Icons of Speed & Style

26 September 2009

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Lot 258

1966 Ed Roth "Druid Princess"

Sold for $203,500

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.

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

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig


+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Florida, United States

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Gord Duff


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Ontario, Canada

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Jake Auerbach


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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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United Kingdom

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Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


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California, United States

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

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more