I saw this photo of the original "Rat Fink" the other day and posted it on Facebook..people went wild.. As a kid in school I drew RF on everything I could get my hands on. I never knew what my attraction to Roth's art style was about until Chris Morton sent in this story tonight... Thanks Chris for letting me know....Kimmer was an outlaw early on....
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and Rat Fink
Any fan of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and Rat Fink should watch this terrific Tales of Rat Fink video (with lots of voiceovers from famous folks):
One story has it that Stanley "Mouse" Miller, who eventually finished his training at Detroit's Center For Creative Studies (formerly Society For Arts & Crafts), was painting monsters on hot rods at fairgrounds around Michigan.
Mouse and Kelly
Along came Ed Roth and, spotting a good idea when he saw it, took it to the next level. Mouse, of course, is better known for his rock poster work with Anton Kelley, most notably for the Grateful Dead.
The whole CA hot rod scene that eventually produced the Batmobile, the Munster Koach and the Monkees' custom GTO was chronicled in Tom Wolfe's (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
Of course, the entire line of Carroll Shelby cars would never have existed without the initial express approval of Ford HQ in Dearborn, and—later—Chairman Lee Iacocca when he left Ford to head up Chrysler.
Those were heady times for any car-crazed model builder like me. And having both a stepfather and brother ensconced at Ford's "Glass House," I was privy to a lot of ephemera that most kids my age didn't have access to.
It even happened that we had some sort of tie to the Gallogly family, Wes Gallogly having founded AMT (the model car company that eventually had operations in Troy). They consistently issued the coolest kits until IMC came along. Of course, Big Daddy had signed with Revell, so that company issued his line of monsters driving hot rods.
AMT's 3 in 1 'Trophy' kit instructions in the early 1960s usually came with mini-biographies of popular customizers of the day such as Bill Cushenberry, Dean Jeffries, Alex Kraus, Gene Winfield, the Alexander Brothers, and, of course, George Barris, most of whom were employed by AMT. Gene Winfield even closed his California shop to work with AMT (Cawthon 2002). Further, on the sheets there was often a separate section on 'customizing hints' by George Barris exclusively.
An extreme example was the 1957 Ford Thunderbird kit. Instructions gave 5 whole pages to 'stylizing', a practice of adding parts using body putty and sanding which went beyond mere 'customizing'.
These were all tips besides the normal assembly instructions. Included in the '57 'Bird kit were additional 'street rod', 'drag bird', and 'Bonneville' styles all suggested by George Barris.
It was also the heyday of Peterson Publishing's Hot Rod magazine, featuring color photos of cars driven by the likes of Don Garlits, Connie Kalitta and "TV" Tommy Ivo and the cars having names like "Hemi Under Glass" and "Little Red Wagon." Slot car racing parlors like Tiny Tim's on Woodward in Royal Oak also fueled (no pun intended) the dreams of young boys like me.