Barrett-Jackson Auction

5-ish Minutes with Barrett-Jackson Auto Designer, Murray Pfaff

Jaime Villegas

By Jaime Villegas

December 21, 2015

garage_51019.jpgOn the fifth day of Quintmas my true love gave to me…five minutes with Barrett-Jackson auto designer, Murray Pfaff! Get the full 12 Days of Quintmas here!

We got to sit down with Murray Pfaff, the mastermind behind the 1962 Ford F-100 Custom Pickup named “Django” that’ll be up on the auction block at next year’s Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction! Randy Weaver knew exactly what he wanted for the vehicle and he knew Pfaff Designs could deliver!

Check out our conversation with Murray below!

What made you decide to go into this line of work?

I have always been a “car-guy” and active in the hobby all of my life.  Most of my career has always involved the automobile in some fashion.  I was an exhibit designer for the Collier Collection in Naples, FL, designed interactive exhibits for a hands-on science museum, and was a Creative Director for an online ad agency serving Ford Motor Company.  So 12 years ago I combined these two passions and started Pfaff Designs. 

How much were you given to go off of for the design for Barrett-Jackson vehicle “Django”?  Did the customer have specific wishes or did you have the freedom to design whatever you wanted?

Most vehicles I design are done for a specific client and are often very personal for them.  Therefore it must reflect their personality and tastes.  Plus, most car enthusiasts are also very creative themselves.  However, with that said, any given project usually leaves plenty of room for me to flex my creative muscles.  In the case of Django, it was the third vehicle I had designed for Weaver Customs so we already had a great rapport to create a truck that was truly incredible.  Randy Weaver had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted, so we took that and bounced ideas off of each other to come up with “Django”.

django_panel_03-1.jpgHow long did it take to complete “Django”?

[The] Django design process took a couple of months of sending sketches and ideas back and forth.  Weaver Customs would also send build photos periodically and I would send back sketches and notes.

What was your inspiration behind the design?

The inspiration came from builder Randy Weaver.  He wanted to build the baddest, unibody pickup with attitude and a touch of western influence.  And if the exterior didn’t complete the mission, you open the hood to find a 1000HP compound charged Cummins 12 valve diesel!  A truly innovative and outrageous build for all of the right reasons.

How many cars have you designed?

I have designed over 400 vehicles.  They have ranged from hot rods, customs, pro-touring, rock crawlers, semi’s, motorcycles, and even an airplane.

imperial_114_mr.jpgDo you have any favorite designs that you have created?

My favorites usually end up being the cars I build for myself since they are the most personal to me and I have control of the build process from beginning to end.  My 1959 Imperial Speedster is probably the best example.

What’s the typical process when someone is interested in designing a modified vehicle?

I will have a consultation with them in person or over the phone.  We will talk about other cars they have built, their goals for the new build, their ideas, capabilities, budget, and timeline.  From there I write up a proposal which is a bullet-pointed list of the design criteria, ideas, specific elements they want to explore in the drawings, and estimate of hours involved to design it.  If they approve, a check for the estimate gets them on my schedule (usually within 2-3 weeks).  Turn around is based on how quickly they respond to the drawings and our conversations covering changes and modifications.  It is a very fluid and iterative process and can take as little as a week.

Do you work alone or with a team of designers?

I am a studio of just one.  When you call – you talk directly to me.

Randy.Sydney.Boost_2562.jpgHow much collaboration goes into a design/modification?

It just depends on the project, owners, and/or builder.  In the end it is their project, I just do my best to help everyone navigate the design (and sometimes build) process to achieve their goals and create a great looking car.

What’s the most drastic transformation you’ve ever done on a vehicle?

My Imperial Speedster went from a 4-door sedan to a 2-seat sports car, taking 10,000 man hours to build.  It was cut into 46 major sections and was narrowed 8”, sectioned 3”, and shorted a total of 51’ in 5 areas.  It’s powered by a 6.1 HEMI with a Viper IRS and has 5,000 miles on it!  I’ve autocrossed it, driven it on two HOT ROD Power Tours, it was featured at the Playboy Mansion, and won the $20K “Go for the Gold” award in Tulsa beating a Ridler winner!

frankencuda_top2.jpgHow many of your designs have been sold at Barrett-Jackson auctions?

There have been over two dozen that I am aware of.  Cars like “Sidewinder" Cobra, “Boost”, “Bad Company”, “Poison Dart”, “Full Force Trans Am”, several that didn’t have names, and probably the most memorable – “Franken’cuda” that went for over $300,000.

What’s your dream modification/design?

I can’t let the cat out of the bag.  You will just have to wait to see.

full_force_TA_0495.jpgIs there a car that you would never want to modify/change?

I don’t believe in modifying anything that had production numbers less than 100 or has historical significance to our hobby.

Are there any famous people you have designed cars for?

You mean like Sammy Hagar, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry, Nick Swisher, Michael Jordan, and Tim Tebow?

See you at the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction!

You can watch “Django” and more cross the block this January! Get your Official Ticket Package to the auction through Barrett-Jackson VIP Experiences and live the 45th Annual Scottsdale Auction in style. Find out more about our ticket packages below!

See You at the 45th Annual  Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction!