Bill Hines

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A portrait photo of Bill taken in 2011. Photo by Sondre Kvipt - Kustomrama.
Marty Ribits' 1934 Ford, the Golden Nugget, was restyled by Bill at his Detroit shop in 1952. In 1953 Marty won the "Best Custom" award at the Detroit Autorama with the car.
An early version of Bill Hines' 1950 Ford, Lil' Bat as it appeared when Bill moved to California in 1958.
In 1958, after moving to California, Bill laid Gold scallops on the Lil' Bat.
Bill restyled Jerry Yatch's 1959 Chevrolet Impala in 1959, while living in Detroit.
Bill restyled Teddy Zgrzemski's 1954 Ford around 1959 - 1960, while living in Detroit.
Dave Robertson's 1956 Ford F-100, Lil Nugget, was restyled in the late 1950s or the early 1960s. Bill did most of the lead work on the car.
Bill restyled Tats Gotanda's 1959 Chevrolet Impala, The Buddah Buggy, in 1961. Tats' Impala was the first car that Bill installed hydraulic lifts on.
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.
A Kustom Coachcraft by Bill Hines Kustom Auto Enterprises ad from the souvenir program of the 1969 Westernationals.
Bill Hines' 1957 Lincoln of Garden Grove, California. This photo shows the car as it appeared circa 1997.
A photo of Bill at the 1st Hot August Nights in Branson, Missouri, circa 1997. Photo courtesy of Rick Ruth.
Bill sold the original Lil' Bat in the early 1960s. The new owner had Bill perform a bunch of new cuztomizing to the body. The front and rear ends were heavily modified, and the chopped top was cut off, as the new owner wanted to fit the Bat with a bubbletop. The build was never completed, and the unfinished project was parked outside in the wilds of Michigan, so Bill decided to clone his old custom.
Johnny Shredder's 1949 Ford was chopped by Bill.
Bill working on one of his many top chops.
Bill welding.
Bill was part of the build crew that restyled Jesse James' 1954 Chevrolet 210, The Old School Chevy, on the TV show Monster Garage in 2004.
Bill painting the restored version of the Buddah Buggy.
Bill helped Brad Masterson chop the top on his 1951 Chevrolet.
Bill Hines made the folding mechanism for the chopped top on Steve Lininger's 1951 Ford Convertible
A signature flyer from the Meet & Greet at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show.
In May of 2011 the remains of the original Lil' Bat was advertised for sale on Craigslist.

Bill Hines (03.23.1922 - 05.20.2016) was a legendary custom car builder born in Erie, Pennsylvania. Know as the "Leadslinger", Bill grew up in Jackson, Tennessee before moving to Detroit, Michigan in 1932.


First Custom Car

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.

Dick Dean

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]

First Custom Shop

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" award 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".

Moving to California

In April of 1958 Bill 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 out of the shop, 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 himself. 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.

Back to Detroit

Bill stayed in California 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 for being one of the first people to do 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.

Bill Hines Kustom Auto

In October of 1960 Bill returned to California, and he went back 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]

The Godfather of Hydraulics

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 one 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]

Bellflower Shop

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 Lil' Bat. [3]

Monster Garage

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.

A Legend is Gone

In 2015 Bill lived in Garden Grove, California. He had lived in Orange County since 1963, and was still working seven days a week! In December of 2015 he had a mild heart attack, and the doctors kept him in the hospital for a few days for observation.[5] He got back on his legs again after the heart attack, but 5 months later, May 20, 2016 Bill passed peacefully away at his home, 94 years old.[6]

Bill Hines' Personal Cars

Bill Hines' 1950 Ford - Lil' Bat
Bill Hines' 1957 Lincoln
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
Nick Daneri's 1970 Chevrolet Camaro

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
  5. Rit Pchette
  6. Mitch Hines


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