If you've ever watched TV and seen The Batmobile,The Bat Boat, The Monkeemobile, The Green Hornet's "Black Beauty", The Munster's Coach, The Dragula Car (from that same show), or the Beverly Hillbilles Car, you've seen the work of Dick Dean.
Dick also did work on the "Flintstones" Cars for that movie, AND, did the remote control Ford Broncos in "Jurassic Park", plus, cars for the "Power Rangers".
Dick worked with Barris & Dean Jefferies on many of those above projects, later went out on his own, and became known as "The King Of Chops" as he chopped the tops on more 49-51 Mercurys, and various other cars, than anyone alive: probably OVER 1,400 at last count. (Dick told me he once chopped the tops on 3 '53 Studebaker's in one week ! )
He worked on other TV-Movie Cars, built cars for the stars in Hollywood, built "clones" of some of his original cars for private customers, was hired by Malcolm Bricklin to be in charge of building the short-lived Bricklin automobile, created and built his own "dune buggy-type car "The Shalako" that he sold either as a kit or a "turn key" car, built some fantastic custom Mercs for Noel Blanc, Mel's son, and was one of the best story tellers you'd ever want to know.
During the 80's & 90's Dick, and his son, did much work also for the Hard Rock Cafe Chain. Putting together some fantastic displays, car wall hangings (with REAL cars), etc.
Dick was a pilot in Korea during the Korean Conflict, and piloted his own early-aviation type planes in later years as a hobby. He also built & flew many motorized large-scale model airplanes.
DICK AND I MET AND BECAME FRIENDS at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Hall of Fame when I drove "The Invicta" down there for Induction Ceremonies in the Spring of 2001.
We kept in contact for a number of years, and Dick was on the top of my list to Interview for my "Hall of Fame Legends" Series and was even mentioned in my Demo for the show. But, Dick retired, had some health problems the last few years and didn't travel outside of his home area in California (and, even in good health, wouldn't travel on commercial airplanes after 9/11).
Sadly, this will haunt me for some time to come, as Dick was one of my personal Heroes who became a friend.
But, nothing can EVER take the place of a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation with DICK DEAN himself.
I know. I've been there.
RIP, my friend, and I thank you for the kindess & friendship that you showed me. JK
(Above left & right: Yes, Dick worked on BOTH the "Batmobile" AND the "Monkeemobile" ! In fact, he later made clones of many of these that he originally helped build !)
( PLUS: Dick worked with Dean Jefferies on the "Black Beauty". The original now resides in the Petersen Museum in L.A. )
(Above left: the model kit of the "Surf Woody" that Dick worked on with George Barris; Above right: the "Shalako" Dick's own Dune Buggy creation that was available as a turnkey OR kit car. )
Dick was involved with Malcolm Bricklin in the mid-70's, helping to put together his short-lived, under-financed Gull Wing Coupe: the BRICKLIN. But the car itself was really a stunning & ambitious project that Dick told me he had appreciated being a part of.
(Above: a '59 Cadillac Woodie, one of the many cars that he and his son, Keith, did for the Hard Rock Cafe chain. )
NOTE: Some photos on this page courtesy of Rod & Custom Magazine & Street Rodder Magazine. All photos/images on this page courtesy of their original owners/copyright holders...with sincere appreciation !
CONGRATULATIONS TO KEITH DEAN !
Dick's son, Keith, has followed in his father's footsteps in a remarkable way ! He is a superb builder in his own right and, like his Dad before him, was Inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall Of Fame. Keith was inducted at the 2010 GNRS Event and is well deserving of this prestigious honor.
Again, congratulations Keith. I know your Dad would be SO proud of you ! Thank you for your friendship...you are one of THE b-e-s-t ! JK