Kenny Howard, aka Von Dutch, was a motorcycle mechanic, metal fabricator, artist, and, most notably, a ground-breaking pinstriper of hot rods and motorcycles from the 1950s until his passing in 1992. Along with Dean Jeffries and Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, he is considered a founder of the Kustom Kulture movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.
While working in Bud Ekins’ Triumph motorcycle shop in Los Angeles in 1961, Von Dutch hand-built several props for Hollywood productions. It is believed that this ‘Rocket Car’ was commissioned for a feature film, although no footage of it actually having been used has ever been found.
Beginning with an idea and a rare, undamaged 120 gallon belly tank from a USAF F-86 Sabre Jet fighter, Von Dutch skillfully crafted this ‘Rocket Car’ for two. No rockets were actually used; it is powered by a vintage Harley-Davidson UL ‘Flat Head’ engine. Wings, wheel spats, aero gauges, and weathered leatherwork added to the bare aluminum craft’s fanciful design. ‘Verboten’, an oft-used Von Dutch inscription, was the focal point of the front bodywork, done in his unmistakable style.
Legend has it that, upon completion, Von Dutch took the car down Ventura Blvd. for a “test flight”, only to be immediately ticketed for operating an unregistered vehicle! Johnny Suggs, an LA County lifeguard and long-time friend of Von Dutch, was gifted the car in the mid-1960s, and kept it until its sale in 2008. It is a true piece of SoCal Kustom Kulture and hot rod history.
Designer/builder: Von Dutch
Country of Origin: USA, California
Drivetrain Configuration: Rear engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Harley-Davidson UL Flat Head, 74 cid, air-cooled
Transmission: 3 speed forward, with reverse
Top Speed: Unknown
Years of Production: 1961
Number Produced: 1