Corvette designer helps museum curate ‘Big Daddy’ Roth exhibition

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Rat Fink
Tom Peters' sketch of the new C8 Corvette done in the style of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth | National Corvette Museum illustrations

The art and influence of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth will be celebrated throughout 2020 at the National Corvette Museum, where there will be a year-long exhibition called “Car-Toon Creatures, Kustom Kars & Corvettes,” as well as the East Side Rat Reunion in August. 

The museum exhibit, which will include a variety of Roth artwork and several custom cars, has been co-curated by Tom Peters, recently retired director of exterior design for a succession of Chevrolet Corvettes, production cars and concepts.

‘Big Daddy’ drawing has Rat Fink driving a Corvette

“Ed Roth was one of Tom’s biggest artistic influences growing up,” Bob Bubnis, the museum’s historical media coordinator and lead curator for the “Big Daddy” exhibit, is quoted in the museum’s announcement.

“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,” Bubnis continued. “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.”

The exhibit will include a re-creation of Roth’s garage with vehicles including the Orbitron, Mysterion, Orchid, Bubble Ray and Tweedy Pie on display, as well as Roth’s personal truck he used for his pinstriping business. There will be vintage toys and T-shirts and model kits.

The exhibit also will include a re-creation of Peters’ design studio at the GM Tech Center and a display of the Corvettes he created.

“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. 

“I can see grandparents bringing their grandchildren 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.”

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The East Side Rat Reunion is being organized by Roth’s widow, Ilene Roth, who also is providing many of the artifacts for the exhibition. The reunion is scheduled for August 20-22.

Group planning Jeep museum in Toledo

More than 1,400 Jeep vehicles paraded through downtown Toledo during Jeep Fest 2019 | Jeep Fest photo

The Toledo Blade newspaper reports that a working group has organized with a goal of opening The Jeep Experience museum in 2022 in the Ohio city where the vehicles are produced. 

The report says the museum will be modeled after the National Corvette and Harley-Davidson museums, will be located in a 56,000 square foot building, will include an off-road driving area, and is part of a larger Toledo 22nd century revitalization effort.

“The history of Jeep is so embedded in our community,” Robin Whitney, an executive of ProMedica, a major area health care provider, told the newspaper, “so you think about World War II and the importance of the Jeep, you think about all of the manufacturing expertise, you think about the labor force and how it’s really shaped our communities and how all that can really be reflected in the experiences.”

Among the working group members is Jerry Huber, former Jeep plant manager and chairman of Toledo’s annual Jeep Fest.

Beaulieu wins funding for Golden Arrow project

Golden Arrow displayed at Beaulieu | Museum photo

The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England, was been awarded an Arts Council England grant to enhance its display of the 1929 Golden Arrow, the Art Deco-designed vehicle in which Henry Segrave set a land speed record of 231.36 mph.

With the grant, by March 2022 the Golden Arrow and other speed-record vehicles at the museum will be showcased in a new display featuring computer-generated augmented reality as well as additional historic artifacts, and with an emphasis on visiting students’ involvement with science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.  

Simeone sets 2020 Demo Days schedule

Demo Days are held on selected Saturdays at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, where the museum showcases selected vehicles from its collection for walk-around discussion and for engine-revving, wheel-turning action in one of the museum’s parking lots.

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The scheduled for 2020 starts January 25 with “Best of Britain” featuring a Bentley 3-liter, an MG K3, Aston Martin LM and Jaguar C-type, and ends November 28 with “The Spirit of Competition” featuring a variety of racing machines.

Other Demo Day themes for 2020 include “How to Make a Small Fortune in Cars,” “Celebrity Cars,” “Le Mans 1959,” “Sir Stirling Moss, The Champion That Wasn’t,” and “The Car Detective.” 

To see the complete schedule, visit the museum website.

Gilmore shares 2020 car show calendar

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, not only showcases its collection in historic red barns and in vintage dealership-style buildings, but has acres of space for a variety of outdoor car shows. In 2020, those shows begin May 15-17 with the Congress of Motorcars for pre-1942 vehicles and run through the Cadillac-LaSalle Club Fall Festival on September 25-26.

In between are events including an all-GM show, a vintage motorcycle weekend, an air-cooled gathering, Oldsmobiles and Orphans, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, the Red Barns Spectacular and more. For the full scheduled, visit the museum website.

Historic Lotus on display at Revs/Collier

This Lotus Type 49 won 1967 U.S. Grand Prix | Collier Collection photo

With its 1967 Gurney Eagle-Weslake Formula One car on loan to the Phoenix Art Museum for the Legends of Speed exhibition, the Revs Institute/Collier Collection in Naples, Florida, is showcasing a Lotus Type 49 that it has obtained on loan through February 2020.

The Type 49 was driven by Jim Clark to a debut victory in the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix and also won the British and U.S. races that season. 

Varner next chairman at Petersen

Richard Varner, treasurer of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles since 2013, car collector, businessman and founder of MotoAmerica, will become chairman in January 2020, the museum announced. Long-time chairman Peter Mullin will become vice chairman. 

Special events this weekend

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, hosts its monthly car show December 21 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, features Vladimir Cettl’s photography book, Abandoned Cold War Aircraft, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on December 21.

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island will offer a “hoods up” weekend December 21-22 with engines on more than 75 cars exposed for viewing.

Mark your calendar

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida, hosts speed-record holder Danny Thompson from 6 to 8 p.m. on December 28.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon hosts the Historic Rally Car Register’s Open Day on January 11, 2020, as the HRCR celebrates the 60th anniversary of the RAC’s first use of forest stages. The day at the museum will showcase “how that diversification has led to a full and multi-disciplined sport today” and will feature rally co-driver Mike Broad in a series of forums covering the various aspects of rallying.

January 26, 2020, will be a Family Sunday at the BMW Museum in Germany, where from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. the museum becomes a MakerSpace with families learning about 3D printing and with children 8-and-older printing 3D pens.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts its annual Pint with the Past fund-raising gala on February 15 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California, plans at Grand Re-opening Party for February 22 to celebrate its new location.

The Mustang Owner’s Museum near Charlotte, North Carolina, is making plans for National Mustang Day with several days of activities, including a test and tune on April 16, 2020, at Mooresville Dragway; a driver’s choice cruise to various NASCAR race shops or to a winery, distillery and brewery before the Mustang Hall of Fame induction on April 17; a “day at the museum” program on April 18; a cruise to Mustang specialist Innovative Performance Technologies on April 19.

The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, re-opens its Performance Gallery on April 22, 2020. The gallery closed on November 20 for “a much-needed refresh.” 

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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