By Tom Duffany
Mormon Car Designer Reflects on His Work
FITCHBURG, MASSACHUSETTS -- Ed "Big Daddy" Roth recently celebrated
his sixty-ninth birthday. The creator of Mother's Worry, Nervous
Brother, and Rat Fink, he has customizing cars since 1955. In 1958 he
built his first car and started going to shows to exhibit his work.
At the car shows, to kill time, he started drawing cartoon characters
on peoples' shirts. "I thought, the lousier I drew, the more likely
the people would go away. I'd draw snaggly teeth and everything. But
the more I did that, the more they liked it." Rat Fink, "a tacky
rodent with a penchant for road rage," became an instant favorite.
"Rat Fink was the antithesis to Mickey Mouse, definitely."
Ed Roth has been divorced twice, married a third time, and has become
a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has
created a wife, Trixie, and two children for, Gunther and Gretchen,
to round out Rat Fink's family. "I've had a lot of sad experiences in
creating a family, but I know that the survival of our culture
depends on families." He incorporates this into his work. "With Rat
Fink and Trixie, I'm trying to maintain the value of families. They
have a happy marriage because they travel together."
He continues to travel to car shows, where the grass roots culture of
custom car designing is still flourishing. "You can't get these ideas
everywhere. Like, 'Chevy brains.' Where else would you get a name
Fitchburg MA Sentinel and Enterprise 2Mar01 P2
By Margaret Smith: Staff Writer
Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth reflects on 50 years of custom car culture