One of a Kind! 1957 Astro Sled Bubbletop

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This is a one-off, professionally built hot rod done as a tribute to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and other 1960s vintage show rods. Roth was well-known to hot rod enthusiasts as the hobby’s “most extreme beatnik” who made numerous contributions to car fabrication in this field. Available through May 22, 2021 here on Mecum at the JRW Western Exposure auction in Indianapolis, Indiana, this car has an estimated value between $90,000 and $125,000. Thanks, Larry D, for another “way out” find!

Outlandish looking hot rods were the order of the day in the 1960s. One of my favorites has been the DRAG-U-LA, a coffin-shaped dragster built by the famed George Barris for use in The Munsters TV show and movie. With its bubbletop, this Astro Sled has a space age look to it, which also fits right in with the ‘60s. Using some of the then-latest advancements in fiberglass and plastics fabrication, this build was completed by Dave Shuten using a variety of 1950s/1960s parts and themes. This car is something of a celebrity, having been featured in a 2007 issue of Rod and Custom (which, unfortunately, is no longer published).

Perhaps the most notable fabrication work that was done on this vehicle is its hand-crafted and gel-coated fiberglass body topped by a 48-inch-wide, 18-inch-tall round bubble top. While no mention is made regarding how cockpit occupants stay cool or warm, this thing looks like it could be an oven in the summer! The bubble is activated to open or close using convertible-top cylinders. The body wears a combination of House of Kolor White Pearl paint with Silver Kandy Blue fogging.

If you look closely, you’ll see where parts were borrowed from production automobiles to complete the ensemble. That includes taillights from a 1959 Cadillac, headlight bezels from a 1964 Ford Galaxie and decklid trim from a 1957 Lincoln Premier. The interior is finished all in white, with a custom seat where fluffy material is everywhere and it has a curved dash with functional gauges and the iconic t-handle Hurst shift top. The battery and fuel filler neck are tucked away in a small trunk.

This machine is powered by a 354 cubic Hemi V8 from a 1957 Chrysler and is paired with (no, not a TorqueFlite) a GM TH-350 automatic transmission. It’s all connected to a 1957 Chevy rear end. On top of the motor is a Weiand GMC-designed blower and eight Stromberg 97 carburetors. A quadrant of chromed exhaust trumpets can be found on both sides of the car.

If you’re anywhere near Indy between May 14-22, 2021 and have a hundred-thou or so to spare, maybe you could take this baby home with you. It’s not practical or useful in any way, but who cares. This is a one-of-a-kind machine that harkens back to the creative side of automotive design that permeated through the middle of the 20th Century!

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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320

    Barry Weiss from Storage Wars has a sweet bubble top that he drove on the show a few times. This is cool, but I bet this thing is hotter than the core of the sun under that bubble on a hot summer day.

    Like 9
    • Skorzeny

      Cool that you mention Barry. I’ve seen that car… I watch mainly to see how Barry makes his entrance, and what he does on the show. Neat guy, and apparently friends with Stewart Copeland, the drummer for The Police.

      Like 6
    • Jason

      Yeah, I’d imagine that it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes for the passenger compartment to become unbearably hot on a sunny day!

      Like 1
  2. alphasudMember

    This is a work of art. The visions this guy had to create something so radical. I can’t imagine how many hours invested to create this hot rod. As a technician I’m sure syncing and tuning 8 carbs took some patience. I wonder if he was looking up in the sky and said I wonder what a cloud made into a hot rod would look like?

    Like 11
    • MattR

      I can’t say it better alphasud. I must have scrolled through these photos 10 times already. The execution here is flawless.

      Like 5
  3. BlondeUXBMember

    Yup, Ed Roth made one.
    One was enough…

    Like 6
  4. Luki

    Last time I saw Ed Roth he was at Pomona Fairgrounds selling Rat Fink swag.

    Ed liked to do freehand lettering on commercial vehicles. He used to do my neighbor’s Roofing Company trucks.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      Some years ago I wrote his widow and asked her if he’d ever done a drawing of Rat Fink dressed as an astronaut, sticking up out of the cargo bay, rowing the gears on the space shuttle. She replied no, but he sure wanted to take a ride on one!

      Like 4
      • Rick Rothermel

        Met Ed a coupla times, was always shocked at how modest, quiet and mild-mannered he was, not what we expected from the hype around him in the 60s.

        Like 4
    • Norm

      I saw him here I Indiana a lot of times, he had a Lotus car that bearly pulled a small trailer. Always had traffic backed behind him. He always honked and waved. .

      Like 3
  5. gbvette62

    Big Daddy’s Beatnik Bandit is probably my favorite custom of all time, but other than maybe the Surfite (which was kind of cute, in a cool way, or cool in a cute way), it’s also the only Roth custom I ever really liked. The rest of his custom cars I always thought were just plain ugly, including this one. Now the “Monster Car-Toon” characters he created for his t-shirts, especially the Rat Fink, were all fun and fantastic, and must haves if you were a car crazy kid in the 60’s and early 70’s!

    Like 1
  6. Steveo

    When being the center of attention is worth $100k to you.

    Like 4
  7. RBCJr

    Would probably be the only one at the Cars and Coffee!

    Like 4
  8. John

    It’s tastefully outrageous!

    Like 2
  9. Howie Mueler

    This is super cool man, i knew Roth’s son who owned the Druid Princess. The estimate seems about right.

    Like 1
  10. Chinga-Trailer

    To me, this is sort of like buying a very expensive printed copy of the Mona Lisa . . . it’s obviously not the original, so what’s the point in spending real money on it?

    Like 0
  11. That Guy

    If I understand correctly, this isn’t a re-creation of an actual Roth car but an original design meant to emulate his style. That makes it all the more impressive to me. It really captures his essence magnificently. I have no desire to own it but I’m in awe of the builder and of whoever has the chutzpah to drive it around.

    Like 8
  12. Kenn

    “Obviously not the original”?? Where, then, is the original?

    Like 3
  13. chrlsful

    I B membah big daddy, asa child I used some lunch money to buy some hard rubber molded models. A car wid da guy’s body 3/4 out the roof, toung out/flappin, arm over his head (veins bulgin, eyes poppin) an “8ball shifter” in his hand, the pinkie extended…Than one all in pink, I painted multi color. Another same weird’n outragious probably some purple rubber like plastic. Also mine to paint and put on my book shelf. What did parents ever do w/these things. I never missed them but know they dissapeared, along w/Lionell trains, slot cars’n track, Rifleman 18 inch gun, coonskin cap with tail, 10 y/o’s chaps…

    a child of the 50’s, a teen in the 60s. Who would want to own this actual vehicle? What would they do with it?

    Like 1
  14. Wingnut


    Like 2
  15. 200mph

    This is an awesome build. I grew up in this era, and in this car I see a good bit of Ed Roth, some Bill Cushenbery, some Catallo brothers (little Deuce Coupe), and a touch of Dean Jeffries.

    I recall an interview with Ed Roth saying he molded those clear canopies in a large pizza shop oven.

    Like 1
  16. Kevin

    For a fun conversation piece, and for a parade or show,that’s about it, there’s no way you could safely “cruise “with even light traffic, too hot and no front brakes!

    Like 0
  17. Peter E. Brock

    These “creations” are not Hot Rods.

    Like 0
  18. Hotwheelsguy

    read in an old “Rod & Custom” magazine that it was painted by
    “Fritz Schenck” of “Spritz by Fritz” he has had his hands on a lot of “Roth” cars and clones

    Like 0

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