Custom Characters: Ed Roth

- Born on 4 March 1932 Ed "Big Daddy" Roth would become one of the largest figures in Southern California's Custom Culture movement of the '50s & '60s
- Today he is best known for the Rat Fink & monster in a car drawings, but he had his hand in a bunch of Kustom pots. In addition to monster t-shirts, Roth built cars, striped and painted cars & was even in a Surf Rock group Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos.
- Ed Roth's advertisements in automotive magazines during the '50's & 60's where legendary. These hand drawn black & white Ad's typically featured the Rat Fink, Roth's anti Mickey Mouse.
- Ed Roth truly had a style all of his own.
- Roth's '56 Ford F-100 shop truck got a Kustom style treatment. This truck was re-discovered in 2016 in Oklahoma and was displayed at the 2017 Grand National Roadster show.
- Another tame car that Roth owned was the '23 Ford Model T Roadster called Tweedy Pie. Roth bought the car in '62 from Bob Johnson of Anaheim, CA. The car has had a few owners & in 2010 was at a Mecum auction. The $200,000 top bid, didn't get it.
- Excaliber. The Revell model company paid Ed to make a scale model of the car. This resulted in Ed becoming known as "Big Daddy". It was thought Ed needed a "hip" name. The body & grill where made of fiberglass, a new material in the Kustom world.
- The Beatnik Bandit. In '60 Ed began work on this bubble top icon. Painted by Larry Watson. When Larry was done with the paint Ed had no moneyto pay him. So Watson was paid in Rat Fink T-shirts.
- The Mysterion. The car was finished in '63 and was in the September '63 issue of Rod & Custom. Ed toured the car a lot & loaned it out to a car show promoter. While touring, the frame cracked & the car ended up in a basement in Missouri.
- The Road Agent. Utilizing a Corvair drive line & engine the car was part of the '65 Detroit Auto Show. The car spent a number of years at the Movie World Cars of the Stars Museum in L.A.. The car sold at auction in 2009 for $187,000.
- Characters like Ed "Big Daddy" Roth only come along very rarely in the world. The impact of the Rat Fink, Monster Cars & Roth's show cars probably can never be measured, but the Kustom world is better off having had this crazy cat around.

A short look at the art & cars of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.

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Comments (8)

    • 1 year ago
  • Hi congratulations - your post has been selected by DriveTribe USA Ambassador for promotion on the DriveTribe homepage.

      2 years ago
  • I'm going to date myself here. That Yellow mysterion. I bought a model car as a kid. One of those glue together kits. If your over 35 years old you know what I'm talking about. I never put it together and it's survived over a dozen moves and still to this day sits packed in a box here. I did a quick scan to get a picture but it's more than 3 boxes deep so I've given up for tonight. Great work and effort Chris!

      2 years ago
    • I'm a little over that 35 mark & I remember the re-release of the Roth cars. At the time, I was all about race cars, so I skipped them, unfortunately. Thanks, Ben!

        2 years ago
  • Fantastic article Chris - Thank you!

      1 year ago
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