The ledendary “leadslinger” Bill Hines has passed. Born March 23, 1922 , in Erie, Pennsylvania, he spent time in Mississippi and Detroit, Michigan, before moving to California. He died peacefully in his sleep at home on May 20, 2016.
Famous for chomping on an El Producto Puritanos Finos cigar while working, Hines had a natural skill with the old customizing process of leading a car. He started building his own cars after dropping out of high school in 1941 and starting work at a local gas station in Lincoln Park, Michigan. He worked customizing cars after work and on his days off.
Through years of hands-on building, Hines developed some strong beliefs. “Bondo is poison, and every custom should be Candy Red with Tan or White accents.”
Hines opened his first shop in the early ‘50s and immediately made an impact by winning “Best Custom” at the 1953 Detroit Autorama.
He moved to California in 1958 to be closer to the West Coast builders, but decided to move back to Detroit nine months later. Working with the Alexander Brothers, he would do the paint and the brothers would do bodywork on some collaborations.
The West Coast pull was too strong however, and Hines moved back to California, working for Barris Kustoms. He rented his own building and began doing sidework as Bill Hines Kustom Auto. Eventually Hines went full-time with the shop and ran it for the next 23 years, often sub-contracting work from Barris.
Also known as the “Godfather of Hydraulics” for his early work in full-lift hydraulic system installations. He was one of the first shops that specialized in hydraulic systems.
Hines continued to be a part of kustom building for the next couple of decades, quietly going about his work until he made an appearance on Jesse James’ Monster Garage. A whole new generation was introduced to the handy work of a master.
Suffering a heart attack in December of 2015, Hines was nearing the end as he turned 94 years old in March of this year.
Rod Authority covered the master back in 2014 in our Kustom Age: Spotlight On Legendary Leadslinger Bill Hines article. Bill Hines was a household name amongst hot rod and kustom enthusiasts. He was a legend who has honed his craft and spread his name without much help from the media. You can read more about his biography on kustomrama.com which goes into great detail about his projects over the years as well as a timeline of his career.
Hines will be missed and we expect to see tributes far greater than any limelight the man received during his lifetime. He never sought out the spotlight, but now we will finally be able to see a legend get the long overdue credit that he deserved decades earlier.
Remembering the 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