The History of the "Orbitron"

By Moldy Marvin

Please be patient and allow this page to download cuz it's heavily laydened with fotos you don't want'a miss!


So what exactly is an Orbitron?

Some say it is a small ball-shaped robot from the animated TV show “Captain Simian & the Space Monkeys.” The Orbitron was given to Captain Charlie, the chimp, to help him on his mission through outer space. The TV show debuted in 1996 and was short lived after only 26 episodes in 1997.

Nope… that’s not it….

Others say it is an amusement ride for kiddies!

There are two that I can think of one is located in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris




and the other at Disneyland Hong Kong, but those attractions were just built within the last decade.


We are all familiar with the meaning of Orbit, simply put, to revolve around something that is located in the center.

Just recently the definition of Orbitron has been adapted from the Encarta World English dictionary as:

-tron suffix. a device for manipulating atoms or subatomic particles, accelerator.

Orbital /áwrbit'l/ noun. (Phys) Space in an atom occupied by an electron. A subdivision of the available space within an atom for an electron to orbit the nucleus. an atom has many orbitals, each of which has a fixed size and shape and can hold up to two electrons.

Hmm that’s not it either!


This story is not only about the history of the Orbitron but it is about Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s genius. I think that most will agree that Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s way of thinking was way before his time! The Orbitron if anything has tested that time and it is about time that the Orbitron and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth get the recognition that they deserve, after all, Ed built the Orbitron back in 1964!

So what’s in a name?

Just recently in a phone conversation with Roth Artist, Ed “Newt” Newton I asked him if he knew how Ed came up with the name Orbitron. Newt stated that he really didn’t know because Ed had already started working on the Orbitron and already named the car. However he thinks that Ed may have gotten the idea for the name from the cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator that was invented back in 1929.
After Ed graduated high school in 1949, he went on to college majoring in engineering and physics. Ed was fascinated with gadgets, widgets and the magic of electromagnetic light energy, he loved tinkering with things especially those things that were baffling. Ed did pretty well in college however the engineering and physics bored Ed because he felt that they just didn’t have anything to do with cars. Little did he know that later on in his career he would be applying some of the stuff that he learned into his designs. 

Newt also mentioned that Ed might have come up with the name during a BS session with his cronies Chuck and Lou who used to frequent the shop during that period of time. Another reason could be that Ed had already gone through his bad guy names with the "Outlaw", the "Beatnik Bandit" and the "Road Agent" it could have been that he was in this futuristic mode, naming the "Rotar" and the "Mysterion" so the "Orbitron" would be a natural.  

Either way, Ed would have never given away his secret of how he came up with the name, all we know is that the Orbitron was what he called it. Back in 1964 there were only a handful of people that had the vision Ed did and the unfortunate thing is the folks just didn’t get it!

Author writer Tom Wolfe got it and he got it bad! In 1965 Wolfe wrote a book of 22 essays titled 

"The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

This book revolutionized modern journalism as we know it today. In one of the essays Wolfe writes about the custom car culture during that period and centers it on Ed Roth, and George Barris, who had a completely different philosophies when it came to customizing cars. It may be assumed that the “Baby” Wolf refers to is the Orbitron as having asymmetrical body styling and headlight made from three lenses - red, green, and blue - that, when focused together, cast a beam of white light.


Photo courtesy of Darrell Zipp Hot Rods "by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

“At about the same time, 1964 or so, I got this brilliant idea to make this car with three big headlights so that when the three primary colored lights hit on the road, they would be a white beam.” ~ Ed Roth Quote- Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy” by  Thacker & Roth (1995) 

The principal of additive color mixing for white light theory is an elementary study, it had been used for decades in  theatrical lighting, even the invention of bulky CRT’s for the concept of color TV date back as far as 1922 so this was nothing new to someone who took physics. It wasn’t until 1961 with the introduction of commercial color TV and the premier of “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color” that turned the general public on to this perplexing phenomena. 

photo courtesy of

The computer monitor you’re sitting in front of still uses the same theory... See the white box? Well there you have it!

By 1964 Color TV was all the rage so it would be a natural for Ed to use the technology in his design.  He also had a small  TV that he installed in the center console, however I don't think it was color because as I remember the color TV's back then were pretty big and bulky.

“If Ed tells you to put a red, a blue, and a green light there, you better do it.” ~Dirty Doug Quote- “Ed “Big Daddy”Roth  His Life, Times, Cars, and Art” by Pat Ganahl (2003)

Dirty Doug stands next to the Orbitron at a car show Photo Courtesy of Dirty Doug from Hot Rods "by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

Dirty Doug and Dick Cook assisted in building the Orbiton and Ed openly admitted it. 

Back in the 60’s Ed was a really busy guy, I remember having a lengthy discussion with Ed prior to his passing when he proclaimed that if it weren’t for having guys around like Dirty Doug, Dick Cook, Jim “Jake” Jacobs and others to include a host of artists like Ed “Newt” Newton and Robert Williams that nothing would have gotten done and he credited a lot of his success because of that fact which was contrary to what had been written about Ed in the past.

The Build:

Ed was pretty darned resourceful when it came to building his vehicles. The spaceship shaped dragster included; a hand made 2x4-inch rectangular tube frame, the front of the frame has a home made a four bar set up with a cross leaf spring on a suicide perch, she’s got V8-60 tube axles and Buick finned drums with Lincoln front brakes. The rear end is a ’55 or ’56, mounted above the frame, suspended on Morris Minor torsion bars, located by tie rod four-bars which about a foot long. Everything was chrome plated by Model Plating in Bell Gardens , which believe it or not, is still in business today.


Photo Courtsy Griff Borgeson "Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth Thacker roth (1995)

The Mill came out of Ed’s 55’ Chevy, it is said that it was a 283. Ed added a tri power set up with three carbs that are said to be 97’s and Corvette valve covers. She’s also got a Powerglide transmission that could have come out of Ed’s 55.

“Seems like I used the engine from my ’55 Chevy—it was layin’ around so I used it.  I also used a straight front axle and a stock width axle for the rear.”  ~ Ed Roth Quote- Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy” by Roth- Thacker Roth (1995)

Ed's 1955 Tangerine Chevy was his daily driver. When he took the mill out of it for the Orbitron he put a Ford 390 and a C-4 automatic in it that was one of several donated from Ford for the Mysterion project.  It had a fiberglass nose an Edelbrock hood scoop, with radiuses rear wheel wells and cheater slicks mounted on Astro wheels. 

Photograph by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)


In the early photos the Mill was chromed, polished and painted blue,


however when you look at the most recent photos the block is red, all of the chrome is there along with the Corvette valve covers but there is only one carb. marked as a 97 in the trio, I think the other two may be Holly 94’s, so what gives? Could it be that Ed changed some stuff prior to selling her or that one of her other owners did some swapping.

The Orbitron road on narrowband whitewalls with cheater slicks in the rear, all of her rubber is mounted on deep dish slotted Astros that have Cal Custom simulated knock offs.




The driver’s compartment was placed at the rear of the vehicle, with the driver sitting behind the rear wheels, similar to a slingshot dragster the interior was very simple but modern in design with a Cragar steering wheel (still there) hooked up to a ’40 Ford steering box, a Dixco tach on the column, a pair of Stewart Warner gauges (mounted in the center console), a Hurst shifter surrounded by a rubber boot that hid the trap to exposed the trans linkage, a Moon gas pedal (still there), and a TV mounted in the center console.



Photo Darrell Zipp Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)


I’ve heard say that the monkey fur was light blue or even white however there are remnants of the fur still in the car and it is a dark blue. The seat was a bench type with a simple tuck and roll.

It is said that it only took Ed a few months to build the Orbitron however several of Ed’s vehicles overlapped each other in their construction so when it came to the design and construction of the Orbitron it may be assumed that Ed already had the Orbitron underway by the time he finished up the Road Agent. The Surfite was in there somewhere too because the construction of the Surfite overlapped with both the Orbitron and the construction of the Wishbone. 

Check out this photograph of the Orbitron's frame and running gear now look way into the background you can see the Orbitron's body to the left  (I had to lighten the image in the oval area just so you could see it and in doing so I noticed a familiar shape to the right behind the pile of junk around the corner.  Could it be the beginnings of the Surfite?) Wish I had the original photo. 

I think that this may be a good question for Ed "Newt" Newton because he supplied the photo for Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker-Roth (1995)

Side Note: (02/20/08) I spoke with Bob Path this afternoon who was in the new products department for Revell from the middle of 1963 through 1969. All of Ed's kits were his responsibility and he spent a lot of time at Ed's shop. Bob said that the construction of the Surfite spanned over several projects. When ever Ed had leftover plaster from his other projects they would go over to the Surfite and slap the mixture of plaster and vermiculite onto the Surfite for its construction. He also said that it is very likely that could be the Surfite jammed in to corner in the photograph above.  Bob's comments can be found in the comments section at the end of this artical.

When it came to it initial design of a car Ed would pretty much have something in his head, start with a plaster mess and go from there, as Ed would say” Big Mess, Big Success”, another famous quote of Ed’s would be would be " I build the Car First then make a Drawing, are You Paying Attention Detroit ? " so as far conceptual drawings of  Ed’s cars, usually it was done during construction by guys like Joe Henning and Ed “Newt” Newton. This would allow Ed to take a second look at where he was headed with the design and make any modifications from there.


Early Sketch of the Orbitron by Ed "Newt" Newton / Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, His Life, Times, Cars, and Art Pat Ganahl (2003) 



Master Lay Out for Post Card drawing by "Newt" / From Roth Archive / Darryl Roth 

Note: Somewhere I heard that there was a concept that the front fenders would move independently with the front wheels similar to a motorcycle, look closely at the drawing.


Ed had hired Ed “Newt” Newton around the time he was building the "Orbitron", I had a recent phone conversation with Newt and he stated that Ed was well under way with the project by the time he came on board and that the drawings that he did were pretty much based on what Ed had already done with only a few exceptions like the pods that were similar to the "Road Agent".

Ed was the bottom line so it was his decision on how the vehicle was finished. It has been thought that maybe the Orbitron may have been more successful if Ed might of added some of the features that "Newt" put into his drawings.

“There were always a lot of people coming around the shop like bikers, hot rodders, show promoters, and designer like Joe Henning and Ed Newton, all making deals and putting in their own two cents worth.  Yet it was up to BDR to make the final decision as to what the public wanted to see.  Sometimes the changes that we made in the plaster were ridiculous.  I’d have to plaster cast almost ready for the fiberglass cover and he’d come along and chop off a whole section that had taken me weeks to perfect.”

"After he’d chopped off the section that offended his eye, with this old, beat-up keyhole saw his dad gave him, he’d stick in several metal coat hangers and start rebuilding to his new vision.  Then he’d call in Newt’ or one of the other picture drawers and have them make a nice drawing of what he had so that he could get it to the car show promoters for some advance publicity.

~Dirty Doug Quote- Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy” by Roth- Thacker (1995)

Dirty Doug smoothing out  the body of the Orbitron / Photo Griff Borgeson/ Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

Once Ed was finished with the plaster buck Dirty Doug would cover the plaster with three or four layers fiberglass cloth and resin and then turn the body over and knock out the plaster, after that Doug would sand and prep the glass body in black primer and then thoroughly mask everything that was not to be painted.

Watson painting the Orbitron in Pearl

Photos from the Watson Archive / Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, His Life, Times, Cars, and Art Pat Ganahl (2003) 


Watson Pinstriping the Orbitron for his own photo archive, Larry removed his handy work prior to delivery. Watson also painted the Lucas 576 SFT lamps  with candy.




Larry Watson painted the car twice. The first time in a candy blue over white pearl, the car was only shown once and got scratched in transport so Ed had Larry paint it again only this time Larry painted it with his secret formulation of a gold Murano with blue.



Orbitron at Watson's shop in the Pearl Blue

Photo from the Watson Archive / Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, His Life, Times, Cars, and Art Pat Ganahl (2003) 

What is left of the Pearl can still be found under what seems to be a black primer on the Orbitron.

Side Note: Just recently I spoke with Larry and he is up to assist in the restoration of the Orbitron and still has his secret formula filed in his archive under Roth, Gene Winfield has offered up his paint booth for the project and there are a couple of well known painters that are being considered for the job. Now wouldn’t that be something?
A little humor regarding the Headlights; if for any reason the lights and the theory would have failed in the Orbitron it would have been the bullet headlights which were Lucas 576 SFT lamps. Lucas Industries was a famous manufacturer of components for the automotive and aerospace industry that was based in Birmingham, England. This particular lamp style was very popular in the late 50’s through the late 60’s and were used by Jaguar, Rolls Royce and Austin to name a few. Lucas marketed its early headlights under the brand name "King of the Road" However it seems that because of electrical problems that were commonly found in Lucas equipped vehicles that the founder of Lucas earned the Name “The Prince of Darkness”!
There were a couple of plastics houses where Ed would have his bubble tops blown, one was Ray Plastics which is still in business today and the other Acry Plastics who blew the bubble top for the Orbitron.


Check out the photograph to the right, in the background you can clearly see Ed’s 55’ that donated the mill for the Orbitron, now check out what is setting on its side next to the sign poll. Could that be the form for the Orbitron’s bubble top? Hmmm interesting…

Photograph by George the "Bushmaster" Schreiber Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

The Bubble was one of pretty good size measuring almost 64” from front to back and a little over 57” from left to right it had to have been at least 18-20” tall so Ed could fit under it. Ed built the Orbitron to be driven and unlike some of his other cars he made this one large enough so he could drive it comfortably.
In the photograph to the right you can clearly see a row 6 dots. These dots are momentary Door Bell switches that ran to a series of relays located in a compartment right next to them. The relays would do everything from actuating the bubble, starting  the mill, the headlights and other features.

Photo of the electronics still in the car today


Photo from the Watson Archive / Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, His Life, Times, Cars, and Art Pat Ganahl (2003) 




Now you see it now you don’t or Here today gone tomorrow, the cliché’s of change

Early Sketch of the Orbitron by Ed "Newt" Newton Titled "The OrbitGone"  Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

Who would have thought back then that it would end up missing for so many years.

In September of 1964 the Orbitron made its début, hit some car shows and was featured in the September 1964 Car Craft magazine.

Unfortunately the Orbitron didn’t do so well. Why?

First of all I don’t think that Car Craft did a very good job at introducing the vehicle and it was the only publication that I know of that publicized the debut of car, I can’t even say that ya could call it an article, the thing was only two pages with some photographs that had a few captions; maybe if it got top billing like some of Ed’s other vehicles it would have done a lot better.

Ed chalked it up to several reasons, one of which was by putting a hood over the chromed mill.

The “Orbitron” was a failure at the shows.  I believe it was because we covered that shiny chrome Chevy engine up with a hood.  It was a great lesson in design for me.  Never cover up the engine unless ya can serve a worthy purpose. .

I shoulda named it the Titanic because it was like tryin’ to hold onto this giant sinkin’ ship.  All the there cars I’d built went over big at the shows.  I had a formula but I didn’t have the brains to figure it out then.    I do now but I ain’t gonna tell you.

~ Ed Roth Quote- Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy” by Roth- Thacker Roth (1995)

You can see in the photo to the right that the engine compartment wasn’t really very attractive so opening the hood to show off the mill wouldn't have done the car any justice, so it was left closed.

Photograph by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth / Thacker & Roth (1995)

Ed’s vehicles in model kit form were big sellers with Revell but again I don’t think that it necessarily had anything to do with the Orbitron itself. Revell’s model sales had dropped dramatically while Slot Car sales were on the rise; this along with peoples taste in entertainment and the 60’s Cultural Revolution proved that times were a changing.


“I can remember it was 1964 because Revell was houndin’ me for more cars to make models of and & was humpin’ my booty to get it over to Revell’s HQ in Santa Monica, Calif., for them to measure when The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and all model sales stopped.  Guys got guitars instead o’ cars.  Revell’s sales fell off so bad that they almost went bust.  The monster kits stopped too!  It was the end of the model scene and the end of those big royalty checks. I sold the Orbitron to some dude in Texas

 ~ Ed Roth Quote- Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy”Roth / Roth- Thacker (1995)


The only model kit in existence is a resin kit by Hendrix, these were produced much later on and we currently carry them in our Stuff Store. The body will go over just about any modified 1:25th scale model chassis.


The two kits above were bashed together by Chris Walker of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Chris is well known for his custom building, prototyping, and package design for the diecast toy automotive industry.

Some folks say that Ed hated the car from the beginning, but this writer thinks a bit differently, I believe that any kind of animosity for the vehicle came later on because if Ed truly believed that the car was a mistake in the beginning then he would have never finished it and it would of ended up on his scrap heap.

I remember an in depth decision with Ed several years back; he told me that, “We all have to be prepared for change and that change is good and that if one is creative and diversified enough and uses his God given talents to do so then things will always work out”

The way I look at it, is that the failure of the Orbitron didn’t mean that Ed was dead in the water his t-shirt sales were still doing good and there were still several projects in construction. This little upset could have been preparing Ed for a new chapter in his life.

They say that there is a reason for everything and if not for the failure of the Orbitron and the Wishbone (a whole different story) Ed might not have diversified the way he did. With this in mind, Ed was headed for a big change and by 1967 Roth Studios took a 360 degree turn, influencing the motorcycle industry with “Choppers Magazine”. This change most defiantly had an impact on the industry and our culture as we knew it back then and as we know it today. 

Oh where oh where has the Orbitron been?

On August 27th of last year I was contacted by Michael Lightbourn out of El Paso Texas who found the Orbitron in Mexico , he asked if I could help put together a build list of materials and team who could restore the car. It was at that time when I posted the news on the internet and started the tedious regiment of research in order to get as much information on the car to include a chronological time line of its whereabouts and its owners.

 Michael Lightbourn

Back in 1999 I came up with the idea of making a list of Ed’s vehicles and their whereabouts so that they could be tracked for future articles on and called upon for display purposes.  One thing I learned is that Ed wasn’t so hip to the fact that most of his vehicles that were once donated to museums were now in the hands of private collectors. As time went on the list became pretty complete and with all of the recent activity the list has changed many times since then, but there still was the question about the Orbitron.

It has not only been quoted in a couple of Roth books but I remember Ed claiming that he had sold it to some dude in Texas believing that he was a doctor or a dentist or something. I’m figuring that Ed may have had his stories mixed up because in a photo caption from “Hot Rods by “Big Daddy” Roth, Ed stated that Mike Lowe of El Paso, Texas, bought the car in 1973 and drove it to school.

Roth aficionado and collector Mark Moriarity had helped me with this list so I thought I’d give him a call and this is what I found out.

Back in 1967 Darryl Starbird called Ed to ask if he could lease the Orbitron for his own car show circuit, and Ed said, “I’ll just sell it to you for the lease price.”  I confirmed this with a call to Starbird’s Shop and I guess that Ed sold it to Starbird for $ 750.00 the unfortunate thing is that Darryl forgot who he had sold or traded it to.

We can only assume that this might have been when the car went to Mike Lowe of El Paso , Texas.

While I was researching the Orbitron’s travels I gave photographer and writer Pat Ganahl a call and tipped him off on the find, I was looking for more photographs and information on the car for reference. Pat immediately put HRM photographer and correspondent Jerry Heasley on the case, Michael Lightbourn was also doing some local investigation because it seemed that the Orbitron had been cited several times throughout its history in the El Paso area.

Some of Lightbourn’s friends remembered seeing the car in its original condition from around 1972 to 1975 parked on a street with a For Sale Sign in the bubble. The Car was then owned by a local attorney named Sid Abraham and a bail bondsman named Victor Apodaca.  During Lightbourn’s investigation they couldn’t remember exactly how they got the car other than possibly for a partial payment for defense in a criminal case.

(Side Note:  Victor Apodaca had put an ad in the August 1968 edition of  Hot Rod Magazine you can click here to get a look at it)

The attorneys had no buyers at the time however Abraham’s Brother Eddie and his nephew, John Attel, took an interest the car knowing about Roth and his show cars.  John tried driving it to school, but the car didn’t run all that good, (most likely because it sat around for so many years) there was one time when he got stuck inside the car for over an hour and they had to break the bubble to get him out and the car was up for sale once again. (So that’s what happened to the bubble)

Side Note: Around 1997-98 Mark Moriarity placed an ad in a Texas publication because it was rumored the car had been sighted. Mark got a couple of responses one of which said that he had seen the car in 1973 at a show and the nose had already been removed at that time! We now know that the person who responded to Mark’s ad must have had his dates messed up because this rumor is incorrect from what we’ve learned so far.

The Orbitron remained unsold for years with only one interested buyer who thought it might make for an interesting salad bar which didn’t happen. The car was finely sold to a couple of guys from Mexico who planned on using it in a carnival. No one really knows what happened to the nose at this point, it might be assumed that the nose came off of the car at that time. It has been rumored that the nose may be hanging in a bar being used as a lighting fixture somewhere near uncharted Mexico . But then that’s only a rumor.

We do know this, that the Orbitron was used in a Mexican carnival as a mode of transportation until 1991 when it was willed to one of the owner’s nephews after passing away. The nephew owned the adult book store in Juarez Mexico where it sat in front of store ever since. The car was almost unidentifiable and was being used as a trash receptacle amongst other things.

Then along came Michael Lightbourn who restores cars for the elite down in Mexico and found the Orbitron sitting in front of the bookstore. Michael recognized the car and had been hounding the family for over a year in regard to the sale of the car. The owners of the book store didn't want to sell the car because of sentimental reasons.

The owner of the book store believed that his uncle had actually built the car but the only thing that the uncle had done to the car was to cut off the nose of the vehicle to show all of the chrome work that was hidden and put a radiator in it to drive it around the carnival grounds.

Michael convinced the owner of the book store that he was familiar with his uncles car, and if he had sentimental feelings for the car, then why was it that he was allowing people to use it as a trash can? It was at this time that Michael convinced the owner of the book store that he could restore it back to its original condition. The nephew finely let the car go and sold it Michael.

Now all Michael had to do was to get the car across the border.

Michael said that he had to grease the palms on the Mexican side and the Americans just laughed as he passed through the boarder because they felt that it wasn't even worth sending back!

Once Michael got the Orbitron home he had contacted me, he really wanted to give it a shot at having the car restored, that is when the news hit the streets, Michael sent me a boat load of photographs and gave me permission to send out an all points bulletin on the internet. So now the word was out!

It was unsure at the time whether the car would be restored in El Paso or bring it out here to So Cal or what; regardless I worked for several weeks putting together a restoration list and a concept team that could get the job done for Michael.

I contacted Mark Moriarity to see if he was interested in restoring the car. Mark would have been a natural, having owned and restored several of Ed’s vehicles throughout the years to include, the Rotar, the Road Agent, the Secret Weapon and the Globe Hopper, Mark also built the very first Outlaw clone and his own car the Futurian.  Mark made an offer to purchase the Orbitron and do it himself but couldn’t get the time off or make special arrangements to restore the car.

Mark Moriarity's Futurian

At the same time I also got a call from Dave Shuten who wanted to purchase the car but still Michael didn't want to sell and by Michael's request I wasn't giving out much information because he really didn't want to be bothered at the time.  Dave Shuten is known for the Mysterion Clone and His AstroSlead and will be Debuting the Restoration of Dan Woods / Ed Newton “Ice Truck” in March of 2008 at the Detroit Autorama, (Shuten will also be spearheading the Restoration of the Orbitron project)

Dave Shuten's AstroSled Paint by Fritz Photo 

Once the word was out and with all of the purchase offers, Michael became some what unsure on whether he would be better off selling the car figuring in how much it would cost and the time it would take to actually restore it in order to do it right.

Besides the offers from Mark and Dave, Michael was offered some really big bucks from two parties overseas, if anything both Michael and myself wanted to see the Orbitron stay here in the United States regardless of the selling price. 

Beau Boeckmann, President of Galpin Auto Sports is a long time friend of mine who has sponsored several of our Rat Fink parties here in Southern California . He also has a collection of not only Von Dutch items but a sizeable collection of Ed Roth’s creations to include the Rotar, the Globe Hopper, the Great Speckled Bird and even Ed’s old Honda; so I put Beau and Michael together to see if they could come up with some type of arrangement. After a couple of meetings and several phone calls Beau was able to negotiate a deal with Michael!

Part of the Beau Boeckmann Collection, you can see the Rotar  Restored by Mark Moriarity, The Rat Fink Chopper by Jimmy C

I am really very happy that Michael allowed Beau to purchase the car, first of all because I know that Beau has the integrity to get it done right and second because it means that the car is where it should be, back here in Southern California where She belongs.

The Beau Boeckmann Collection, The Globe Hopper  Restored by Mark Moriarity,

The Beau Boeckmann Collection, The Orbitron and Ed's Honda


The Beau Boeckmann Collection, The Great Speckled Bird, One of very few Roth vehicles in its original condition

From August until just recently I ended up doing a heck of a lot of research on the car, I found several of the vendors that Ed used in Southern California to include 2 of Ed's chrome guys and the company that produced some of the bubble tops for Ed back in the day. The unfortunate thing is that the plastics company is way to far advanced in what it is that they offer these days and the chrome shops may be just a little to old school for this day and age.
Jimmy C was on my list of people that could reproduce the nose if the nose couldn't be found and clean up the glass work and I naturally figured Jimmy would be willing to work on the car. Jimmy has been known for years for his hand work with fiberglass and his sculpting abilities. Jimmy made the new buck and carved the nose in order to make the molds for the recent release and sales of the Outlaw body clones that have been offered the past few years.

The Beau Boeckmann Collection Jimmy C Pinstriping the Rotar

There was also Fritz who at the time would be willing to come out to where ever and help out on the job and also do the paint; I figured that between the both of them they could make quick and accurate work of restoring the body.  Fritz is known for the creation of the Roswell Rod, the complete restoration of the Druid Princess and has done the finish work and paint for the Dave Shuten’s Mysterion Clone, the AstroSled and the Ice Truck.

Roswell Rod by Fritz

Larry Watson is willing to assist with the paint on his terms and as long as the products that are to be used are by his specification and Gene Winfield has offered his paint booth.

Larry Watson and yours truly in front of Watson's Roth Wall of Fame

The Dream Team:

Boeckmann’s choice for spearheading the restoration is Dave Shuten. Shuten had already started collecting parts for his own clone of the Orbitron and had made an offer to purchase the car in the first place. Shuten was also willing to take a leave of absence from his job in order to come out from Michigan to work on the project so it only makes sense that he be the one to do it.

Jimmy C will also be working on the project along with some of the advanced members of the Galpin Auto Sports Shop crew.

There is no doubt that this project will be a great success and the most rewarding thing to know is that the Orbitron is finely getting the attention and the respect that she and Ed Roth deserved so many years ago. 

I truly believe that the "Orbitron" will go down in history as one of Ed's greatest achievements in the history of custom car industry!

She was lost and now she is found!

So stay tunes as The Orbitron Saga Continues,


Moldy Marvin  


For Up-Dates and 

The Grand Finale Article

Go To The Rest-O-Ration Directory!


Bibliography and Credits:

“Big Daddy Roth’s Latest Dream Rod”  by Bud Long Car Craft Magazine (September 1964)

“The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” Tom Wolfe  (1965)

“Hot Rods by Ed “Big Daddy Roth”  by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth & Tony Thacker (1995)

“Ed “Big Daddy” Roth His Life, Times, Cars, and Art” by Pat Ganahl (2003)

“The Orbitron Saga” by Pat Ganahl and Jerry Heasley Hot Rod Magazine (March 2008) On News Stands Now!

“Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Orbitron Found!!” Moldy Marvin CK Deluxe Magazine (December 2007)

Photo credits from publications will be found in the captions.

Other Credits: Darryl Roth, Mark Moriarity, Michael Lightbourn, Larry Watson & Darryl Starbird

Additional Photo Credits:  Michael Lightbourn, Moldy Marvin


Comments and Points of Interest Section 


As a point of interest, I was in the new products department for Revell from the middle of 1963 through 1969. With the exception of the Outlaw, all of Ed's kits were my responsibility from written proposal to the finished product. These kits also included all of the "Monster Kits" from Mothers Worry thru Angel Fink and probably more, memory is a fleeting thing.

Sales at Revell were very strong up to the years around 1968. The phenom sales of the Outlaw, Road Agent, Tweedy Pie and the Mysterion were not enough to produce the Orbitron. Surfite barely made profit for Revell, probably because of its small size. Roth admitted to me that the Orbitron was doomed to failure because of the lack of visible chrome. I agreed with the cars potential and therefore did not push it as a potential kit. 

Ed had other builds that would have made viable kits, such as the Druid Princess, and the Mail Box. But, these were not to be in the Revell line-up because of the falling out of the Revell/Roth partnership. About this time, as your story pointed out, Ed was getting into the motorcycle world. Unfortunately, he also included some unsavory characters that were connected to 'This world". Revell, worried about the potential bad publicity, gave Ed the choice ...............the motorcycle crowd or his connection with Revell. His choice has to be very clear. He later commented to me that, when he realized what that meant to future projects and their royalty payments, he had chosen the "wrong path".

Being as how his opinions were paramount in any thing he did, working with him was not very easy, but, I wouldn't dream of ignoring my relationship that I had with him.

Bob Paeth

Last Update 02/20/08


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