Tim Sutton

Passing of the Leadslinger

Tim Sutton
Passing of the Leadslinger

Words By Rob Fortier

Pics By Tim Sutton

Bill “Leadslinger” Hines: March 23, 1922 – May 20, 2016

On March 23, 2016, legendary kustom car builder/trendsetter/icon

Bill Hines turned “94 years young” as his grandson Mitch

professed on social media. Just two months later, the legend has

passed, joining fellow legends Dick Dean, George Barris, Larry

Watson, et al in the golden leadsled in the sky.

Bill was known for many things, but primarily as his nickname

suggests, his superior proficiency with slinging lead. He also, as

many may or may not know, is credited as one of the pioneers of

hydraulic suspension (he was inspired by Ron Aguirre’s X-Sonic

to equip Tats Gotanda’s “Buddah Buggy” ’59 Impala with hydros,

soon thereafter branching out his shop, Bill Hines Kustom Auto in

Lynwood, to performing hydraulic suspension installs).

Bill was born in Pennsylvania, but he cut his kustom teeth in

Michigan, ultimately working with Dick Dean’s father at a Nash

dealership, where he taught the younger Dean the art of

bodywork, before opening his own shop…where his namesake

“Li’l Bat” was born. From the Motor City he made his way west,

where he landed a job at Barris Kustom, working alongside future

greats Junior Conway, Dean Jeffries, and Larry Watson, to name

a few. Less than a year later, Bill was back in Detroit for a short

stint, where he hooked up with the Alexander Bros. for assistance

with bodywork. But a year later he was right back in SoCal, where

he eventually hung his sign next door to legendary custom

upholsterer Eddie Martinez after parting ways with Barris. He

remained there for nearly a quarter-century, despite his former

boss-turned-adversary’s predictions saying he’d never make it.

The following chapter in his kustom life found him in Bellflower,

where he would finish out his long career slinging lead and putting

his autograph on many a noteworthy kustom, including his followup

to Li’l Bat, “Big Bat”.

Suffice it to say, Bill Hines not only worked with the best

throughout his lifetime, he was one of the best. He may be gone,

but his mark he left in the kustom world will never be painted over

or forgotten. Rest Peacefully, Leadslinger.

-Rob Fortier