Icons of Speed & Style

26 September 2009

Lot 258

1966 Ed Roth "Druid Princess"

To be auctioned on Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sold for $203,500

  • Chassis no. N/A
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Est. 325 hp, 383 cu. in. Dodge overhead valve V8 engine, three-speed automatic transmission, live axle front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with coil-over springs, two-wheel drum brakes.

The popularity of customs, hot rods and show cars spread quickly around the country in the Sixties borne on the pages of magazines like Rod & Custom, Hot Rod and myriad imitators. Popular media from beach blanket surf movies to national television recognized that including a hot rod or, better yet, an exclusive custom car broadened the appeal of their programming and gave it trendy immediacy. Rods and customs soon appeared both incidentally and as important bit part players.

The force in creating these themed vehicles was George Barris, the “King of the Kustomizers”. Ed Roth appreciated his commercial acumen while also being disdainful of it. He observed, “… whenever the studios’d call I’d always send ‘em over to Barris because he had that stage presence to sell those 500 buck jobs for five grand.”

As the Sixties advanced Roth’s interests broadened. Roth tee shirts were in such demand that he had to adopt standardized silk screened designs to keep up. Mail order supplanted sales at car shows where the Outlaw and Beatnik Bandit had drawn traffic. Revell’s royalties on Ed “Big Daddy” Roth customs – said to be only 2¢ per model – were a gusher of cash in the Sixties when Revell was selling them by the millions.

Roth looked ahead and saw the future in stable, fuel thrifty, simple and inexpensive three-wheelers. A few years later he took to driving a tiny Honda 600, another example of how Roth, unbound by conventional thinking, was years and even decades ahead of his time.

Eventually the producers of ABC-TV’s The Addams Family series came to Roth requesting a distinctive automobile for the ghoulish family to drive on television. He rose to the occasion with one last outlandish creation, Druid Princess.

In a departure from Roth’s practice, Druid Princess (named by Robert Williams – the Druid thing was big in those days) was a built up rod with plywood covered in fiberglass. Its design owed nothing to aerodynamics. It was all about style and faux elegance.

Built by Dan Woods and “Jake” Jacobs on a 2x4” rectangular steel tubing frame, Druid Princess had coil spring live axle suspension with drum brakes at the rear only. Power was supplied by a B-series Dodge 383 and a Torque-Flite automatic. Roth went to great lengths to include a 6-71 Jimmy blower with Hilborn injection system. It was a fake, hollowed out and covering up a Carter AFB four-barrel. Holes were drilled in the blower case to reach the carb adjustments but everything on the blower appeared to work, from the injector butterflies to the drive belts and pulleys. It just didn’t pump any air. White painted long head pipes joined up in large collectors with huge oval cutout covers, then disappeared into a conventional rear-exit exhaust system, chromed of course.

Its front axle mounted full size blackwall tires on chromed Cragar S/S wheels with similar Cragars at the rear. The suspension was chromed at both ends and giant canister-style chromed brass headlight housings, patterned after a 1909 REO, were mounted close together, low and in front of the axle center line. If something on Druid Princess wasn’t painted white it was chromed.

The coach-shaped center door body was built from plywood sheet. Plywood was also used to form the long, surfboard-shaped blade front blade fenders and their brief rear counterparts. The body was elaborately trimmed with complex decorative elements. Roth described how they came about in the book “Hot Rods by Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth” by Ed Roth and Tony Thacker (MBI, 2007, a delightful cross-section of Roth-iana and first-person recollections well worth the $25 MSRP and also the source of the earlier Roth quote.)

“Those deco pieces come from a picture frame manufacturer in Hollywood…. I went over to the guy’s shop & there was all these workers mixin’ up this mixture of horse hoof glue & sawdust into this real doughboy type guck. It smelled pretty good but tasted terrible. Then they’d pour it into these floral-shaped molds. Some looked like little angels & others like these real swirly flowers. … I knew they were right for the Druid Princess decoration. I got me a coupla sacks full for 25 bucks and went home & started cuttin’ and pastin’.”

Roth insisted that the small luggage trunk behind Druid Princess’s coach be a child-sized coffin – not just something that looked like a coffin but the real deal. That took some doing since undertakers didn’t sell coffins except to contain remains. Roth finally found the son of an undertaker who was hip. He brought $200 and a van to the back alley after working hours where lucre and casket changed hands. The battery and a surplus North American Aviation aircraft gas tank were interred in the sarcophagus. Larry Watson veiled the Druid Princess in purple – a unique process that produced a unique texture and pattern. The interior was upholstered with purple diamond tufted seats piped in white. The interior trim was white with purple piping. Purple velvet draperies with white tassels trimmed the windows.

Somewhere in the course of building Druid Princess ABC called with the news The Addams Family had been cancelled. Princess was completed as a show car and was featured on the cover of the January 1967 Rod & Custom before being dispatched on the show circuit. It was Roth’s last magazine cover car.

It was eventually found by Roth’s son Darryl and restored with its color scheme reversed to predominantly purple with white accents. The present owner acquired it in January 2006 and it was immediately sent to the Detroit Autorama to join the other featured Roth cars in that year’s show. In 2007 the owner commissioned Fritz Schenck to conduct a complete frame-off restoration, at which time it was returned to the original colors, including the complex veiled paint process.


It was selected as one of the lead cars in Rod & Custom’s reprise of “Fifty Years of Rod & Custom”. Roth, attired in the grey leggings, baggy pantaloons and frilly white shirt appropriate to a Druid Princess’s footman, is pictured with it in the lead shot.

It is Roth’s last show car. It would be two decades before he turned out his next sizable four-wheeled concept, L.A. Zoom in 1989. Saved by Darryl Roth, restored to show car condition and featured in magazines and the most important shows, its condition is impeccable. It is one of Roth’s most recognizable show cars and marks a watershed in his unrelenting pursuit of advanced ideas, designs and whimsical creations.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is offered on a bill of sale only.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more