Roth began work on this car in 1957. It set the standard for radical custom for years to come.
Much of the car was fabricated by hand, including the frame rails, body and most of the suspension. Most of the drive train was scrounged from junkyard parts and the entire car cost $800 to build. Roth financed the Outlaw’s chrome plating with money from the sale of his first car, the “Little Jewel."
It was first shown at Disneyland in 1959 under the name “Excalibur,” because of its shifter, a Revolutionary War sword which was used by an ancestor of Roth’s wife. Roth noticed people were having troubling pronouncing the word “Excalibur,” so he changed the car’s name to “Outlaw.”
Revell Models released a 1:25 scale kit of the Outlaw in 1962 and re-issued it in 2001.
It is powered by a 331-c.i. Cadillac V8 with four Stromberg two-barrel carbs; 1939 Ford three-speed transmission; solid front axle with coil springs; live rear axle with a cross spring; two-wheel hydraulic drum brakes at the rear.
"Big Daddy" Ed Roth (March 4, 1932 – April 4, 2001) was an artist, cartoonist, custom car painter, and pinstriper who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters. As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California's Kustom Kulture and hot-rod movement of the late 1950s and 1960s.
Roth is best known for his grotesque caricatures — typified by Rat Fink — depicting imaginative, out-sized monstrosities driving representations of the hot rods that he and his contemporaries built. Roth began airbrushing and selling "Weirdo" t-shirts at car shows and in the pages of Car Craft magazine as early as July 1958. By the August 1959 issue of Car Craft, "Weirdo shirts" had become a full-blown craze with Roth at the forefront of the movement. The article featured Roth along with fellow Kustom Kulture pioneers Dean Jeffries and Pete Millar. Inspired by Roth and Barris Kustoms (whose shirts were airbrushed by Dean Jeffries), Detroit native Stanley Miller, a.k.a. "Stanley Mouse", began advertising his own shirts in the pages of Car Craft in January 1961. The lesser known Rendina Studios of Detroit and Mad Mac of Cleveland also joined in on the monster "weirdo" shirt craze, but Roth was certainly the man who widely popularized the "Monsters in hot rods" art form.
In 1959 Roth created The Outlaw. This fiberglass Kustom hot rod was featured in the January 1960 issue of Car Craft. The car was covered in Car Craft and Rod and Custom, and appeared at custom car and hot rod shows. Other hot rods include The Beatnik Bandit (1961), The Mysterion (1963), The Orbitron (1964), and The Road Agent (1965) among others. In 1965, Roth's surf buggy, the Surfite, was featured in the film Beach Blanket Bingo starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.
In 1962 the Revell model company began selling plastic models of Roth's cars and from 1963 to 1965 Revell also manufactured plastic models of many of Roth's monsters, including Rat Fink, Brother Rat Fink, Drag Nut, Mother's Worry, Mr. Gasser and other weird creatures created by Roth. Revell continues to re-issue Roth's Monsters and Kustom Car kits.
In 1963 The Hawk Model Company issued its line of "Weird-Oh's" plastic models, and Marx Toys issued Nutty Mads, both clearly inspired by Roth's work. Both items were quite popular in the mid-sixties and remain sought after collector's items to this day. Hawk Models continues to re-issue its "Weird-Oh's" periodically.
In 1966 Roth began customizing motorcycles. Mainstream motorcycle magazines refused to run his articles and ads, so he started his own publication called Choppers, which featured articles on extending forks, custom sissy bars, etc. It was a small, black and white publication that ran from 1967 to 1970, and was the first magazine ever to exclusively feature custom motorcycles, or choppers. Roth also built the first known VW-powered trike. Roth built many trikes for himself and others including Candy Wagon, California Cruiser, Secret Weapon, Rubber Ducky and The Great Speckled Bird.
In 1968 Mattel introduced Hot Wheels, and Roth’s Beatnik Bandit was one of the first 16 die-cast toy cars produced by the company.
From 1970 to 1975 worked for Brucker's Movie World and their "Cars of the Stars" display. Roth's Druid Princess was one of the many cars displayed there.
Numerous artists were associated with Roth including Rat Fink Comix artist R.K. Sloane, Steve Fiorilla who illustrated some of Roth's catalogs, and most notably, Ed Newton who worked for Roth and designed several of his cars and t-shirt designs beginning in 1964, and painter and Kustom Kulture icon Robert Williams who began working for Roth in late 1965.
In December 1977 Robert and Suzanne Williams along with Skip Barrett organized the first Rat Fink Reunion to celebrate the legacy of Roth. Rat Fink Reunions are still held to this day at the site of Roth's final residence in Manti, Utah and near Los Angeles.
In 1993 a major exhibition was held at the Julie Rico Gallery in Santa Monica shortly after the Laguna Museum show "Kustom Kulture". It was at this time that the lowbrow art movement began to take on steam. Featured in the exhibition titled, "Rat Fink Meets Fred Flypogger Meets Cootchy Cooty" were Roth, Willams, and Mouse and their creations. The L.A. Times placed Roth's Rat Fink on the cover of the Culture section December 20, 1993 with a full article about the entire exhibition.
Jean Bastarache worked with Roth for 8 years up until the day of his death April 4, 2001. The last poster Jean was working on was titled "Monsters Rule.”
A Roth custom car feared lost for many years was the subject of a number of articles in automotive enthusiast magazines in the summer of 2008. The Orbitron, built in 1964, was discovered in Mexico in late 2007. The car, in dilapidated, inoperative condition, had been parked for some time in front of an adult bookstore in Ciudad Juárez. The owners of the shop were also the owners of the car. It was purchased taken back to the United States by Michael Lightbourn, an American auto restorer who did business in Mexico. The Orbitron has been restored to its original condition by Beau Boeckman.
Roth was active in counterculture art and hot-rodding his entire adult life. At the time of his death in 2001, he was working on a hot-rod project involving a compact car planned as a departure from the dominant tuner performance modification style.
Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos was a 1960s novelty music group led by Roth, who was known as Mr. Gasser. Formed in the early 1960s, they released a few bizarre surf rock albums, most notably 1963's Hot Rod Hootenanny. One Way Records released a two-CD set (S22-18319) containing the three LPs and the original artwork.
Ed Roth was married four times. His fourth wife, Ilene, lives in Manti, Utah, where Ed Roth spent the final years of his life. Roth joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1974.
Since his death, an annual “Big Daddy Roth” Open House has been held in Manti around the anniversary of his death. The museum that Ilene Roth created to honor her late husband includes displays of Ed's artwork and other memorabilia. Roth's son Darryl has been working on collecting and displaying his father's work.
The car on display at the museum was built in 2008 by Fritz Schenk as a tribute to Ed Roth and the original Outlaw show car. Schenk has a shop called "Spritz by Fritz" in Belton, MO, where he specializes in painting. He is also a huge fan of custom cars, especially show cars and of Ed Roth.
Besides being a fan of Ed Roth, he is a Roth purist, so when he set out to build this clone of the Outlaw, he was very meticulous in making sure he did things "the way that Ed did it."