Ed Roth has played a defining role in hot rodding and automotive customizing, but he doesn't tend to be associated with minicars. (If you are having a tough time "placing" him, it might help if I describe "Big Daddy" as the creator of Rat Fink, Drag Nut, Mother's Worry and Mr. Gasser.) He started with custom paint work in the late 50's - then moved on to the design of one-off, custom hotrods.
"The Original Rat Fink" was an exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Among the featured cars was a 1973 Honda 600 that Roth turned into a rolling billboard for his painting and pinstriping business. But a favorite "Big Daddy" minicar is the Surfite. the Surfite is a true concept car, demonstrating how a "hipster" surfer could get around. Under its unique custom surfboard carrier body is an Austin Mini Cooper chassis.
Power is supplied by a 1269cc Austin Mini Cooper chrome-plated engine, described as an Austin Sidewinder. The fiberglass body is by "Dirty Doug." (And one can only imagine who he is.)
Ed tried to get Surfite in a movie that he heard was being filmed in Sportsman's Cove in Malibu, and even though it was only a split second, Surfite made a brief appearance in Beach Blanket Bingo.
(Originally appeared in MINUTIA Issue 15, Number 2.)