Corvette Museum Featuring the Work of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth


Corvette Museum Featuring the Work of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth

Photo Credit: National Corvette Museum

Growing up in the 1970s, I remember loving to look at the work of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, though back then I didn’t know he was the creative genius responsible for those crazy caricatures of cars with big slick tires and fiery exhaust.

Tom Peters was so influenced by the timeless work of “Big Daddy” Roth that he was inspired to launch a career as a long-time designer for General Motors, including work on Corvettes, of course.

Now retired, Peters is helping pay tribute to Roth by co-curating a year-long exhibition in 2020 at the National Corvette Museum called “Car-Toon Creatures, Kustom Kars & Corvettes.”

Included in the exhibit will be a re-creation of Roth’s garage, where vehicles like the Orbitron, Mysterion, Orchid, Bubble Ray, and Tweedy Pie will be on display, along with his personal truck used in his pinstriping business, vintage toys and T-shirts, and model kits. Peters’ design studio at the GM Tech Center will also be re-created, and a display of Corvettes he created is planned.

Tom Peters and his Roth-inspired C7 Corvette

Photo Credit: National Corvette Museum

“Back in the 1950s and ’60s, kids who liked cars bought hot rod magazines along with T-shirts, models, stickers and toys from Roth Studios,” said Bob Bubnis, historical media coordinator and lead curator for the “Big Daddy” exhibit. “They featured caricatures of cars with giant smoking slicks and fire coming out of the exhaust, with blown engines and cartoon monsters at the wheel. Tom would begin copying those drawings, and in the process, he learned about how to draw cars with personalities and attitudes. The monsters were just cool. The most notable one was Rat Fink, who will serve as the mascot throughout this exhibit.”

Bubnis says the exhibit will appeal to more than just older enthusiasts.

“Anyone from that era will love taking a trip back through time to see these cars and artifacts together in the same place,” said Bubnis. “In addition to that though, we will be introducing Rat Fink and his gang of crazy creatures to a new generation. There will be lots of friendly monsters throughout the exhibit to keep young people entertained.”

Bubnis says he won’t be surprised to see grandparents bringing their grandchildren to the exhibit “and sharing their stories from that important time in history. Maybe they’ll even want to buy one of the models they built back then to put together now.”

National Corvette Museum via

Rat Fink Inspired 1975 Corvette Bubble Ray is One of a Kind
[VIDEO] GM Designer Tom Peters Talks About His Early Design Influences
[VIDEO] SEMA 2009: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth Tribute Corvette



  1. Ed “Big Daddy” Roth always had a radical design edge. The guy I bought my 74 Twin Turbo Greenwood Widebody was a personal friend of his. Clyde Hensley! Clyde’s car history would be a great read. A few are filmed on the American Pickers March 2019 episode “Michigan Madman”

  2. I was at a car show at Devonshire Downs { since torn down] in 1964 and the Mysterion was on display, I was looking at it when out of nowhere comes this guy and walking right beside him is Ed Roth, Roth is agitated and out to prove a point, he pulls the key out of his pocket, the bubble top is already open he reaches in and within 3 seconds the car cranks and both engines come to life, it sounded absolutely awesome, Roth looks over at the guy and says pay up. The guy hands him a dollar. I thought why didn’t he make it a 5 or 10 dollar bet, but I think Roth just liked hearing it run just as much as I did .
    I have gone to hundreds of car shows, but that was the coolest thing I have ever seen.
    Thanks for the memories Big Daddy.

  3. Cool stuff, I am 58 years in February, and remember these well. They were cool then and cool now. I’m hoping to make it to the NCM this year in my 1990 ZR-1 that I have been working on.

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