Ed "Big Daddy" Roth: His Life, Times, Cars and Art

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Just the mention of his name triggers a reaction. In 1965 after seeing Roth's wild customized hot rods, Tom Wolfe spontaneously wrote an Esquire article about him in a new, wigged-out and crazy writing style, New Journalism: "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)…" Crazy, man! Although Rat Fink's creator died in 2001, Ed Roth lives on in the hearts and minds of a generation.

There have been a number of books written about Ed Roth, including Confessions of a Rat Fink, which he wrote himself completely in beatnik jive, but I think this book by Pat Ganahl is the best by far. You'll DROOL over the great color photos of all the cars, along with a bolt-by-bolt run down on the construction and components. And they're all there, from Roth's modest early '32 Ford hot rods to his later insanely asymmetrical, metal-flaked, bubble-topped show cars, to motorcycles and dragsters. It's baroque "rolling sculpture," baby!

Your eyes will BUG OUT over the photos from Roth's own collection of family pics, candid in-progress at-the-shop snapshots and posed publicity stills. Who else could pull off wearing a top hat and tails, or a chromed Nazi helmet, or film director's beret, or overalls with a lumpy felt Rat Fink hillbilly hat – and always with a crazy smile?

You'll go WILD reading the real story of working with Revell on the weirdo and custom car models, including interviews with his staff. There's plenty from artist and Juxtapoz-creator Robert Williams, an early Roth collaborator who did the art for the T- Shirts and print ads. Custom cars and vehicles, models and toys, comics, T-shirts, decals, skateboards, trashcans – with his just-make-it approach, what didn't Roth create?

And there are lots of great anecdotes on Roth's life. Although he was quite intimidating and took no crap from anyone (and faced down many a Hell's Angel biker!), Roth was known to be generous, kind-hearted, and he even taught Sunday school in the Mormon Church. No FLIES on him! I think every Roth fan and fink will like this crazy book. Or as Ed Roth said: "Can ya' dig it?" – Robert Knetzger

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth: His Life, Times, Cars and Art

by Pat Ganahl


2003, 192 pages, 10.5 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches

$28 Buy one on Amazon