Fiberglass Pioneer Roth Dies

13 April 2001

Ed ``Big Daddy'' Roth, whose fantastic car creations and anti-hero Rat Fink character helped define the California hotrod culture of the 1950s and '60s, has died. He was 69. Roth died Wednesday at his studio in Manti, Utah, said Joe Bennett, a dispatcher with the Sanpete County Sheriff's Department. The cause of death wasn't immediately given.

A generation of teen-age rebels across the US found a hero in Roth, whose chrome and fiberglass creations stirred awe at car shows. Many adopted his airbrushed anti-hero, the bug-eyed, menacing Rat Fink, who became a cultural counterpoint to Mickey Mouse. While Roth worked on custom cars in his garage-studio near Los Angeles, youngsters across the country broke out the airplane glue to work on intricate scale plastic models of his ``Outlaw'' roadster, bubble-topped ``Beatnik Bandit,'' or futuristic ``Mysterion.'' As a designer, Roth was considered a genius and visionary, not only for his radical designs, but also for his pioneering use of fiberglass in car bodies.

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