Rat Fink and the many other characters created by the late Ed “Big Daddy” Roth have represented 1950s and 60s hot rod car culture for many decades. From the back of your neighbor’s classic truck to major National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing events, there is no doubt that you have seen Roth’s iconic artwork.
Although the characters originated as one-dimensional drawings, they have become living, breathing beings in the past couple years through the film “Tales of the Rat Fink.” In this music video we found on RideLust, Rat Fink and his comrades even lend their skills to “The Sadies” in a cool animated hot rod race complete with rock and roll heaven.
Ed Roth was one of the original defining fathers of “Kustom Kulture,” a way of describing the cars, style, and art of those building and driving custom cars and motorcycles from the 1950s through today. Mostly identified with the 1950s “greasers,” 1960s drag racers and 1970s lowriders, Kustom Kulture is the very essence of what it’s like to be an automotive enthusiast and how individual taste affects customization styles and everyday life. The most famous of Roth’s characters, Rat Fink, is the mascot of Kustom Kulture.
Created as an anti-Mickey Mouse, Rat Fink is a green monster rat complete with buldging eyes, sharp pointy teeth, a depraved look and iconic red jumpsuit with R.F. printed on the front in yellow. As the symbol of Kustom Kulture in its entirety, Rat Fink gained notoriety when Roth airbrushed the character on t-shirts and started selling them at car shows and through magazines like Car Craft. Some 50 years later and Rat Fink is as widely known as hot rod culture in general.
In the 2006 music video for “The Horsehoe” by The Sadies, annimator and director Mike Roberts make use of the recognizable Rat Fink phenomenon to promote the documentary “Tales of the Rat Fink” by Ron Mann.
Starting off with a couple of Roth’s famous monster characters, the band competes in animated form in a hot rod race across the desert, complete with musical instruments atop each car.
When the competition between Roth characters gets intense, with one crashing early on and the other losing a wheel at the end, the band ends up dying at the hands of an out of control hot rod. In the end, the band does get a second wind as they fly up to rock and roll heaven.
Check out the unique Rat Fink music video above. Not only does it capture Roth’s artwork, it also serves as a reminder that the essence of Kustom Kulture is within all of us.