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MODERN CLASSICS VINTAGE CARS WITH A TWIST ARE RESTORER'S PASSION.



Byline: Holly Edwards Staff Writer

CANYON COUNTRY - With its torpedo-shaped chrome bumpers, suede-lined interior, and long, sleek body painted in brilliant shades of Noun 1. shades of - something that reminds you of someone or something; "aren't there shades of 1948 here?"
reminder - an experience that causes you to remember something
 aqua and green, Dean Bryant's latest automotive custom creation is part sailboat, part hot rod hot rod

Automobile rebuilt or modified for high speed, fast acceleration, or sporty appearance. A wide range of automobiles may be called hot rods, including some of those used in drag racing as well as those used in recreational cruising.
.

Dubbed Dean's Rocket, the car was crafted from parts of four classic cars - Thunderbird thunderbird

In North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird that watered the earth and made vegetation grow. Lightning was believed to flash from its eyes or beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent rolling thunder.
, Mercury, Cadillac and Lincoln - and 16 different shades of paint were combined to make the car virtually glow in the dark.

Bryant hand painted aqua and purple flames on the sides, and spent countless hours heating and hammering steel to give the car its distinctive shape.

``It took four months working day and night to build this car,'' said the middle-aged hot rod guru. ``This one damn near killed me.''

With his long gray beard and ponytail, orange-tinted glasses, black cowboy boots, and horseshoe-shaped diamond ring, Bryant is as stylized styl·ize  
tr.v. styl·ized, styl·iz·ing, styl·iz·es
1. To restrict or make conform to a particular style.

2. To represent conventionally; conventionalize.
 as the cars he creates.

For more than four decades, he has been transforming rust-tinged classic cars into immaculate low riders in rich tones of purple, orange, pink and green.

Film studios frequently call upon Bryant's talents, and the Mattel toy company has made several Hot Wheel models from his custom built cars.

His garage, Elegant Customs in Canyon Country, is lined with photographs, movie posters and trophies he has accumulated over the past 40 years.

The most well-known of Bryant's creations is the flame-shooting 1951 Mercury featured in the movie ``Gone in 60 Seconds.''

Mattel marketed a Hot Wheels Hot Wheels is a brand of die cast toy car, introduced by American toymaker Mattel in 1968. It was the primary competitor of Johnny Lightning and Matchbox until 1996, when Mattel acquired rights to the Matchbox brand from Tyco.  model of the car and has expressed interest in developing a model of his latest creation, Dean's Rocket.

Bryant is equipping the car with the same 200-pound fuel cells that gave his Mercury its flame-shooting ability.

One switch in the car will activate the twin fuel cells to begin spraying gasoline out the tailpipes, and another switch will deactivate de·ac·ti·vate  
tr.v. de·ac·ti·vat·ed, de·ac·ti·vat·ing, de·ac·ti·vates
1. To render inactive or ineffective.

2. To inhibit, block, or disrupt the action of (an enzyme or other biological agent).

3.
 the car's motor so it doesn't explode, he said.

``You're sitting on a bomb is what you're sitting on,'' he said.

For kicks and giggles, Bryant said he once activated his flame-throwing Mercury on the San Diego Freeway The San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405, and the part of Interstate 5 south of the El Toro Y[1]) is one of the principal north-south highways in Southern California, and the major beltway of I-5 running through Southern California.  when he had gotten far enough ahead of traffic to be safe.

``It lit 'em up man, just like a ball of fire,'' he said. ``They slammed their brakes on behind me, and it was nothing but taillights on the other side.''

Bryant said his son will drive the Mercury in the annual Fourth of July Fourth of July, Independence Day, or July Fourth, U.S. holiday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Celebration of it began during the American Revolution.  parade in Newhall, while he'll be behind the wheel of his flame-shooting Rocket.

In all, about a dozen of Bryant's cars will be featured in the parade, and about 50 Special Olympics Special Olympics

International sports program for people with intellectual disability. It provides year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type summer and winter sports for participants.
 award winners will ride in them, he said.

The flame-shooting cars will also be featured in a poster with the B-2 stealth bomber, he said, adding that the posters will be sold to benefit the Antelope Valley This article is about the Los Angeles County region. For the census-designated place in Wyoming, see Antelope Valley-Crestview, Wyoming.

The Antelope Valley
 Hospital.

His next project is a custom-designed 1966 Rolls Royce convertible.

``It's going to be cool looking, man,'' he said. ``Nobody had cut the top off a Rolls, yet.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Restorer Dean Bryant of Elegant Designs in Canyon County sits in one of the custom autos that will appear in the July Fourth parade.

(2 -- color) no caption (Dean Bryant)

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 25, 2001
Words:534
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