Archive for March 22nd, 2011

March 22, 2011

Von Dutch

flying eyeball

von dutch

Kenneth Robert Howard (1929 – 1992), also known as Von Dutch, was a motorcycle mechanic, artist, pinstriper, metal fabricator, knifemaker and gunsmith. His father, Wally Howard, was a Los Angeles sign painter, and by the age of ten Kenny was able to paint and letter at a professional level. Some of his famous works include the flying eyeball and a custom Kenford truck.

Among many custom car and motorcycle enthusiasts, he is thought of as one of the fathers of Kustom Kulture (an aesthetic born out of the hot rod culture of Southern California of the 1960s). Dutch’s lifelong alcoholism led to major medical issues later in life, and he died from alcohol related complications. His daughters sold the ‘Von Dutch’ name to Michael Cassel and Robert Vaughn, who used it to form a clothing brand.

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March 22, 2011

Kustom Kulture

bottrop kustom kulture 2012

Kustom Kulture is an an aesthetic and lifestyle born out of the hot rod culture of Southern California of the 1960s, associated with artists such as Kenny Howard (also known as Von Dutch), custom car builders such as ‘Big Daddy’ Ed Roth and Dean Jeffries, hot rod and lowrider customizers such as the Barris Brothers, along with numerous tattoo artists, automobile painters, and movies and television shows such as ‘American Graffiti,’ ‘Happy Days,’ ‘The Munsters’ and ‘The Monkees.’

Kustom Kulture is usually identified with the greasers of the 1950s, the drag racers of the 1960s, and the lowriders of the 1970s. Other subcultures that have had an influence on Kustom Kulture are the Skinheads, mods and rockers of the 1960s, the punks of the 1970s, metal and rockabilly music, the scooterboys of the 1980s, and psychobilly of the 1990s. Each has its own style, but common themes include wild pinstriped paintjobs, choptop Mercurys, custom Harley-Davidson and Triumph Motorcycles, metalflake and black primer paint jobs, and monster movies.

March 22, 2011



The Orbitron is a custom car built by Ed Roth and feared lost until its rediscovery in Mexico in 2007. Built in 1964, the vehicle was powered by a 1955 or 1956 Chevrolet V8 and was backed by a Powerglide automatic transmission. The body was hand-laid fiberglass which actually hid Roth’s extensive chrome work to the chassis.

The cockpit, set at the extreme rear of the vehicle in the manner of a dragster, was lined with fake fur and featured a General Electric portable television inserted in the console. Topping the cockpit was a custom-made, hydraulically operated plexiglass bubble top. One of a series of ordinary doorbell switches atop the hood activated the top from the outside.

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March 22, 2011

Big Daddy Ed Roth

Rat Fink

Big Daddy‘ Ed Roth (1932 – 2001) was an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon ‘Rat Fink.’ As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California’s Kustom Kulture and hot-rod movement of the 1960s. He grew up in Bell, California, attending Bell High School, where his classes included auto shop and art. Roth is best known for his grotesque caricatures — typified by Rat Fink — depicting imaginative, out-sized monstrosities driving representations of the hot rods that he and his contemporaries built.

Although Detroit native Stanley Mouse is credited with creating the so-called ‘Monster Hot Rod’ art form, Roth is the individual who popularized it. Roth is also well known for his innovative work in turning hot rodding from crude backyard engineering, where performance was the bottom line, into a refined art form where aesthetics were equally important, breaking new ground with fiberglass bodywork.

March 22, 2011

Biker Cross

The Biker Cross is a derivative of the Iron Cross (a Prussian, and later German, military decoration). Bikers started to display the Iron Cross in the mid 1960’s with the advent of outlaw biker gangs. Originally bikers displayed the Iron Cross as a symbol of rebellion to society in general.

Today it is also worn to signify honor, valor, strength and ‘standing up for what you believe.’ Hot rodders (American car customizers) and others also use it as a provocative gesture to offend the public, or as a symbol of rebellion or non-conformity.

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