- Beatnik Bandit was one of “Big Daddy” Roth’s most famous show cars.
- It was one of Hot Rod Magazine’s Top Ten Hot Rods.
- It was sold as a model by Revell and miniature car by Hot Wheels.
- Roth was the first to put illustrations on T-shirts.
- His first show car was built to promote his T-shirt business.
Beatnik Bandit, Outlaw, Rat Fink, Great Speckled Bird, Druid Princess, Road Agent, Yellow Fang and Wishbone – these are names of just some of the show cars created by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth in the early 1960s.
In the early 1950s, Roth was the first to put illustrations on sweatshirts and T-shirts. He used felt pens at first and then began using an air pencil (a commercial cake-decorating tool), which was the early version of the airbrush used today. Roth created the Outlaw in 1959 as a promotional attraction for his expanding T-shirt business, then more and more of his time was spent on his fiberglass custom car creations.
This Beatnik Bandit was his next project and became Roth’s most famous show car. It was selected as one of Hot Rod Magazine’s Top Ten Hot Rods. Many of Roth’s creations, including the Beatnik Bandit, were sold as plastic models by Revell and as Hot Wheels miniature cars made by Mattel.
Roth acquired a 1949 Oldsmobile chassis and running gear for the Beatnik Bandit. The chassis was shortened five feet. The Olds OHV engine was give the classic hot rod look with a GMC blower and twin Ford carburetors. Everything was chromed but the blower belt. The interior was finished with white Naugahyde with deep padding and a unique single control “joy” stick that operated turning, throttle and braking. The paint scheme features white pearlescence with gold and brown tone panels, mixed with black and white matching stripes. The bubble top was manufactured as a one-off item in a pizza oven, using compressed air to inflate the sheet of clear acrylic plastic into a dome.