ass as well!
  13. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,588

    from SUGAR CITY

    Damn Ryan, I thought that you would have thought this car would have been a travesty for you. I mean, a show rod which has no purpose except aesthetics built upon a platform that was all function. It would appear to be a waste of a beautiful chassis, but instead I think it's what really set this car in the right direction. I am not going to say that it was a personal favorite of mine but the attention to detail coming from Both Dean Jeffries & the builders at Maserati are the high point of this car. If we were to eliminate some of the show details and paint we may see some streamliner characteristics done by California Metal works. The car grows on you because there's much inspiration being drawn from all walks of Hot Rodding. A culmination of sorts.
  14. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,744

    from Novi, MI

    LOVE that car. always have. it was a thrill to see it when i was at the Peterson... that differential is a work of art all on it's own! i don't believe i've see pics of that before. thanks for sharing.
  15. kustomizingkid
    Joined: Sep 6, 2008
    Posts: 225


    I just saw the Mantaray on Thursday last week!
  16. I had the Hot Wheel version when I was a kid. It was so cool.
    Every time I see a Manta while diving I think of this car! If it could have gone
    sub-marine it would have been the hands down Bomb-Diggity end All be All
    of automobile history.
  17. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,733


    My all time favorite show car. Thanks for posting and history.
  18. JimA
    Joined: Apr 1, 2001
    Posts: 4,796


    Yeah- and what is that blue car- it's AWESOME!
  19. seatex
    Joined: Oct 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,661


    Anybody have pics of the bubbletop Vette?
  20. custom50
    Joined: Dec 29, 2007
    Posts: 396

    from Indiana

    Thanks for posting, I'm getting ready to become an alliance member soon, and I can really use the kitchen sink.:)
  21. Great tribute to a great designer/builder/painter/striper.
    I have always been a fan of Dean's work. He's another guy I should have tried to meet and shake hands with while I lived in L.A. His style is reflectied in the way I look at design. He used art principles we use in animation with the complimentary use of 'straights and curves.' His stuff always had the look of movement even when the car was standing still.
    The Monkee mobile has it's detractors but, love it or hate it, when he got his hands on the first GTO, he built a rel beast.
    The Mataray was/is his masterpiece.
  22. If you look at the picture of the dash it shows air conditioning vents. I imagine that headroom and heat made driving with the bubble down impossible.
  23. sodas38
    Joined: Sep 17, 2004
    Posts: 2,201


    I was thinking that body was fiberglass, but steel and only $800 to have the metal fit to the tubing, thats insane. Wonder what that would cost today????
  24. autobilly
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 3,093


    Interesting article and a talented guy (Dean Jeffries), but the car itself doesn't do anything for me.
  25. pimpin paint
    Joined: May 31, 2005
    Posts: 4,940

    pimpin paint
    from so cal


    It's my understanding that California Metalshaping, the builder of the Mantaray's body, also did some work for the Barris Bros. The Sail panels
    of some of Sam's early chops are rumored to have come from California Metalshaping, perhaps too, the fade-a-way sheetmetal as well?

    Scott Knight, the inventor of the shrinking disc, is said to have been a former employee of California Metal. An older gent by the name of "Red",
    who's fabbed more sheetmetal for classics, sports cars and, perhaps kustoms, was also an employee.

    Does anyone know of other kustom metal that may have come into the world via California Metalshaping?

    Swankey Devils C.C.
    "Meanwhile, back aboard The Tainted Pork"
  26. blackout
    Joined: Jul 29, 2007
    Posts: 1,270


    I've always admired the Mantaray. It looks like a high styled racing car as much as a custom.
  27. Zookeeper
    Joined: Aug 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,040


    I don't remember where or when I read it, but seeing that Cobra motor (yes, it's a real Cobra engine, not out of a Fairlane) reminded me of a story I read that told about Dean getting a tour through a Ford Racing shop somewhere. There was a pile of GT40 parts, suspension stuff, transaxles, motors, chassis stuff, etc sitting in a corner. Dean asked what the deal is with that stuff, and they told him it was just old parts leftover from some GT40 program and if he wanted it he could have it, for free, if he just got it out of there. Seems like he was building a GT40 roadster and used the parts on it, but I don't remember seeing a pic of it.
  28. haroldd1963
    Joined: Oct 15, 2007
    Posts: 1,154

    from Peru, IL

    I saw the Mantaray in person at the Peterson Museum a few years ago. Thanks for the History lesson Ryan!

    I was wondering how you go about making a bubble top. Maybe somone who knows how can post it durring the next tech week.
  29. KK Hickey Designs
    Joined: Sep 10, 2008
    Posts: 277

    KK Hickey Designs

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