The “Niemie” Mercury Convertible
by Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines
A piece of So Cal car history, the “Niemie” Mercury Convertible was built by the legendary Bill “The Leadslinger” Hines in Los Angeles, California for the well known Southern California custom and hot rodder Gary Niemie incorporating a mix of traditional styling lines with modern luxuries and features.
Bill Hines was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, born with a severely deformed spine but despite of this, 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 Buddah 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 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.”
Niemie decided to build one last “over the top” custom and purchased this original convertible body (not a cut-up Coupe) from the customizer Dick Dean and engaged his friend, Bill Hines to build him a fully drivable show car and he 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 lighting in the roof's interior channels that light up the top's ceiling at night while Gabe's House of Trim covered it in white fabric . Dave Whittle hand laid the tasteful pinstriping across the body and Larry Watson (a 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 at the prestigious event, then later, Niemie turned the car over to Boyd Coddington to sell on his behalf. The Merc was sold and 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.
After acquiring the car, 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 drew interest from the editor of Car Kulture Deluxe where it was later featured in the February 2020 issue. Darryl Starbird was also at the function with one of his Merc's and the two famous Mercs faced off for a slow drags race. The “Niemie” Merc won.
Some of the details:
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 in 2 years)
The Niemie Merc has just 334 total miles on the car since construction and is the last custom Niemie had built.
Car comes with a copy of the magazine personally signed by Gary Niemie as well as various Bill Hines memorabilia provided by Mitch Hines (grandson of Bill Hines) to be kept with the car for display and future generations. Also included are photos during construction with Bill Hines, copy of a photo from the 2004 GNRS, and extensive paperwork and manuals. With the exception of the pop-up display dash stereo system with a back up camera, the car is basically unchanged since being built by Bill Hines for Niemie. 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 not been on highway in some time.
Much of the historical information and older photos were provided directly from Gary Niemie as well as Mitch Hines, grandson of Bill Hines. Both of whom I met with personally in LA to discuss and document the car's history in length.
Please call for more details. I am not a dealer but a collector and will answer any questions I can. 828-877-5351 or email at [email protected] If feel you are a scammer or not legit, I will not respond.