KEITH DEAN HAS, AS THEY SAY "followed in the footsteps of his father", the Legendary Dick Dean, and started by working on projects with his Dad. But, over the last two decades, Keith has carved-out a custom-building career of his own.
One of those great rides that he's done is the 1940 Merc, shown above, that was built for Harold Saul. A feature story on this beautiful machine, by Anna Marco, ran in the December, 2010 Issue of Car Kulture DeLuxe #43.
Keith actually decided to "Road Trip" this Merc from California to Darryl Starbird's 49th Annual Rod & Custom Show in Tulsa ! In the cold, nasty month of February, with NO TOP ! Well, he not only did it...but won a coveted "Fine Nine" Award at the show !!
And, Keith's work on JOHN SALTSMAN'S '49 Studebaker Truck, along with the work of his Dad, Dick Dean, plus, George Barris, Gene Winfield, Bill & Mike Hines, and, Brad Masterson, helped John win the "Go For The Gold" Award at Starbird's show ! John's car is now on display at the National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame for all to see !! (Photos Courtesy of Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame)
KEITH & I MET AT THE 31st Annual KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina...that's where we did this late-night Interview. Keith is just one of the nicest guys that you will meet, and when the mike was turned on we talked about many, many things...one of those was about his memories of his Dad.
Most remember Dick Dean as the "King Of Chops" for the chopped Mercs he did through the years, and the hundreds of customs that he built. But, Dick was also a master aluminum fabricator of Bonneville cars, Indy 500 cars, and, Dragsters.
DICK ALSO CREATED HIS OWN very cool ride during the Dune Buggy craze. Called the "SHALAKO" it was a major hit, was featured on the cover of seven national car magazines, was turned into a model kit by MPC, and won many awards, including the coveted Rod & Custom Magazine Award.
And in a super project & concept move, Dick was hired by Malcolm Bricklin as the Chief Engineer on the ill-fated Gullwinged-Bricklin. This turned out to be a beautiful car but, sadly, was underfunded, and met with factory problems due to its Canadian-built situation.
I've always been a sucker for "gullwing" cars ! That started for me with the 1954 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, and continued with the Bricklin, and later, the DeLorean.
SO, DURING THE COURSE OF OUR INTERVIEW, I wanted Keith's personal memories of his Dad, and his Dad's work in all-phases of the Industry...including the special areas that Dick branched out into, like the Shalako, and, the Bricklin.
When Dick & I met at Starbird's in 2001 I had asked him about his association with Malcolm Bricklin and that project, so I had laid some groundwork for the Interview with Keith year's earlier...and his story completely echoed what Dick had told me, so it was great to hear Keith's personal memories on that subject.
Thanks again, Keith ! Hope to see you in Salina !! JK
(To hear Keith's stories of his Early Days, Favorite Cars, and, more about his Dad, Dick Dean, Simply Click-On-This Link ! )
DICK DEAN'S FABRICATING BODY WORK ON ANDY GRANATELLI'S #40 Indy 500 Turbine Car in 1967 was superb ! This photo shows the car as it's displayed in the "Indy 500 Motor Speedway Hall Of Fame". A true honor in itself. (Photo courtesy of the Indy 500 Motor Speedway Hall Of Fame)
SPECIAL NOTE: All photos/images shown on this page courtesy of their original owners/copyright holders...with sincere thanks !