The “Niemie” Mercury Convertible
by Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines
A piece of So Cal car history and Grand National Roadster Show trophy winner, the “Niemie” Mercury Convertible was built by legendary customizer Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines in Los Angeles, California for Southern California custom and hot rodder Gary Niemie.
Bill Hines became of one of the best known custom car builders in the LA/So Cal hot rod scene. In 1958, he worked at the George Barris shop, then opened his own shop in 1960. He created many legendary cars, including the original “Lil' Bat” car in 1957 that made it's debut at the 1959 Detroit Autorama, the Buddha Buggy in 1962, etc. He was known for his mastery of using lead as a filler, his eye and talent for designing and chopping cars, fabricating hydraulic systems and his brilliant candy paint jobs that stood out at shows. Bill Hines never stopped customizing, teaching, appearing in various car TV shows and worked until he died in 2015 at the age of 94.
Gary Niemie, an original member of the 1950's Long Beach car club “Renegades,” owned/created many customs and hot rods, and is best known for his 1956 Buick, scalloped by Larry Watson and was featured in the Motor Trend February 1958 issue and 1959 Custom Cars Annual. He was also known for hand making teardrop dash knobs for many famous customs in LA, including Larry Watson's “Grapevine.”
This is Niemie's last custom and he wanted to build one final “over the top” custom and purchased an original Mercury convertible body (not a cut-up Coupe) from the LA customizer Dick Dean and engaged Bill Hines to build this show car and spared no expense. Bill chopped, channeled and built the car from ground up and during it's construction, various people became involved in the creation of the “Niemie Merc.” Dick Dean created the removable Carson style top with hidden recessed neon lighting in the roof's interior channels that lights up the top's ceiling at night. Gabe's House of Trim covered it in padded white fabric. Dave Whittle hand laid the pinstriping across the body and Larry Watson (a very close friend of Niemie) painted flying eyeballs on the chromed, 50's Cadillac air cleaner as well as on the glove box door. The beautiful 12 stage paint was applied by Cypress Rod & Custom and still has a very deep, reflective mirror shine, while an all leather blue and white interior was also installed by Gabe's House of Trim.
After the completion of the car, the “Niemie” Merc was displayed at the 2004 Grand National Roadster Show where it took home a trophy, then later, Niemie turned the car over to Boyd Coddington to sell on his behalf. The Merc was eventually acquired by a collector car museum in which it has been consistently maintained but rarely driven on the streets. As a collector of period customs and hot rods, I acquired it for my private collection from the museum when the owners decided to retire.
Since owning the Merc, I took it out in public only once to be shown at the Kustom Kemps of America's “Icons of Hot Rodding Show” in 2019 where it received the “Icons of Icons” award and was featured in the February 2020 issue of Car Kulture Deluxe magazine.
Some of the many features:
Handles, emblems shaved with remote door openers
53 DeSoto Grill and Bumpers
Royal Blue metal flake, 12 stage paint by Cypress Rod & Custom
Pinstripping/art: Dave Whittle & Larry Watson
Frame: Custom frame using mostly late 70's Buick components
Engine: SBC Hi-Po crate motor, fully dressed, chromed intake, accessories, etc.
Transmission: 700 Turbo R4
Dual Exhaust with Bellflower tips
Removable Carson top with hidden interior mood lighting
All leather interior, white and blue by Gabe's House of Trim
Dakota digital gauges
Rear back up camera built into pop-up dash stereo
Vintage Air A/C system
LaCarra steering wheel
Power windows, power locks, power doors, power brakes, remotes, etc.
Dash knobs hand built by Gary Niemie
Air Lift Suspension on rear
Wheels: Steel 5 on 5 wheels, 6” width
Diamond Back Classic 205 75 15 w 3” whitewall tires (less than 1 mile driven on them)
Just 334 total miles on the car since construction.
Car comes with a copy of the magazine personally signed by Gary Niemie as well as various Bill Hines memorabilia provided by the Hines family to be kept with the car for display. Also included are a few photos during construction with Bill Hines, copy of a photo from the GNRS, and extensive paperwork and manuals. The car is basically unchanged since being built by Bill Hines for Niemie with a few minor exceptions, ie backup camera & popup stereo. Despite being driven just over 300 miles since completion, the car is kept in good running order, always starts right up, shifts and brakes well but has been street driven very little.
Much of the historical information and older photos were provided directly from Gary Niemie as well as the Hines family. I met with both Niemie and the Hines family personally in LA to discuss and document the car's history in length.
Open to partial trades of a period correct, traditional hot rod or custom.
Call for more details, photos or videos. I am not a dealer, but a collector and will answer any questions I can. 828-877-5351 (land line, no texts) or email at [email protected] If I feel you are a scammer or not legit, I will not respond.