Automobiles Kindred Motorworks: Keeping Classics On The RoadThe California company creating the blueprint for how resto-mods should be done.
- Words Gray Van Dyke
- Images Courtesy of Kindred Motorworks
Automotive enthusiasts love to wax poetic about the joys of driving vintage. And it’s for good reason. Between the intoxicating smell of petrol, the raw feel of the wheel, and the sheer character of the cars themselves, classics offer a welcome respite from the benumbed monotony of our tech-infused routines. It’s in their simplicity that we’re able to appreciate just how far the industry has come — especially with the advent of the electric age.
Well, until you’re stranded on the side of the road, that is.
Because let’s face it. For as much as people are willing to pour blood, sweat, and tears into their pride and joy (not to mention an armload of cash), they simply won’t achieve the reliability of a modern-day vehicle. Granted, this is to be expected of the classic ownership experience — certainly for less-than-perfect examples. However, even concours-level restorations are not without their eccentricities. When one shop is hammering out the bodywork and another is tasked with sorting through the electrical gremlins, there’s bound to be a misstep here and there. Chalk it up to having too many cooks in the kitchen, if you will.
Enter California-based Kindred Motorworks.
Frustrated by the traditional restoration model — in which any given vehicle has the potential to be passed around two, three, or even four times — Rob Howard founded the Mare Island outfit to keep the entire process under one roof.
It’s an ordeal that Howard can speak to firsthand. As he puts it, “Restoring my own classic car showed me that this was a process that I could improve upon. My prior experience working with supply chains and technology helped us remove pain points in both the production process and ownership experience.”
Operating out of a converted 1940s Naval ship-building facility, Kindred’s team encompasses every aspect of classic car restoration. Be it design, paint, bodywork, upholstery, or machining, it’s all handled by Howard’s crew of supply, tech and auto experts. Less a one-stop shop than it is a fully-independent ecosystem, Kindred’s model allows for maximum efficiency with absolute standardization. Put another way — it makes an otherwise erratic process not only highly methodical but also incredibly consistent.
Good thing, too. Classic cars are, admittedly, a highly emotional interest. However, according to Rob Howard: “At Kindred Motorworks, we’ve taken the customer’s formerly irrational desire for a vintage car and make it completely justifiable.”
So how exactly does Kindred manage to foster this kind of systematization? In short: through a proprietary technology known as Blueprint.
“Kindred’s team of designers, engineers, and auto specialists spend over 10,000 hours prototyping, testing, and designing every model,” says Howard. From there, the data is then uploaded to the Blueprint platform, turning the restoration into more of an objective science rather than a subjective art.
Sure, some might consider it sacrilege, but it’s an approach that’s allowed Kindred to “seamlessly restore different models back-to-back with no deviation in quality.” Much like any off-the-lot car, then, Kindred’s classics are painstakingly refined before going to market. It’s not enough to make the car look good; it also has to stand up to day-to-day driving.
Accordingly, each vehicle is fully modernized as part of its return to service. From the powertrain and tuning to the safety and upholstery, every aspect is examined for improvement. In practice, this makes for a far more transformative restoration than your average, at-home passion project.
Like any off-the-lot purchase, each restoration is automatically entered into the Kindred Registry upon delivery. Beyond ensuring that your car is an authentic original, it also gives exclusive access to the Kindred community, with comprehensive insurance and service programs to boot. As if that wasn’t enough, it even helps track changes in ownership information with full documentation of vehicle transactions.
Currently, Kindred has three vehicles spanning its lineup: a Ford Bronco based on the first-generation 1966-1975 model years, a Chevrolet Camaro based on the iconic 1969 X-11 model, and a VW Bus based on the Type 1 1950-1967 model years.
In each case, Kindred has worked hard to optimize the drivetrain relative to the vehicle’s purpose; they are true restomods. With the Bronco, this means that you get a 460hp Coyote 5.0 V8 paired with a fresh 4WD system and a set of Hydroboost Powered front and rear disc brakes.
Not enough power for you? The Camaro, on the other hand, offers 700hp courtesy of its 6.2L Supercharged GM V8. Mated to a 6-speed Tremec T56 manual transmission, it really puts the ‘muscle’ in muscle car.
Of course, as the industry barrels towards full electrification within the next decade, Kindred also wants to offer customers a way to future-proof their vintage vehicles.
For this reason, the leisurely VW Bus is electric only. Powered by a Direct Drive Electric AC Motor, it makes an impressive 294hp with enough juice from its battery for a respectable 200-mile range. Not bad when you consider its humble origins.
Should you be less concerned with horsepower and engine noise, you can always spec the Bronco or the Camaro with a similar all-electric powertrain. According to Howard, “We started with ICE powertrains and are expanding to offer EV as well. It’s a natural evolution informed by consumer choice and availability in the marketplace.”
If these models aren’t your particular cup of tea, don’t fret — Kindred has plans to add several new vehicles each year. For instance, the latest model in the lineup will be a pickup based on the 1947-1953 Chevrolet 3100.
The purists (read: luddites) of the automotive community will inevitably take issue with what Kindred is looking to accomplish. Restomods aren’t for everyone, and electrification is a contentious topic. For those who are willing to suspend their skepticism, however, the model will prove an exciting opportunity. We’re charged with anticipation — the chance to keep more classics on the road is a win in our book, and we think the future looks all the brighter because of it.