Old-car owners are aware of the situation. Driving an old car means coping with mechanical problems, creeping corrosion, old wiring shorting out, and the ongoing drain on one’s money account. The “project” is never finished. A never-ending labour of love that involves the satisfaction of spending a weekend changing a starter or rewiring the brake lights is part of the appeal for some people.
Others, however, find that the constant upkeep snuffs out their passion for an antique car, whether it be for emotional, aesthetic, or historical reasons. For this second set of consumers, there is Kindred Motorworks, a brand-new restomod firm situated in Northern California that transforms coveted vintage cars by adding contemporary safety systems, powertrains, and other amenities.
The restomod industry is not very new. Rob Howard, the CEO and creator of Kindred, which had its public debut during Monterey Car Week, claims that the firm stands apart from the competition due to its tech-focused strategy.
Their approach offers a fascinating look into how modern technology might satisfy the public’s yearning for antiques that function well than when they were brand new.
Through its first two funding rounds, Kindred Motorworks was able to raise more than $20 million thanks to this tactic. By the end of 2020 and 2021, it had raised $5 million and $15.6 million, respectively. It has drawn a number of high-profile investors, including Robert Downey, Jr.’s Footprint Coalition and Hagerty, a business recognised for historic cars and one of the nation’s biggest insurers of such cars. In addition to these investors, the firm also has the backing of CPMG, Goldcrest, and Fifth down Capital, whose money will help it reach full production in 2024.
The breakdown and design plan
With a structured procedure that starts with hand-selecting a vintage automobile, truck, or SUV, Kindred distinguishes apart from the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of businesses that repair ancient cars. This process is followed by pulling down the vehicle and mapping every square inch. The business then utilises this plan for each step of the rebuilding procedure, from finding and buying the components through final assembly.
The goal is to scale up a costly, time-consuming, and labor-intensive process by making it effective.
According to Howard, who spoke to TechCrunch, “I felt we could use technology and scale to this and make it lot more efficient.”
The frame of a Chevy 3100, a pickup truck that was manufactured from the late 1940s through the late 1950s and is a favourite among vintage car aficionados, is up on the lift at Kindred’s shop. According to Howard, this vehicle has already undergone several cycles of disassembly and rebuilding and will continue to do so.
Howard claims that this will result in a highly thorough, step-by-step procedure or blueprint that will be utilized to rebuild 3100s with electric powertrains and sell them to clients.
Although it may seem like overkill, the system will contain how-to videos for each stage, ensuring that the cars are manufactured identically each time.
Employees lacking in-depth technical knowledge will also be able to enter right into the building process and pick it up on the job. Depending on their expertise, each employee who logs in will be given a job at a station that is supplied. Most restoration businesses employ staff members with master mechanic-level expertise in both the vehicle and automobiles in general.
The master mechanic is still present in the Kindred model, but they are no longer required to oversee the whole construction. A tracking system created by Kindred manages everything in real time.
The final product will be an electric or gas-powered contemporary antique car or truck with disc brakes, three-point seat belts, headrests, updated steering, and LED lamps as standard safety equipment. There are no airbags fitted. Additionally, the cars will include a Bluetooth infotainment system with an integrated rearview camera.
According to the company’s website, the EV models will have batteries that can go up to 200 miles on a single charge.
Automobile geeks who love technology
This is not a group of people who switched their focus to automobiles because of the recent explosion in vehicle costs. For twenty years, Howard has been repairing vehicles by himself. Four years were spent on his most recent effort, which he discovered all the flaws in right away.
That experience with restoration is usual. Since each vehicle is effectively a one-off job, it may be difficult to predict what will and won’t work as you go along until the project is finished. The team believed that by using their skills to shorten the procedure, they would produce better automobiles.
Serial entrepreneur Howard said that the main team at Kindred had previously worked together on his other businesses. Both the SaaS same-day delivery company Grand Junction and the third-party logistics firm Ensenda, which was sold to Transforce in 2013 and 2017, used these key workers. They made the decision to pursue a passion project after three years of employment with the large store.
Other employees of the business compete in the local 24 Hours of Lemons, a mock event that parodies the illustrious 24 Hours of Le Mans. The competitors are expected to purchase and modify a $500 automobile in place of multimillion dollar racing teams. As a consequence, the show is more about the peculiar automotive culture than it is about racing.
Richard Baldwin Three pre-order automobiles from Kindred are all available for reservations with a $1,000 down payment.
Starting at $200,000, the business will refurbish and market Volkswagen microbuses. Additionally, it will offer a historic Ford Bronco, which begins at $169,000 and is available with a V8 or an electric motor, as well as a late 1960s Camaro, which is also offered with a V8 or an electric motor. The LS and LT Camaros will cost $149, 00 and $199,000, respectively, to purchase.
There are options that can be added to the cars to keep the system running well, but there won’t be any bespoke builds.
There are many places that will do that, and Howard pointed out that once some of the cars leave the shop, their new owners would probably modify them.
These are not inexpensive cars. In truth, whether they were manufactured by a team or an individual, the majority of restored antique cars are exorbitantly costly. Even though Kindred has reduced the procedure, these cars are still assembled by hand.
However, the business is providing a guarantee, which is something that the majority of neighbourhood stores won’t.
All automobiles will come with a one-year guarantee from the firm. Additionally, it intends to cooperate with service centre partners to repair automobiles as necessary.
“We are familiar with these automobiles, have access to all the components, and understand how they fit together. We can thus service these automobiles better than anybody else, according to Howard.
Kindred, a company in Marin County with 30 workers, is expanding. According to Howard, the business will relocate to a bigger building across the harbour and anticipates hiring 300 people by the end of 2024. A large portion of them will be novice technicians.
There are many of individuals who sell a firm for a lot of cash before embarking on a passion endeavour.
The Kindred team has done just that, but it is incorporating it with decades of supply chain and retail expertise to transform how consumers purchase classic cars.
Anyone who has ever attended a car show and saw the sea of vintage vehicles and the throngs of spectators knows that Kindred could have a shot to be successful.