Kustom Kulture II

Text and Photos by Bob Ryder

In 1993, the Laguna Art Museum hosted the inaugural Kustom Kulture art exhibit, which included famous custom car culture artists like Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Robert Williams and many others. Many say that American custom car culture began in Southern California when creative car enthusiasts and artists branded the lifestyle. These pioneers blazed the trail of the culture we know today.

 

George Barris’ Munster Koach was also on display. The Kocach was daily transportation for TV’s Munster family: Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marilyn. A Ford 289-ci V-8 engine powers the Koach, and the exterior was constructed using three Model T bodies. It’s 18 feet long with a 133-inch frame.

C.R. Stecyk, Paul Frank, Greg Escalante, John Paul Olson, Don “Ed” Hardy and Rick Griffin had the vision to bring back the exhibit with Kustom Kulture II as a tribute two decades later. The ideal venue was the Huntington Beach Art Center in Huntington Beach “Surf City U.S.A.,” California. The tribute was a mix of the SoCal custom car, motorcycle and surf cultures. Kustom Kulture II displayed the work of 73 of the world’s top car culture lifestyle artists, like the late Big Daddy Roth, Robert Williams and Rick Griffin.

 

Custom car and surf art pieces were displayed throughout the gallery.

 

 

Jason Maloney, a former Disney muralist, contributed his infamous shark-bite surfboard above Sandow Birk’s “Drive-by” velvet painting.

As Kustom Kulture II visitors entered the Huntington Beach Art Center, located on Main Street in Surf City U.S.A., they were greeted by the late Big Daddy Roth’s famous little Surfite vehicle and Tiki Hut. Big Daddy was an artist, cartoonist, pinstriper and custom car designer and builder who created the hot rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters. Surfite and Tiki Hut were created by Revell as a plastic 1:25-scale model kit. Roth was a key figure in the SoCal Kustom Kulture and hot rod movement of the late ’50s and ’60s.

 

Japanese artist Makoto Kobayashi Von Dutch-style piece definitely captures the essence of Kustom Kar Kulture.

 

This beautiful, hand-sculpted piece by Jeff Decker, “Flash,” depicts the Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle. Rollie Free’s unique riding style allowed him to set the U.S. Maximum Speed Record for a motorcycle at 150.313 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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