Rat Fink Revisited

For those of you who have been following me for awhile, you know that one of my hobbies is cars.  I love cars, especially good old American muscle.  Every June, I try to attend the annual Rat Fink Reunion car show that is held in the city park in Manti, Utah.

The Band
The show band for the Rat Fink Reunion.  Saturday they were playing a mix of classic rock and some classic country music.

Rather than spending time here explaining the Rat Fink thing, just go to that highlighted link.  However, what I would like to do today is to give you more of a background and cultural perspective on this car show.  To understand my fascination and love for this show, you must get an understanding of the central Utah culture and the corresponding Rat Fink counterculture.

Manti, Utah is a small rural community located in the central part of the state on Highway US 89 about 130 miles (209 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City. The town was founded by Mormon pioneers back in the later 1800s, and was primarily an agricultural hub. There is another small town a few miles north of Manti known as Ephraim that is home to a small rural Utah college, Snow College.

Manti Church
This LDS Chapel in downtown Manti was built in 1879.

This part of Utah is about as conservative as it can get with well over 90% of the population being Mormon, officially known as Latter Day Saints. This conservative church culture pervades all aspects of life in this part of the state. Rural Utah votes almost 100% Republican. In fact, a few years ago when my friends and I were at the Rat Fink Reunion show, we decided to catch some lunch at a place called the Malt Shop up in Ephraim. (The Malt Shop is an Ephraim icon with excellent burgers.) I made the mistake of trying to order an iced tea with my burger. This is the response that I got from the girl behind the counter, “Oh! We don’t serve that kind of drink here.”

Manti Victorian wp
Historic old home on US 89 in Manti

Now just think about that for a second, and you will begin to understand how incredibly conservative this part of Utah is. It’s not like I was trying to order a bourbon or a Long Island iced tea. So this show is a celebration of a counterculture movement that was started back in the later 1950s that is 100% contrary to almost everything else in this part of Utah. The founder of Rat Fink, Ed Roth, was by all other measures a total rebel. If you Google “Rat Fink” you will get a feel for the radical counterculture and artwork that was born through Ed Roth.

Rat Rod 2
This is quite an extravagant “Rat Rod” with the Rat Fink character perched on top of the roof.

So here’s this car show full of all kinds of funky characters and wild vehicle’s located smack in the middle of one of the most conservative areas of the United States. And the show is celebrating this total rebellious culture. One of the things that I love most about this car show is that it is such a complete contrast to where it’s held.

Manti Temple Reflection wp
This is the historic Manti LDS Temple on the north end of town on US 89

Manti is most famous for its Mormon Temple, constructed in the later 1800s. In fact, the town’s name, Manti, comes right out of the Latter Day Saints holy text, the Book of Mormon. And yet for one weekend in early June each year, the town transitions from its straight-laced, button-down demeanor to a wild party atmosphere featuring about as many colorful characters as you could find anywhere along with an incredibly diverse collection of classic vehicles. And at least for this one weekend, everyone seems to get along incredibly well.

Rat Rod 1
I classic “Rat Rod”

The whole show atmosphere is quite laid-back and friendly. Many folks, including many of the exhibitors, have their dogs with them. And those coolers under the shade canopies are not just full of water and soda pop. I wanted to include several photographs of the town and a couple of the Mormon Temple, so that you could get an idea about the culture of the area rather than just a bunch of photos of the vehicles in the show.

Now that you have a little better feel for what Manti all about, I hope you enjoy my little photo essay of the 2019 Rat Fink Reunion car show.

Manti Temple wp
Another view of this historic old building from a park across US 89
Correnti's Manti
One of the older buildings in downtown Manti
Downtown Manti
More vintage architecture in Manti

And now, here are some photos from the 2019 Rat Fink Reunion Car Show.  Have fun!

Dodge Cap Forward
This was one of my favorite vehicles at the show.  It is a 1960s cap forward Dodge pickup.
Rat Rod Engine
Check out the engine on this Rat Rod.  Some of these cars have 10s of thousands of dollars in engine and drive train work.
Vintage row
There was an entire row of early vintage autos this year.
Interior Details
This ’40s coupe was not only perfectly restored, but the owners went all out with ’40s decorations too.
40s Coupe
Here is the whole car.  What a nice display.
Food Court
A couple of kids with cotton candy, and folks waiting in line for the barbeque.  By the way, that barbeque is delicious!
This 1967 Volkswagen Beetle was perfectly restored.
Vette Hood
There were a few modern cars.  Look at the dragon this Corvette.
For Sale
Anyone looking for a sweet classic ’50s pickup?
The sign on this old truck really made be laugh.  “Keep on truckin’…” was a popular phrase in the 1970s.
440 Cuda
A 1970 ‘Cuda with a 440 6 pack engine!
1960s Pontiac GTO — the muscle car that started the horsepower wars of the 1960s.
Custom Cuda
A highly modified Plymouth ‘Cuda with over 1000 horsepower!
Cuda Engine
And here is her supercharger and air intake.
Red Coupe
Another classic ’40 coupe
Here’s my Hellcat Charger next to an old vintage Texaco station in Fairview, Utah on the way to Manti.
Hellcat Manti wp
The show was so busy this year that I has to park two blocks away on a residential road.

I really hope that you had as much fun with this story about the 2019 Rat Fink Reunion as I had being there.  Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog.