The Monkeemobile’s origins began in 1966 when Dean Jeffries was asked to design and build a car for a new TV show called “The Monkees”. Jeffries, under contract with Model Products Corporation (MPC) at the time, told CEO George Toteff about the project. A make of vehicle had not yet been chosen for the project. Mr. Toteff then told his friend Jim Wangers of these developments. Mr. Wangers was working with Pontiac promotion and advertising at the time and saw the show as a huge promotional opportunity for Pontiac. After making the deal, Jim Wangers supplied two base 389 4-barrel 1966 GTO convertibles with automatic-transmissions to be converted into Monkeemobiles. MPC was in turn given exclusive rights to market a model kit of the Monkeemobile. They would end up selling over 7 million copies of these kits.[2
After the television show ended, both cars were offered back to Dean Jeffries for $1,000 each, who had right of first refusal. He declined to purchase the cars because he felt he could build new ones cheaper.
The “TV car” (aka car # 1) followed the Monkees on tour only to be left in Australia in 1968. It later resurfaced in Puerto Rico as a hotel courtesy car. To this day, there is still no hard information on how the car made its way to Puerto Rico, and it was sold at government auction in 1992 for $5,000 when the hotel went out of business. Though basically as it was built, the car did get some restoration work done when bought, and it was used as the example for the Ertl Company 1:18 scale die-cast toy, The Monkees 1997 TV reunion show, “Hey, Hey, It’s the Monkees” and the 2001 “Cars & Guitars Of Rock N Roll” display at the Petersen Automotive Museum . It is now in the hands of a private collector in Northern New Jersey.
The “show car” (aka car #2) was purchased by custom car designer, George Barris. This car would be the most visible during the years. Barris later went on to use and display the car for promotions at many large and small events. In 2006 the car went through a major restoration. Even though it became a 100 point show car, many changes and upgrades were made. In January 2008, Barris, through Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona, auctioned the car for $360,000. It now resides in the hands of a private collector in southeastern Michigan.
Barris also had Dick Dean, who had helped Jeffries build the two originals, make a copy, identified by yellow trim on the headlight bezels, tan seats (instead of the original white upholstery), and other variations. A second copy or tribute car was recently built by a longtime associate of Dean Jeffries this car contains many parts removed from the #2 car during its restoration and belongs to a private collector in Florida. Another repica was built for the Monkees 45th Anniversary Tour. The tour, which took place from May 12, 2011 to July 23, 2011, was the fourth and final reunion tour to feature band members Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork together, before Jones’s death from a heart attack on February 29, 2012. There are numerous replicas created over the years with distinctive visual differences unique to each car. None of these copies were made by the original cars’ creator, Dean Jeffries.