1986 Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s “Asphalt Angel” Trike


Ed Roth had already served four years in the Army and was into the southern California hot rod scene by the age of 23. He had a natural talent for art that led him to sketch vehicles. Learning from greats like VonDutch, he and friends opened a paint shop in 1957 and began painting and pin-striping cars and motorcycles.

Always an idea guy, he also starting airbrushing t-shirts with car and owner caricatures which became very popular. Soon inspiration brought the character Rat Fink, emblazoned on a refrigerator door behind the machine as it’s displayed at the National Motorcycle Museum. From his fertile counter culture mind Roth offers,

“Whenever I looked at that Rat Fink drawing, I felt I was looking, for the first time, at reality—my reality. The world that my parents, teachers, and responsible type people all around me belonged to wasn’t my world. Why did I have to be like them, live like them? I didn’t. And Rat Fink helped me realize that.”

After building dozens of radical completely unique cars in the 1960’s and 1970′s, Roth, known as Big Daddy by then, turned his attention to trikes building many. His 1986 creation Asphalt Angel is remarkable in that he drove it from LA to the street Rod Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota just after completing it. He was turned away from the show since the machine did not meet the “built before 1949” criteria then in place. “Success! I was the happiest drop-out ever, on the way home.”

Many readers will recall the 1/25 scale plastic model kits of Roth’s creations. As not all of us were able to see such machines at hot rod shows, the miniatures brought them into our homes and taught us painting and assembly, at a small scale.

In 2001 at the age of 69 Roth left the scene while hard at work in his Utah based workshop.

Asphalt Angel is one of many impressive custom bikes in the National Motorcycle Museum that you can take in when you visit. There is also fascinating custom bike art and sculpture on the National Motorcycle Museum’s walls and in showcases.


  • Engine: Buick V6
  • Type: Overhead Valve
  • Frame: Double Loop
  • Front Suspension: Springer Fork
  • Rear Suspension: Auto Rear Axle, Narrowed
  • Brakes: Hydraulic Disk front, Drum Rear
  • Wheels: Cast Alloy, 5.00”x16” / Alloy Wheels, BFG Tires
  • Body: Custom One-Piece Fiberglass Body
  • Seating: Vinyl Bucket Seat


  1. Bill Baylis

    Big Daddy’s work was responsible for my afternoon visits to “detention” in high school. I was hookred on his cars, creatures, and amazing graphics! So, of course, I dedicated my scholastic efforts to copying and then trying my own ideas on book covers, notebooks, desktops, whatever was handy.
    Big Daddy ruled!

  2. Hank Clark

    When I was in Junior High at the end of the 1950′s I talked my parents into letting me go to the Kansas City Rod and Custom Show. They dropped me off and said call when ready to come home. I will never forget the first time I met Big Daddy. Still have a photo I took of him. He was painting T-shirts and Sweat shirts with his famous Eye Ball pulling Monsters with a quick air brush. Seeing the Beatnic Bandit right there in front of me in stead of in the pages of Hot Rod or Rod and Custom magazines was a grand experience. Of course I went back the next year as well and enjoyed the Outlaw. What an artist of iron, fiberglass and paint. He was very much the early dreamer of custom cars and bikes. Still have his autograph, as at the time I couldn’t afford a shirt. Thanks Big Daddy!!
    P.S. The next year he was in a booth next to a young Stanley Mouse. Who was also painting monster shirts & who went on to design many famous Rock and Roll Concert posters

  3. Paul Gilkerson

    I was also a fan of Rat Fink and Big Daddy’s comics, artwork, and models when I was young. In March 1980 I braved the midwest cold weather and took my Moto Guzzi to Daytona Bike Week, where I visited Big Daddy’s “Rat Hole T-Shirt and novelty store” and went to the Big Daddy Bike Show on Daytona Beach and got pictures of him and a couple of bikini clad girls aboard his famous Rat Hauler custom vehicle..

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