The Future of the Car Hobby 

I am fascinated by the creative process. The ability to stare at a blank canvas and formulate something that didn’t exist up until then. A musician creating music to fit a song writer’s lyrics. An artist transferring emotion onto a blank canvas through a paint brush. A fabricator using natural elements to bend and shape steel into a vision. Creativity comes in different forms but the results are always new.

This story is a tribute to Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines, and to show my younger readers who he was and why he is a legend.

When a legend dies, people wonder who will be able to take their place or pass on their knowledge. Hot-rods, Low-riders, and Kustoms are car-scenes that deal with this dilemma as many of the founding fathers are moving on to the big speed shop in the sky.

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The topic of whether or not millennials, and the generation after it, will carry on the automotive hobby has been popping up on different media sites. I’m here to set the record straight, we LOVE cars! Don’t worry about your classics because there are still plenty of young people waiting for their chance to own a piece of motoring history, I’m one of them.

Kustom cars are not always a huge hit with the millennials, unless they are the new generation in a family of builders or grew up around the scene. Doesn’t mean we don’t take notice when we see one, they just aren’t as mainstream as they used to be. That is why I wanted to write this piece, show the younger gearheads what Bill Hines means to the automotive community. One of the founding fathers of “modding”, “stance” and “flush.”

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Bill Hines’ 1950 Ford, aka “The Lil’ Bat”

Aren’t Low-Riders, Hot-Rods & Kustoms the Same Thing? NO!

A brief history lesson into what the Kustom car culture is since a lot of people confuse it with low-riders and hot-rods.

Although similar, but all three have vastly different goals and priorities when it comes to what they want their car to do, or say, when people see it.

Hot-rodders care about performance first. If people don’t see their car that means it flew by so fast that nobody got a good enough glimpse – the ultimate goal. Creature comforts and paint come second to horsepower and gear ratios.

Low riders are typically the opposite, they want an attention grabber car. Their goal is to see people doing their best impression of an owl when they see their car drive by.

Kustoms are a greatest hits collection of both those worlds. Their cars want to grab as much attention as possible as they scream by making power and noise.

The Legend of Lead

In 1941, Bill Hines was in the 11th grade when he decided to quit school and start his own business of running a gas station. Living in Lincoln Park, Michigan, Bill started building cars.

Imagine the freedom of being a teenager, and your own boss, spending your days working on cars!

By the early 1950’s, Bill was in Detroit where he opened his first custom car shop. He won “Best Custom” in 1953 at the Detroit Autorama for his work on a 1934 Ford called “The Golden Nugget”, owned by Marty Ribits.

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Marty Ribits 1934 Ford aka “The Golden Nugget”

By 1958, he had packed up his family and moved to California to be near the car scene. His time in California would be spent creating and competing against his friend/enemy, fellow Kustom car legend, George Barris. (Creator of the Batmobile and the Munster Koach to name a very few.)

Bill’s first work when he moved to California was working at Barris’ shop. But Bill soon left to open his own shop and the two became respected competitors.

Before he become known as the “Leadslinger” he was given the title of “The Godfather of Hydraulics.” His shop was one of the first to begin installing hydraulic lifts on cars.

Anyone who remembers the TV show Monster Garage, might have seen Bill appear on an episode. He came in and began recessing the headlights on a ’54 Chevy, while smoking a cigar. That’s how I was first introduced to this legend in 2005.

Seeing an elderly man melt metal with a torch and shape it into art while puffing away at a stogie is the definition of old school bad-ass.

Building a Vision From Scratch

For my younger readers who haven’t paid much attention to American cars pre-1970, or prefer cars from across the pond, building a Kustom “lead sled’ means building your own car from scratch. You take a car and look to see how you can do better than the team who built it. Take in every detail of a car and begin to visualize what to replace, chop, paint, shave, or flip. It is a labor of passion to chop a car to bits and put it back to together with an eye of an artist and the hands of a craftsman.

Bill Hines’ Legacy 

When a legend leaves this earth they become immortalized by their legacy. Bill Hines will live on thanks to his work, which is a collection of one of kind cars and a styling method that will live on in a new generation of hands and eyes. The art of customizing cars will live on until the last bit of metal turns to rust.

Rest in Peace Mr. Bill Hines, you will never be forgotten.

More details on Bill Hines’ life & career can be read on kustomrama.com

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