Bill Hines

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A Kustom Coachcraft by Bill Hines Kustom Auto Enterprises ad from the souvenir program of the 1969 Westernationals.
Bill Hines painting the restored version of the Buddah Buggy
Photo by Sondre Kvipt.
Signature flyer from the Meet & Greet at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show.
Bill Hines helped chop the top on Brad Masterson's 1951 Chevrolet
Bill Hines made the folding mechanism for the chopped top on Steve Lininger's 1951 Ford Convertible
Alexander Ruelas' 1965 Chevrolet Impala was originall restyled by Bill Hines around 1966/1967.
Dennis Unea's 1959 Chevrolet Impala was restyled by Bill Hines in 1969.

Bill Hines (03.23.1922) was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. Bill is know as the "Leadslinger", and he grew up in Jackson, Tennessee before moving to Detroit, Michigan in 1932. In 1941, while in the 11th grade, Bill quit school and opened up his own gas station on Dix highway in Lincoln Park, Michigan. At the gas station Bill began building custom cars, doing custom body and paint work. In 1941 Bill built his first custom car, a 1941 Buick Convertible. 1941 was the year Bill started leading as well.

In the late 1940s Bill also worked at a Nash dealership giving used cars new paint jobs. The dealership was owned by Dick Dean's dad, and while working there Bill taught Dick Dean how to do bodywork. In 1949, at age 16, Dick had a 1941 Hupmobile that his dad let him work on in the shop. After Dick had leaded and straightened the body on his Hupmobile, Bill painted it Vermillion.[1]

In the early 1950s, bill advanced from the gas station, and he opened up his own shop in Detroit. In 1953 he won the Best Custom honor at the Detroit Autorama with Marty Ribits' 1934 Ford, The Golden Nugget. He built a chopped and finned 1950 Ford for himself named "Li'l Bat". In April of 1958 he moved from Lincoln Park to California. He brought the whole family in a house trailer along with the Li'l Bat. He stopped by the Barris shop with the Li'l Bat, but George Barris, Bill Carr and Dean jeffries were gone on a show tour back East with The Aztec and The Kopper Kart. Bill met a guy named Gene Simmons, who was the manager at the time. He saw Bill's custom and asked who did it? Bill told him that he had built it. This was a wednesday, and Gene, also called Gino, told Bill that he could use somebody right now. Bill told him he could start on Monday, but Gino replied "How about tomorrow?" Bill loaded his toolbox and started the next day. Sam was gone by then, Junior Conway was just a prep boy, and Larry Watson took care of the paint department while George was away. George returned about three weeks later. He saw Bill working on a car and he kept looking and looking. This went on a couple of days, not much said, as George was a fussy man according to Bill. But Bill was doing so good, and so fast that George was very impressed. Bill can't remember what he did first, but according to Larry Watson he did all of the work on his 1958 Ford Thunderbird. After that he got into the big ones, Dave Cunningham's 1940 Ford, Mitch Nagao's 1957 Ford Thunderbird, and Shirley Barris' 1958 Ford Thunderbird. Bill stayed for about 9 months. He left the day before Christmas and went back to Detroit. He stayed in Detroit all of 1959[2], and built several custom cars there such as Jerry Yatch's 1959 Chevrolet Impala that he gave a candy apple paint. According to Bill this was one of the first cars in the Detroit area to ever be painted with that type of paint. Hines is also credited with being one of the first people to add molded-in side pipes. Bill was quite busy painting candy, being overloaded with work he hired the Alexander Brothers to do bodywork. The Alexander Brothers didn't do candy paint jobs, so they traded work for candy instructions and paint on their own jobs.

In October of 1960 Bill returned to California, and he started to work for Barris Kustoms again. As George wouldn't pay him more than $100 a week, Bill rented a building next to Eddie Martinez in Lynwood after a couple of months, doing part-time work. One day George called Bill in the office saying "Hey Willy, I hear you got a shop" He was pretty hot-headed in those days according to Bill, and told him he couldn't make it. But Bill was there for 23 years running his own company called Bill Hines Kustom Auto. George had respect for Bill, they were still friends and Bill continued doing some sub-contracting for George when the shop was busy. Bill and George were competitive, and according to Bill, George kept Bill out of the magazines, keeping him from getting recognition. George never stepped on Bill's toes though, and according to an interview Bill did with The Rodder's Journal Number Fifty Six, he never took credit for any of his work.[2]

In 1962 after meeting Ron Aguirre and his X-Sonic bubble top Corvette Bill equipped Tats Gotanda's Candy blue 1959 Chevrolet Impala, better known as the Buddah Buggy with a full hydraulic lift system. After that Bill became on of the first installation shops of hydraulic lift systems, and he installed hydraulics on several other cars. The best set around at the time included an Adele square pump or Kidde valve with the pump tank containing the hydraulic oil sitting on top of the motor.[3] Bill was later named "The Godfather of Hydraulics". In 1969 Bill's shop was located at 11 508 Long Beach Blvd. in Lynwood, California.[4]

In 1981, Bill told Chalo Lafuente of Technical Lowrider Magazine that some of his latest hobbies included restoring antique cars back to original, and converting Cadillac Sevilles into 2-door convertibles using hydraulic system to retract the rag top. In the same interview Bill also told Chalo that he had stopped putting hydraulics on cars due to the increased cost of parts and labor.[3]

In 1983 Bill moved his shop to Bellflower. In Bellflower Hines built cars such as the Lil' Bat and the Big Bat. In Bellflower Bill also built a clone of the Big Bat. [3]

In 2004, Bill was part of Jesse James build team on the Monster Garage's Old-School '54 Chevy project. Entering the show in his Bat, equipped with a cigar, it seems like the younger generation of kustom car builders rediscovered this old legend.

Today Bill Hines lives in Garden Grove. He has lived in Orange County since 1963, and is still working seven days a week!


Bill Hines' Cars

Bill Hines Bat
Bill Hines' 1980 Buick Riviera

Cars Restyled by Bill Hines

Marty Ribits' 1934 Ford - The Golden Nugget
Jerry Yatch's 1940 Mercury
Dick Dean's 1941 Hupmobile
Tom Rodriguez' 1947 Ford
Johnny Shredder's 1949 Ford
Bill Hines Bat
Brad Masterson's 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline
Steve Lininger's 1951 Ford Convertible
Mark Drews' 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air
Jesse James' 1954 Chevrolet 210 - The Old School Chevy
Teddy Zgrzemski's 1954 Ford
Dave Robertson's 1956 Ford F-100 - Lil Nugget
Pinky Richard's 1957 Chevrolet Corvette
Tats Gotanda's 1959 Chevrolet Impala - The Buddah Buggy
Jerry Yatch's 1959 Chevrolet Impala
Alexander Ruelas' 1965 Chevrolet Impala

Cars Restored by Bill Hines

Larry Sanford's 1940 Mercury 4-door Convertible


  1. Custom Rodder May 2004
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Rodder's Journal Number Fifty Six
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Technical LowRider
  4. The Souvenir Program for the 1969 Westernationals


Barris Kustoms Of The 1950s
The News Herald

Customs by the Sea is a traditional custom car show in Wildwood, New Jersey. Presented by Kustomrama, the show is open for pre 1952 automobiles, restyled in a pre 1952 style. Click here for more info...

Promote your shop, show or business on Kustomrama - This ad space can also be bought to promote cars for sale or to hunt down rare parts you're looking for. Click here for more info...


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