2017 Rat Fink Reunion

What is the Rat Fink Reunion?

Rat Fink was (and is) a counter culture cartoon character designed by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth who was a custom hot rod designer, builder and artist. The Rat Fink is a dark, rebellious character who symbolized that being different, “weird”, is not only okay, but cool. The movement and the symbol date back to the 1960s which was a time of great cultural change and upheaval in America and across the world. The reunion is simply a celebration of the life and creations of Ed Roth, and everything that the character Rat Fink represents. Please don’t take this character too seriously. At first glance, is quite a disgusting creature. But remember the symbolism. This is just about young people, and now older people, expressing their creative individuality through their vehicles.

This is Rat Fink. As you can see, he is not the “normal” cute cartoon rat. He is Ed Roth’s creation, and is copyrighted and owned by Ed Roth’s estate.

This cartoon character was a huge hit with teenagers of the day, and it can be compared with similar counterculture symbols of our time such as girls with pink hair, body piercings, and tattoos. It simply represents the fact that individuality and nonconformity are not bad, but are to be embraced and celebrated. Ed Roth’s manifestation of this concept of “different is good” was of course the hot rod.

In the later 1940s through the earlier 1960s hot rodding was considered to be quite rebellious, so the Rat Fink became the symbol of the movement. In his later years, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth moved to a small town in central Utah, Manti. The Rat Fink Reunion is hosted by his surviving family. The highlight of the festival is the annual car show in the park in Manti. The show draws participants from all over the United States, but the majority of the cars are from Utah. The show is a celebration of all things related to the automobile. It features vehicles of all genres from Model A’s to modern American muscle cars.

Of course, however, the stars of the show are the Rat Rods. Describing a Rat Rod is difficult because everyone is different. In general it is a vehicle that has been cobbled together from whatever parts were available and is generally left in a fairly decrepit external condition. Every one is different, and every one represents the creative soul of its builder. Sometimes these “junk heaps” end up being worth over six figures and feature incredible creative art and designs. Some of the engines have tens of thousands dollars worth of technology poured into them.

This car show is really a living history and cultural event. It’s much more than a car show as it features a live band, a broad array of music, a lot of vendors that are selling everything from Rat Fink accessories to car accessories to clothing and jewelry to many other unique personal items. There are always many great food vendors, and it’s impossible to walk around the show without developing a huge appetite. The Rat Fink Reunion is a living embodiment of the individualism that makes America so unique. The show is really just more of a party and celebration of America and our diversity which makes this country so great. Even if you’re not into cars, just sit down and listen to the music and enjoy the people watching. There’s just nothing like sitting in the shade under a big tree listening to great music with a nice cold drink.

So, if you didn’t make it, here is my photo tour of the 2017 Rat Fink Reunion. I hope you enjoy the show.

Rat 1
A pair of classic Rat Rods. Notice the detail in the owner’s presentation.
Rat 2
Some examples of Rat Rods.
Rat truck
Notice the detail in this vehicle. Every singe one is a totally unique expression of the creator.
Rat Fink Rod
This is one of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s custom hot rod creations. I do no know the original source of this photo. It was available on Google.
Purple truck
This is a high dollar restoration of a hot rodded Ford truck.
Orange Rod 2
Beautiful artwork on this car.
Orange Rod 1
This paint job and artwork are fantastic.
The crowd
It’s nice to see the younger generations getting interested in our history.
Rat Fink Mopar
Here is Rat Fink driving a ridiculous Dodge Challenger hot rod. Ed Roth designed this image, and I have it on a tee shirt.
Fuschia rod
Classic old school hot rod.
Classic Trailer
This classic 1950’s trailer is at the show every year. It is like stepping back in time.
Highly customized Willys Jeep CJ.
57 Ford
1957 Ford restored to in original showroom condition. These old cars were just art.
This is a Tiger import which features a classic British roadster body with a Ford V-8 engine. A beautiful restoration, and these cars were commonly known as the poor man’s Cobra.
Older VW’s. As you can see, all conditions go at this show.
50s Chevy red
Spectacular mid 50’s Chevy Bel Aire. This car has been upgraded considerably from stock.
440 Cuda
Early 1970’s Plymouth ‘Cuda with a 440 cubic inch V-8. This is pure classic American Muscle.

5 thoughts on “2017 Rat Fink Reunion

  1. Thanks Tim! I was department chair at City College San Francisco, Industrial Arts Department, for 31 years and specialized in teaching Auto. These shots are close to home! I’ve built a number of race and eclectic cars but if I would ever do it again…only in fantasy now…I’d build a Rat Car.

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    1. Yes! Not sure where you are at, but that car show is just a blast. Lot’s of old Rat Rods, bikes, classic muscle, great food and always great music — live. I just love that place. Thanks for reading.


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