Bill Hines' 1950 Ford
1950 Ford owned and restyled by Bill Hines of Lincoln Park, Michigan. Known as "The Lil Bat", it was featured on the cover of Rod & Custom March 1959 with the following title: "Those fins are still growing."
Bill started restyling the car in his Ecorse, Michigan shop in 1956. He moved to a new shop on Dix Highway in Lincoln Park, Michigan in 1957 where he continued working on it. Bil chopped the top 4 inches before he gave the front a facelift. A 1951 Ford Meteor grille bar was installed and the headlights were frenched with its stock rings used for a smoother look.
"Those fins are still growing"
Bill hand-formed the fins for the car and installed a set of 1956 Ford taillights. The rear bumper, which was dressed up with a Kaiser bumper guard, had to be widened because of the fins. The body was nosed and decked, and the deck lid corners were rounded. The door handles were removed for a smooth look, and in order to make it low enough, Bill also reworked his own spindle supports up front and installed lowering blocks in the rear. The rear wheel wells were enlarged to give the car a lower profile. Dual spotlights and a set of custom hubcaps made from Oldsmobile and Continental components wrapped up the first iteration of the build.
Completed in California
Sold to Bill Rawl
Later in 1958, Bill returned to Michigan with the Bat. He stayed there for a short time before he decided to move permanently to California. The warm California weather was calling Bill, and in October of 1960, he decided to close up his Michigan shop and move back to California. In 2020 Teddy Zgrzemski told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that Bill had just built Jerry Yatch's 1959 Chevrolet Impala and a 1956 Ford custom for Terry Travis. "He sold his '50 Ford to a guy by the name Bill Rawl." Bill changed the whole front end and back end on the car before he pancaked the hood and deck lid for Rawl. "He put a grille work in the back and quad headlights up front." After selling The Bat, Bill bought a 1954 Buick. "The Buick was a stock car. All he did was paint it a white pearl just before he left for California."
Teddy recalled that bubble tops were the big thing when his uncle reworked the Bat for Rawl. "The guy had a bright idea. He was supposed to ship the car out to uncle Bill so he could paint it and finish it because all the bodywork was done. He never did. Instead, he cut the roof off cause he was gonna put a bubble top on it. Somehow he moved, and he put the car by a gas station. He came back three weeks later to get it, and it was stolen."
Found...The Bat Graveyard
Bill Brawl never found the car again. The third iteration of the Bat was never completed, and the unfinished project was parked outside in the wilds of Michigan. The remains of the Bat were shown in Custom Rodder January 1995. At the time the car was still parked outside, and it was in a sad shape. Around 2005, Bill Hines attended a show in Michigan when some guy came up to him and told him that he had the Bat. "We went out to his farm up in Carlton, and he told uncle Bill he would give it to him. He could have it. But from sitting outside for so long, without no top on it, the floors were all rusted out. It was in a sad shape."
Sold to Bob Fryz
Somehow, somebody bought the old custom, and they put the front end and back end on another fifty Ford. In May of 2011, the remains of The Bat were advertised for sale on Craigslist. The car was located in Monroe, Michigan, and it was advertised without an asking price. When the car was advertised for sale, an unchopped top had been welded on to the car. The ad was brought to Teddy Zgrzemski's shop on one of his Thursday night hangouts. The ad was passed around and there was a good deal of discussion about whether or not it was the real thing, but Ted could confirm that it was. Bob Fryz of Dearborn, Michigan, one of the attendees called on the ad as soon as he saw it. He jumped into his daily driver, drove over to see it, and bought it. The guy that sold the car on Craigslist was a flipper, and he hadn't owned the car for long. He had bought it from an old guy that had it for years. The unrestored version of the car made its debut at the Billetproof Michigan show May 21, 2011 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. "You would never recognize it," Teddy told Kustomrama. "It is nothing like the original Bat was. It is in a bad shape. The thing is so rough. My uncle used conduit tubing to flare the wheel wells and such, and today the conduit tubing is rusted right through. It got holes in it for sitting outside for so long. It's in a bad shape."
Chopped at the Detroit Autorama
Restored by Geno Walker
In April of 2021 Geno Walker of Dewey, Oklahoma was working on the car for Bob Fryz. Their plan was to show the old custom in bare metal at the 2021 Darryl Starbird's Tulsa, Oklahoma Rod & Custom Car Show at the end of the month.
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