1950s Los Angeles was an incredible time and place for car culture. With inspiration from hot rod culture, kustom culture, and European imports, the body workers of the area were crafting some truly incredible one-off masterpieces. Having worked with George Barris, Dean Jeffries got his start in the industry doing custom car work, which eventually led to his now infamous 356 Carrera creation, seen here in a recent Hoonigans Autofocus episode. The car is unlike any other 356 ever built, with Jeffries taking inspiration from whatever he saw in the custom world.
It started out as a 1956 Porsche 356 Carrera 4-cam, which is obviously already an incredibly special car. The race-bred Fuhrmann engine breathes a different life into the already super competent 356 chassis, turning it from a fun sports car into an out and out racing machine of its day. While it’s not fast by today’s standards, the 130 horsepower engine was a mighty powerplant in 1956, pushing this little bathtub to much quicker acceleration times than its 616-powered stablemates.
Jeffries took this delightful Porsche and made it his own. In profile you’d be hard pressed to notice much more than the missing bumpers, but from the front and back you’ll see dozens of little tweaks that make the car truly unique. Up front the lights have been frenched to create a stunning fascia. Out back the 356 has benefited from a pair of lead-bonded Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing roof vents and tail lights. Everything on the car has been smoothed and tweaked and relocated to make it one of a kind.
The interior is kitted out with a full selection of pleated leather, everywhere from the dashboard to the floor mats. The dash has been splattered with graffiti-style paintwork and a whole shop worth of gauges to keep an eye on that engine. And everywhere there was metal or bakelite before has been replaced by bright chrome work. It’s a truly stunning place to sit for a second, so it’s nice to be able to see this from the perspective of being inside the car, thanks to Larry Chen’s camera work.
In the video the owner claims the car is worth a million to two million and that a Porsche four-cam engine is $400,000 on its own. I find that particularly interesting, given that the car sold for $436,750 at the Bonhams Quail auction in 2018, and was recently listed on the Petrolicious marketplace for a cool $765,000.
Jeffries built this car as something of a calling card, so that people in the industry would know him as more than just a painter. His career blossomed from there to legendary status, so it must have worked. It’s a unique look that you won’t see anywhere else, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to check it out in more detail. Click play, you won’t regret it.