Dean Jeffries, 80, a legendary auto customizer who was one of the first hot rodders to chop, channel, and soup-up automobiles during the car-crazy 1950s in Southern California, died May 4. He had been in declining health, and his death was confirmed by his son, Kevin.

Mr. Jeffries was an automotive jack-of-all-trades, working as a stuntman, car builder, and race-car painter and pinstriper.

Mr. Jeffries' distinctive paint jobs and sculpted bodywork attracted many admirers to his auto shop, including the likes of James Dean, Steve McQueen, and A.J. Foyt.

He also made the "Monkeemobile" and the original Green Hornet's "Black Beauty."

In 1955, Mr. Jeffries customized James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder, which the actor was driving when he was in a crash that killed him less than a month later.

Mr. Jeffries also painted many Indianapolis 500 cars.

For television, he created the "Black Beauty" for the 1960s show The Green Hornet and built the Monkeemobile, a modified 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible. - L.A. Times