Ironically Ed Newton was already doing work for Beau on another project. Dave Shutten, who recreated the Mysterion and is a walking encyclopedia of 1960s aftermarket component knowledge, oversaw the entire restoration. Living in Michigan was not a deterrent as Dave flew into LA for six- to eight-week blocks. Says Dave, "The biggest problems we had were finding the TV and the Cal Custom wheel spinners. I had Michael Lightborn make four copies of the one intact spinner we had, and we had the rear slicks made. The bubble ended up being the easiest part of the car-we found a movie studio supplier that made it in two hours."
All of the work was performed in-house by Galpin Auto Sports, which Boeckmann owns, and is an arm of his father's famous Ford dealership, Galpin Ford in Panorama City, California. Shutten was aided on the restoration by GAS's "Cooch," Adolph, and Mad Mike-who handled the wiring.
With Newt's blessing and scaling from pictures, the nose was recreated in foam by both Shutten and striper/artist Jimmy C, and then laid up in fiberglass. Shutten was able to find the six missing Lucas lights from a Jag restorer. Advance Plating handled over 2,700(!) chrome parts necessary to restore it the way Roth built it. Says Newt, "In the day Roth had some deal with Model Plating where he would do T-shirts in exchange for chrome-they did a lot of chrome for Ed."
The original frame was thin-wall plate, and that combined with deterioration necessitated replicating it in thicker material by "Cooch." The original '55 Chevy engine, trans, and rear were restored, as was the steering wheel. A NOS '40 Ford steering box replaced the rusted original. A NOS Foxcraft shifter and NOS rear wheels were also used.
When it came to paint, Larry Watson was called, but having retired years ago he turned to his former right-hand man, the person with him when he painted the Orbitron and a paint trailblazer himself, Bill Carter. Says Bill, "It was important to me that he thought I was the guy and that I could do it, and of course he was there while I mixed the paint. I was able to purchase some old gold murano which really helped to recreate the color. Today paint is really different than it was in 1964, but the toners in the base we used are still the same. The blue was off-the-shelf, which is unusual for me to use, but with that gold murano it came out almost exactly like the original color." In a final flourish Shutten laid down the white pinstripes.
The interior was created in the same two-stall garage by the same legendary upholsterer back in 1964: Joe Perez. Says Perez, "When that bubble went up I wanted people to just go 'WOW,' but as usual Ed was in a big fat hurry." History repeats as this time Beau was in a hurry, so Perez rushed to recreate what he rushed to finish over 40 years ago, including the furry material purchased in England. NOS green Stewart Warner gauges and restored Covico wheel by Shutten finished off the interior.
There have already been two "coming out" parties for the Orbitron, with generations of the Roth family, scores of 1960s custom and hot rod legends, and current fans there to admire and pay honor to the iconic hot rod and its builder and participants.
With Dave Shutten's recreation of the Mysterion and now the Orbitron restoration, all of Ed Roth's show cars exist either as originally created by Ed, or in painstaking restorations like the Beatnik Bandit, Road Agent, and Outlaw. Ed left an important legacy crowned by his show cars, and the fact they will live on for future generations to influence or just enjoy says a lot about him and the impact he had on this world. Here's to Big Daddy!
Rod & Custom Feature CarBeau BoeckmannVan Nuys, californiaEd "Big Daddy" Roth's orbitron