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Back from the Undead…Drag-u-la
Story and photos by: Dennis “Menace” Jackson of Thorazine Two Step
On 1313 Mockingbird Lane sat a Victorian home and was the setting for a family of friendly monsters, goofy gags, and a couple of the most iconic and well-known hotrods that George Barris ever built, the Munster Koach and Dragula. The fictitious story of the Dragula goes that Eddie Munster told his friend that his dad, Herman, could beat his friend’s dad in a drag race. Herman lost that race and lost the Munster Koach in that bet. Grandpa Munster had an idea to win back the family car; build a car using Eddie’s bike, an empty coffin from the funeral parlor, and pipes from the organ. Grandpa Munster raced the Dragula against the Munster Koach and won it back.
Once you know the Dragula’s story on the tv series, you can see how Butch Patrick, “Eddie Munster”, is really the pivotal point in its origin; hence the importance of the accuracy when it’s Butch having another replica of the Dragula built. Brandon Von Elrod and Jim Collins know that the Devil is in the details. Elrod and Jim are not just building a front engine dragster with a coffin on it, they are building a DRAG-U-LA. The only detail that is divergent to the original tv series Dragula, is the 500hp 347 stroker engine and powerglide transmission which should accommodate Butch’s request for it to pull the front wheels on the drag strip.
To put all the puzzle pieces together, Elrod knew who to call first, Keith Dean of South End Kustom. Dick Dean “The Sultan of Chop” is Keith’s father and legendary car kustomizer who worked for Barris and with Dean Jeffries and Bill Hines. Dick worked on the original Dragula and made molds of the coffin body for replicas over the years. Not only did Keith grow up and work around all these now legends, he also has his dad’s molds of the Dragula coffin body. Elrod had Keith paint the Dragula body gold, keeping true to the urban legend that either Dean Jeffries or Dick Dean painted it with a brush and can of gold one-shot because Universal wanted it gold not black.
Accuracy to the original Dragula is the key thread to this build by Elrod and Jimmy for “Eddie Munster”. They have spent hours studying the dimensions of the model kit by AMT, and scouring through any available pictures and footage of the original tv series, Dragula, to create and document the most accurate replica possible. The smallest details, like the moon style gas pedal, which doesn’t say moon on it in the pictures, has to be right. A lot of the items needed are no longer made, so they have to be tracked down through contacts in the hotrod community. The gas tank on the front, which was an Eelco, and the Mickey Thompson cross ram intake were acquired through Dave Shuten of Galpin Auto Sports. For accuracy, the rear wheels are being machined special by Radir Wheels to match the original Tri-Rib Radirs with the old-style ribs and 5 on 5.5 bolt pattern. Radir is also producing a special set of rear tires; however, they are still on the hunt for a correct set of ford spindle mount motorcycle wheels for the front tires. The complicated bubble top for Dragula was obtained through Keith Dean who had a company in LA that makes fighter jet cockpits and has amazing optical clarity. A lot of information on the parts and pieces of Dragula has been lost to history, so the AMT model has been a great source for recreating many pieces that can’t be bought and have to be made. Everything Elrod and Jim are doing must be documented thoroughly so they can repeat the process again and again. The end goal is to create a Dragula that makes hardcore fans believe they are looking at the original.
Here is the kicker we have alluded to thus far; Butch Patrick, “Eddie Munster”, will be offering this Dragula, and more replicas, for sale to the general public with a certificate of authenticity from himself to the owner. The debut and promotion of these Dragula replicas is still in the works, but be on the lookout for a spring debut. To stay up to date, follow Butch Patrick “Eddie Munster” and Brandon Von Elrod and Jimmy Collins on Facebook.