SlickRydes owner turns rides into art on wheels
Bill Neenan, owner of SlickRydes, spends his days shaping metal, sketching out flames, and carefully guiding a thin paintbrush, leaving long strokes of color that complement every line and curve of a tricked-out car or motorcycle. Some of his works of art have appeared in movies and magazines.
Hotrod purists revere the name Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard. Howard’s influence on Neenan is clear. “Von Dutch is the godfather of pinstriping, and one of the first to pinstripe cars and bikes in the fifties,” Neenan says. Trends in car and motorcycle customizing, just like in clothing, change and come back around. “Pinstriping was popular in the seventies. But right now it’s making a huge comeback,” he explains.
How did you get started in this business?
I got my start at age five when my aunt bought me a model kit. I soon started customizing the kits. Once I went to a car show and told a pinstriper, “I’ll be very quiet if you’ll just let me watch you work.” I memorized everything he did with that tiny brush and developed a knack for it. I taught myself painting, and I’ve been doing custom paint and body for a living since 1978. People call me an artist, but I’m not too sure about that.
What is a custom car or motorcycle?
Customizing means altering a stock vehicle to suit an individual’s needs or taste. That means we can adapt parts from another vehicle, use raw materials to create parts, or paint it and pinstripe it any way you like, giving it a one-of-a-kind look. I have to say, there are more girls involved in the custom world than ever before. We can even use rhinestones and pearls. Building a custom bike or car from the ground up is another option. The only limit is your imagination.
What kinds of vehicles do you customize?
I’m working my way into the custom motorcycle world and having fun with it. What’s trending with motorcycles now, instead of custom choppers, is custom baggers (a motorcycle with a fairing and saddlebags). I’ve customized cars for years and have a few projects right now—a 1957 Chevy and a 1980 Monte Carlo—that we’re turning into custom lowriders.
I’ve pinstriped guitars, cell phone cases, Christmas ornaments, a girl’s handbag, shoes, bowling pins, and even toilet seats (new ones only). If the paint will stick, I’ll pinstripe it.
Story & Photos by Carol Hutchison