Bill Hines' 1950 Ford

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A photo of the first version of the Lil' Bat taken outside Barris Kustoms in 1958. Jim Semon of Sandusky, Ohio took these photos while he was on a cross-country trip that year. The photo and story appeared in The Rodder's Journal Issue 50. Photo by Jim Semon, courtesy of The Rodder's Journal.
A rear end shot of the Lil' Bat by Jim Semon. Larry Watson's 1958 Ford Thunderbird can be seen in the back of the photo. Photo by Jim Semon, courtesy of The Rodder's Journal.
A photo of the Lil' Bat taken by George Barris at the Lynwood City Hall. Photo courtesy of George Barris.
The Lil Bat parked outside Barris Kustoms.
George Barris mixing paint behind the Lil' Bat after it has been dressed up with scallops.
The second iteration of the Lil' Bat photographed outside the Compton Drive-In
The remains of the third iteration of the Lil' Bat as it appeared in Custom Rodder January 1995. Bill sold the car early in the 1960s, and the new owner had him perform a bunch of new customizing 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 bubble top. The third iteration of the build was never completed, and the unfinished project was parked outside in the wilds of Michigan.
A recreation of the Lil' Bat by Bill Hines displayed at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame in 2009. Photo by Les Stockton[1]
The Lil' Bat as it sat when it was advertised for sale on Craigslist in May 2011.[2]
In February of 2020, Gene Winfield and a crew of fabricators chopped the top on the car in front of an audience at the 68th annual Detroit Autorama. Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Gene Winfield making a template for the filler panel between the trunk lid and the window. Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.
Photo courtesy of Bill Chapman.

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."


Started in Ecorse in 1956

Bill started restyling the car in his Ecorse, Michigan shop in 1956.[3] 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

After completing the build, the Bat made its debut at the 1958 Detroit Autorama. After driving the car to California, Bill applied white-edged gold scallops on the car at Barris Kustoms.


Bubble top

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. He was going to have the car shipped out to him, but that never happened, and he sold it in the early 1960s. The new owner had Bill perform a bunch of new customizing 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 bubble top.[3]


Abandoned in the wilds of Michigan

The third iteration of the build 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.[4]


Sold to Bob Fryz

In May of 2011, the remains of The Bat was 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.[2]


Chopped at the Detroit Autorama

In February of 2020, Gene Winfield and a crew of fabricators chopped the top on the car in front of an audience at the 68th annual Detroit Autorama.[5]


Magazine Features

Rod & Custom March 1959
Custom Cars September 1959
Custom Rodder January 1960
Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual
Rod & Custom August 1990
Custom Rodder January 1995


References


Sources

Rod & Custom March 1959
Rik Hovig Custom Car Photo Archive
Barris Kustoms Of The 1950s




 

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