While many concours events fit the age-old stereotype of being a bit stuffy and restrained, the annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance –held each March in the resort community of Amelia Island, Florida– has been bucking that trend to a fair degree. Years past have seen plenty of unconventional machines assembled on the lawn, including a judged class filled with original, period-correct hot rods. For the 23rd annual show to be held next year, a class of custom cars created by aftermarket legend “Big Daddy” Ed Roth will be on display.
Ed Roth, born in 1932–an iconic year for hot rod enthusiasts thanks to the Ford V-8 engine and the ’32 Ford “Deuce” Coupe–made both a living and a name for himself customizing cars after a stint in the U.S. Air Force. Roth’s legacy grew largely due to his T-shirts, stickers, scale models and other memorabilia that feature his popular Rat Fink cartoon character, an “anti-Mickey Mouse,” as it has been described. Profits from these products often went right back into his automotive creations, helping to keep the shop lights on.
Among Roth’s popular creations are the Beatnik Bandit, a bubble-topped street rod based on a shortened 1950 Oldsmobile chassis that used a chrome rod to both steer and accelerate. The Orbitron is another Roth build which also uses a bubble top, but the platform is a homebuilt tube frame covered in fiberglass bodywork. The Orbitron was thought lost for several years before turning up in Mexico in 2007. The car was since restored and is now owned by Galpin Auto Sport, based in Los Angeles, CA.
Both the Beatnik Bandit and the Orbitron, among other Roth creations, are expected to take the show field at the 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 11, 2018.