Emanating from southern California's hot rod and surfing scenes, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's art captivated the nation--well, young breeder males, at least--in the years around 1960. Ganahl's coffee-table biography is a cornucopia of facts and color reproductions, including tee-shirt shop and county fair perennial Rat Fink and plenty of Roth's wild, customized vehicles. Rat Fink may have been created "to show what Mickey Mouse's father . . . looked like," but as underground comics god and former Roth staffer Robert Williams says, "It was the cars that made Ed." Roth rivaled George Barris in flamboyant hot rod designs, and his were "the first," Ganahl avers, "to take the automobile . . . into the irrational world of abstract thought." With their fanciful lines, monstrous motors, and palpable attitude, early triumphs like Outlaw and Beatnik Bandit attracted attention at auto shows. When plastic model kits of Roth cars and characters appeared, he became famous, and Rat Fink became a pop-cultural icon. Ganahl's text occasionally wanders, but as a pictorial archive, this package is peerless. Mike Tribby
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