Trio of original hot rod illustrations by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, 1963.
New print “NAG FINK” now up for preorder! S/N edition of 100: http://theartofcoop.bigcartel.com/product/nag-fink-silkscreen-poster-preorder
A few words about “Rat Rods”.
If you really want to insult me, I mean like punch-you-in-the-mouth levels of insult, then by all means call my Model A or my ‘46 a “rat rod”. Rat rods are ugly, shitty, often dangerous clown cars - they are NOT hot rods.
The hot rod aesthetic is based on racing - all the classic alterations from a stock vehicle come out of the desire to go faster. Removing fenders to lighten the car, lowering to improve stability at high speed, chopping a top to lessen wind resistance, and even a big/little wheel/tire combo to improve rear end gear ratios.
Notice I didn’t say anything like “knobby truck tires” or “lots of skulls” or “a mailbox for an air cleaner”.
Real hot rods are made to be driven. They should not only look cool, they should be “cool” - as in able to get on the highway and drive 500 miles without overheating. They should be able to handle a curvy road, and stop at a stoplight.
If you can’t drive your “rat rod” over a speed bump, you don’t have a vehicle, you have an art statement. An ugly-ass art statement.
In closing, please don’t use the “R-Word” around me.
Drag Racing History Lesson: I got this beat-up old dragster cowl in 2005, as part of a trade deal for my Triumph motorcycle. It had decals from the ‘63 and ‘64 Bakersfield March Meet, a race put on by the Smokers car club in Bakersfield, so I knew that it had some history.
I went to the 2005 Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso, to see if I could find out more. I tracked down a couple of the original members of the Smokers, and they confirmed that the cowl was from a dragster built my Smokers member Bernie Mather, who was also the announcer of the March Meet!
Shortly after that, I found his daughter online, and sent her photos of the cowl. She sent back a nice letter, and these photos of Bernie with the dragster. Her letter:
glad you have found this little treasure. The 34 1/2 cars were handmade by my Father, Bernie Mather. The piece of sheet metal which you have was formed by him with his tools & his hands. I remember watching him form the portion where the windshield attached with a small pipe and a hammer. Bernie worked for Pacific Gas & Electric welding gas lines on new construction. So, he also welded the chassis for the 34 1/2 cars. He took great pride in his craftsmanship, and greatly admired the fine craftsmanship of others. He painted all the 34 1/2 cars purple. They were always purple because that was the Smoker’s Club color. He actually was the last member that signed the documents when the Smoker’s Club was sold. He did so reluctantly. He was a very passionate individual, he loved Drag Racing, and held his fellow racers in the highest esteem.
Good Fortune & Highest Regards,
Ms Linda Mather “
She also offered to buy the cowl, but I said I was keeping it!
P.S. the bottom photo is Bernie with Mickey Thompson and another famous drag race announcer, Jon Lundberg. Dig the Roth shirts Bernie has under his arm!