World Famous Designer/Owner JOHN D'AGOSTINO tells Jonnie the complete history of how he acquired the Legendary "Singing Cowboy" GENE AUTRY'S '57 Caddy Seville, and how Legendary Kustomizer BILL HINES used his "magic touch" to turn it into a multiple-award winning show car !
You undoubtedly saw this beautiful machine many times in Custom Rodder, Rod & Custom, and many, many other magazines, but in this exclusive Interview, John gives the documented story of this famous Seville's long history of ownership through the years.
Then, shortly after he purchased it, John had Master Craftsman "Hall of Famer" BILL HINES turn it into the chopped, molded, shaved, spectacularly-painted with crushed diamonds mixed into the Candy Apple Red lacquer paint, award-winning: "STARFIRE" !! (The top was chopped by Jimmy Farcello in Las Vegas.)
This is one story you'll definitely enjoy...and need to hear more than once, and scroll down the page for our personal memories & tributes to Bill Hines who passed away May 20th, 2016.
[IN ONE OF THE MOST unusual places I've ever done an Interview: John & I did this Interview in the back seat of a Chrysler 300, with the air-conditioning cranked up, during a 104 degree day in July at the Kustom Kemps Of America 26th Annual Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina, Kansas ! JK
(Above left: John's '57 Seville "The Starfire". Photo courtesy of Kustomrama; Above right: the brand new, stock, 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville)
(Above left & Right: An original brochure for the 1957 Cadillac showing the Eldorado Seville & Biarritz)
NOTE: Only 2,100 Seville Hardtops, and 1,800 Biarritz Convertibles were produced in 1957.
REMEMBERING BILL HINES...
JOHN D'AGOSTINO & I have been friends for many years, and after Bill HInes passed away (May 20, 2016), we had a couple of conversations about Bill and our relationships with him. We both miss that wonderful little guy...always wearing that white shirt, black pants with suspenders, and, that ever-present cigar clenched between his teeth.
Bill was a warm, friendly, caring, gentle man...who had a great sense-of-humour, and an all-seeing-eye when it came time to chop-a-top, lead-in a headlight rim, or, french in a pair of antennas. John knew Bill for almost 4 Decades, the "Gene Autry '57 Caddy Seville" (featured in this Interview story with John) was built by Bill in 1991...and I would venture to say wherever it is today - if it hasn't been touched by its owner- still has that beautiful custom paint job that Bill gave it at that time.
John told me that he could never say enough good things about Bill...it would take forever to do that. John's said his respect for Bill's talent, creativity, and ability to "do-it-all" when it came to kustoms was almost unequalled in the Industry...and, yes, everyone in the world of kustomizing has always had the highest respect for Bill.
THE INVICTA & THE BAT...
THIS IS A SHOT of the "INVICTA" , and myself, at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame Museum where it's on display. If you look to the right side of the pic, you'll see that at one time one of Bill Hines "Bat" cars was also on display, right there next to me...an honor for sure.
I met Bill for the first time in 2006 and he greeted me like he'd known me forever...that was Bill Hines ! After we talked for awhile, I knew he needed to get back to the KKOA "Top Chop" that he was doing, but before he went back to do that, he gave me one of his "window sticker" logos, and a business card...and even wrote his Cell Number on the back of the card and told me to call him anytime I wanted to. That was Bill Hines.
Through the year's, at every event I attended, I always sought-out Bill if he was there and made sure to spend some time with him.
The last time I saw Bill was at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Hall Of Fame's 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Museum in Oklahoma, June, 2016. Keith Dean, and, "Tranny"John Saltsman drove in from California bringing Bill to the event. Bill looked tired during those hot days we were there, but he always found time to talk, show that twinkle in his eye for a quick joke, and, it was sad to know that turned out to be the last time I would see him.
I had, in jest, asked him if he was still working 7 days a week, to which he smiled and replied: "Jonnie if there were 8 days in the week, they'd have to pay me for overtime !" That was Bill Hines.
MY SINCERE, heartfelt condolences go out to Bill's son, Mike Hines, his grandson & up-and-coming kustomizer, Mitch Hines, and all of his family & friends.
To say Bill will be missed would be an understatement. To say that meeting & knowing Bill Hines was truly one of the highlights in my lifelong love of Rods & Customs would also be an understatement. Getting to watch him work hour-after-hour in that hot Kansas sun gettng a chopped top accomplished, being able to shake his hand, share a joke, tell him he'd always been one of my personal R&C Heroes...well, those were truly part of a priceless experience that helped enrich my life. And, that was because of Bill Hines.
R.I.P., Mr. #1 Leadslinger. After all those 7 Day Weeks you worked through the course of your lifetime...you truly deserve it.
Jonnie King (7-1-2016)
THE CAR KULTURE DeLUXE TRIBUTE TO "The Leadslinger" BILL HINES...
Geno DiPol, Publisher, and, Alan Mayes, Managing Editor of Ol Skool Rodz & Car Culture DeLuxe Magazines, are always "ahead of the curve" in their Editorials & Tributes to the R&C Industries Leaders/Pioneers who've left us...and many have just in the last few year's.
Their moving Tribute to one of the Industries longest-running Hall of Famers/Pioneers, BILL HINES, who passed away May 20th, 2016, is one that you should not only read, but put in your Collection.
CKD #77 (July-August, 2016) has not only the Tribute itself by Geno DiPol in his editorial, but, in addition, features a story on Bill's "Lil Bat 2" by Anna Marco (Bill's worked on her kustom Stude), and, Alan Mayes adds excerpts & photos from his superb book "Old School Customs" (Reviewed on the"Hot Off The Press" Section on thie Site.) It's an Issue that you'll keep and cherish for years.
There was only ONE Bill Hines...unique, original, a friend to all who met him, and one of THE BEST kustomizers to ever pick-up a torch & paddle...and the Management & Staff of CKD echoes all of those sentiments perfectly in Issue #77.
PERSONAL NOTE ON MY LOVE OF '57 CADDY SEVILLES' : IN 1960 I HAD my first ride in a '57 Seville. Greg Ferro was a good friend of mine and his Dad, unbeknownst to me, had purchased one. Greg called me up one Summer night back in 1960 when he was home on leave from the Paratrooper's and asked me if I was up for some Crusin' 'cause he had a surprise to show me. I had never seen the car till that night...didn't even know it existed and I was literally blown away by it !!
Those cars came LOADED with everything: PS, PB, PW, Power Seats, Air, Power Antenna, Automatic Headlight Dimming Control (Autronic Eye) etc., etc. Best of all, for a Radio Guy like myself, the Wonderbar Foot-Button Operated Radio Station Selector: Just tap your foot on the button and you can change from Elvis, to the Drifters, to Bobby Vee, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent , Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, or anyone you want. How cool was that when these cars were produced in '57 ! (Although GM made it an option on many Cads & Buicks in those days, it was Standard on the Seville.)
And, yes, we DID Cruise that nite... covering all of the local St. Louis "Crusin' Spots": Chuck-A-Burger, Steak n' Shake, we hit 'em all ! And in that beautiful Metallic Blue Seville with a White-Grained Top , necks snapped all over the place when we pulled in, as well as at every Stop Sign we were at.
Since that night, I have always wanted a '57 Seville. It's always been on my list of "one day" cars, as in: One day I really have to get one of those ! JK
(Above: This is it ! A '57 Seville exactly like the one that I rode in on that fateful night back in 1960 ! I really do have to get me one of these !! )
(All photos/images used on this page courtesy of their original owners/copyright holders.)________________________________________________________________
THE LEGENDARY GENE AUTRY was born in Texas in 1907, raised in Texas and Oklahoma, and started on the Radio at KVOO in Tulsa. Gene was 91 when he passed away October 2, 1998. To find out more about Gene and his remarkable career, visit his WebSite: www.geneautry.com