“Big Daddy” Roth’s “Wishbone” Kustom Hot Rod Is the Koolest
It’s too bad he didn’t like it very much.
It's a sad day when any automotive museum shuts its doors, but that's what's happening with the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Mississippi. The facility opened in 2002, but founder Frank K. Spain passed away just four years later, and his family recently decided to sell the collection via Bonhams auction house, with all proceeds going to charity. Fortunately for enthusiasts, the auction represents an opportunity to buy some very interesting cars, including the "Wishbone," a custom car built by Ed Roth in 1967.
The late Ed "Big Daddy" Roth is one of the best known Kustom Kulture artists based in Southern California in the 1950s and '60s, who in addition to creating several well-known custom cars, also was the talent behind all the Rat Fink t-shirts, stickers, and posters you've no doubt seen at various car events. Roth also worked with Revell to produce model kits of his most popular customs.
The 1967 Wishbone is a futuristic looking street rod with wide rear tires tucked into the bodywork, along with skinny, wire-spoke front wheels that evoke competition dragsters of the day. Fiberglass was used to create the car's body and tub, along with the jutting, spear-like features at the front of the thin-nosed rod. According to Bonhams, Roth was never entirely happy with the Wishbone and neither was Revell, who claimed its spindly suspension bits would be too delicate if produced in model-kit form.
As a result, Roth order his crew to cut the car into pieces and send it to the scrapyard. Only that's not what happened. After the car was disassembled, Roth employee Dirty Doug asked to keep the bits in his possession, which Roth agreed to under the proviso it never be put back together again. That's a promise Dirty Doug couldn't keep and soon the car was back on the show circuit, reassembled and good as new. Incidentally, the Wishbone is the first—and last—car Roth built with a flat-four, air-cooled Volkswagen engine.
While it's always difficult to pin a price on one-off cars such as the Wishbone, Bonhams' presale estimate is $80,000 to $120,000. With no reserve, the highest bidder takes the car home no matter the bid. In fact, everything in the museum auction will be offered at no reserve, including cars and various automotive memorabilia, so if you're a bargain hunter you may want to head over to Bonhams' site for a full listing of everything that's available.