NOTHING TURNS HEADS like a vintage car. It conjures nostalgia for a bygone era and reminds us that driving is about more than getting from one place to another. A person behind the wheel of a classic Ford Bronco or Chevy pickup seems to be enjoying life a little more than the rest of us. But as anyone who has dabbled in vintage cars knows, they’re incredibly difficult to maintain, rather unsafe, and quite unreliable. Plus, they guzzle gas. Some people have endless hours to tinker and delight in the road-trip-gone-wrong. For those who want the look of a classic vehicle without the hassle, there’s Kindred Motorworks.
At an expansive production facility in Northern California’s Mare Island, the Kindred Motorworks team infuses proprietary technology into sought-after iconic models with modern-day specs, tech, and design. Fresh internal combustion engines and brakes are just the beginning. Consider the Kindred Bronco: The 1960s-era vehicle comes equipped with power windows, a state-of-the-art sound system, Bluetooth capabilities, a rearview camera, and your choice of 10 bold shades fit for any adventure. The Kindred Chevy 3100 Pick-Up Truck transforms a late 1940s body into an electric vehicle with a 200-mile range. Designed for beach days, tailgates, and even everyday errands, the Kindred VW Bus updates its original quirky steering, then adds seatbelts and custom leather interiors.
Spending hours upon hours in office environments, founder Rob Howard decided to reignite his childhood passion for restoring vintage vehicles. “I always had a notebook to keep track of the project — the blizzard of parts, to-do lists, phone numbers of vendors, design ideas, all in one place,” Howard says. “One day, when I looked at that notebook, I realized how complex the restoration and modernization process was.” Armed with a background leading technology and supply chain companies, Howard pulled together an ace team of engineers, designers, and technicians — many of which he had worked with before. Together, these auto enthusiasts develop industry-leading solutions to bring cars “back from the dead” at scale, all under one roof in Mare Island, California.
Restoration begins with sourcing aged cars and trucks before they’re brought to the “boneyard” in Mare Island. There, every vehicle is stripped down to the frame. “Out must go anything that would make you think twice about jumping into your car and hitting the road: lack of reliability, questionable handling, and braking, to name a few,” says Joe Fernandez, Director of Design. The team replaces these outdated systems with the latest safety and performance technology before adding contemporary conveniences — power locks and windows, media centers, rearview cameras, cup holders, and heated seats. A modern drive system follows, including EV components in some models. The end result is a line of classic cars that are more efficient, powerful, and safe, with their original spirit and aesthetics intact.
While producing just one of these rides takes roughly 10,000 hours, it’s not all flashy machines and programs behind the operation. Each vehicle is hand-built by skilled craftspeople with the utmost attention to detail. And it’s this human touch that gives Kindred’s fleet heart. Paired with beauty and reliability, it’s no wonder that these vehicles spark joy.
“There are few things better than the feeling of confidence when you jump into one of our cars on an early Sunday morning, before anyone is out, and know that it will take you to a place where it’s just you and the road,” says Fernandez. “When you return from your adventure, and the rest of the world is up and about, the smiles that our cars bring to people’s faces are absolutely priceless.”
The editorial staff of Departures was not involved in the creation of this story.
Departures Studio84 is the creative, strategy, and media team at Departures dedicated to bringing merchant partnerships to life.