Kindred Motorworks is turning revered classics like the Volkswagen Bus, Ford Bronco, and Chevrolet Camaro into fully electric restorations.
With a history in traditional resto-mod design, the company continues to offer its classic ICE upgrades while shifting focus toward model-unique EV drivetrain development.
Pricing ranges from low-end Camaros for $149,000 to top-of-the-line VW Buses for $199,000 and includes a guaranteed 200-mile range, but production won't start until 2024.
Electric vehicles are largely regarded as modern items, even if the technology has been implemented over decades of automotive manufacturing. Twentieth-century gas crises and environmental science sparked demand for the large-scale EV production that aspires to dominate the automotive market in the years to come. Battery production technology and vehicle engineering have progressed so significantly that a current by-product of this EV boom is a culture of retro-fitting. From classic motorcycles to Porsche 911s, the possibilities seem endless for anyone willing to re-engineer a decades-old chassis.
Exemplifying this trend and demonstrating that seemingly anything can be done is Kindred Motorworks, a California company dedicated to reviving classic but tired chassis. Most recently, the company had dedicated itself to a line of EVs, ranging from an electric classic Volkswagen Transporter to Ford Broncos and '69 Camaros. It's important to note that Kindred is not solely an EV company, given that the Bronco and Camaro resto-models are available with internal-combustion engines as well.
Speaking on the choice to offer EV powertrains, "It’s a natural evolution informed by consumer choice and availability in the marketplace," said Kindred CEO Rob Howard. "At Kindred Motorworks, we’ve taken the customer’s formerly irrational desire for a vintage car and make it completely justifiable."
Officially launched at Monterey Car Week, the restored models are available for pre-order with a claimed production start of 2024 and no clear delivery estimate. The Kindred VW Bus marks the top of the price range, starting at $199,000, while the Bronco holds up the mid-range at $169,000. Camaro models start at $149,000 and can range up to $199,000. What do you get for your money?
It depends on what model you choose, but a variety of electric powertrains is offered. The original air-cooled drivetrain of the VW Bus is replaced with a 294-hp direct drive electric motor and 74-kWh battery. Independent rear suspension and double-wishbone front suspension on coil-overs and a necessary set of four-wheel disc brakes round out the mechanical changes to the bus. Kindred's electric system is still in development, but the company claims all EV models will have 200 miles of range with a 6.6-kWh onboard charger and 120V adapter. The company has shared very few details about the Camaro and Bronco EV drivetrains, but we know what's under the hood of the conventional ICE models.
Between the LS and LT Camaro offerings, a 490-hp LS376 or a 700-hp 6.2-liter supercharged V8 are available, with a 6-speed T56 manual transmission standard on the more expensive LT version. An 8-speed automatic is available as an upgrade to the LT model, while the 6-speed manual found in the LT can replace the LS trim's 6-speed automatic. Heavy duty six-piston disc brakes all around and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 2 or Falken Azenis FK510 tires should make this 53-year-old brute stop and turn at rates previously inconceivable.
The Ford Bronco retro-fit includes a 460-hp 5.0-liter Coyote V8, hydro boost four-wheel disc brakes, and 33-inch BF-Goodrich off-road tires. Three packages are offered for the Bronco, allowing it to be tailored for different needs. A family package includes a roll cage, rear seats, and three-point retractable seatbelts while the off-road package adds a winch, air-locking differentials, and damage-accepting impact bumpers front and rear.
The interiors include modern features like backup cameras, cupholders, and surround-sound audio systems. That's to say these restorations are complete, if pricey. Kindred's press materials suggest this cost comes with peace of mind, knowing that every last bolt has been re-done and that the vehicle's body is the only original thing remaining. And an important part of accelerating this philosophy was going electric, according to the company's website.
While an electric '69 Camaro may be antithetical to the car's upbringing, the choice to go electric is actually in line with the overarching goal of some resto-mod projects: infinite reliability and refinement. Of course, Kindred needs to iron out its EV systems, and the engineering and production of these models pose large hurdles. But once these models become available to consumers, the market will reveal if there's true demand for retro-fits.
Is it blasphemy to convert classics to all-electric powertrains, or are you potentially interested in owning one? Please comment below.