Psycho Renaissance Presents: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth

Posted by graham On December - 13 - 20104,757 views

Born in Beverly Hills in 1932, Ed Roth quickly discovered a passion for drawing, and spent his class time doodling. Luckily for Ed, his father was a German cabinet maker who taught his son the art of woodworking, where he learned to channel his creativity into the creation of more practical things.

Ed with the Beatnik Bandit!

In 1946 Ed bought his first car, a slick 1933 Ford Coupe. Planning on a career in automotive design, he briefly went to college but dropped out when he discovered his classes had nothing to do with hot rods. Over the next few years Ed would serve in the United States Air Force in Africa and work at Sears designing product displays to support his wife and five children.

Finally, in 1958, his passion became a career. He began building hot rods full time, building some of the most off the wall, nutso rides the world’s ever seen and established himself as the reigning king of Kustom Kulture. Among his creations were the famous Beatnik Bandit, the Orbitron, a car with three primary colored headlights that became a single white beam, and Rotar or “Roth Air Car”, a car that rode over land and sea on a cushion of air.

But it was a return to his childhood sketchings that would bring Ed the most fame. Fed up with the popularity of Mickey Mouse and other schmaltzy Disney characters, and taking a cue from fellow Kustom enthusiast Stanley Mouse, Roth airbrushed a t-shirt featuring his most enduring character, Rat Fink.

Roth's passions combine, to the horror of neighborhood children.

A hairy, green rodent, Rat Fink’s bulging eyes, salacious grin, and questionable hygiene delighted folks far flung from the hot rod scene. Teenage boys were him, and teenage girls wanted to get the hell away from him. Pretty soon Rat Fink and friends like Mr. Gasser and Drag Nut were hauling ass across t-shirts, posters, and comic books. These days you can find Rat Fink’s wild eyed visage on everything from Halloween masks to shifter knobs.

Unfortunately, Ed Roth passed away in 2001. His wild work and mantra of “Fink Different” continues to inspire hot rod enthusiasts and comic lovers to this day.

FURTHER READING:

The Official Ed Roth Website: http://www.ratfink.com

A history of Ed Roth and his characters: http://www.ratfink.org/ratfink3.htm

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