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Dave Kindig -- Kindigit Design -- is presented with an Honorary Membership in the Automotive History Preservation Society for his contributions to automotive design and the preservation of auto history

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Interview with Dave Kindig -- Kindigit Design August 2016
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Interview with Dave Kindig -- Kindigit Design

conducted at Goodguys 30th West Coast Nationals  August 26, 2016

No Limits: Thank you Dave for taking time from your exhibit to talk with us. This is a fantastic display of your work. Our members own and work on their cars. Restoring or modifying them. Can you give us some guidelines as to what to avoid ?

Dave Kindig: You should really do your research to make sure that the person or shop you’re asking to work on your car if you are not doing the work yourself to a.) are they qualified to do it and b.) that there isn’t a long line of people upset that they didn’t get their cars back or the shop didn’t deliver. Buyer Beware. Do your research. Make sure you have the right guy work on it. Nobody wants to be somebody’s hero so if you start to feed them a lot of money in advance and nothing’s happening, that’s usually a pretty good determiner that you can probably guess that you’re going to lose what you’ve already invested.  

No Limits: When we get our project cars,  where should we start ? Should we take out the drive train; or the interior or ??

Dave Kindig: That’s kind of a complex question simply because the condition of cars varies. If the car comes from that “magical place” like the desert where they have no rust or maybe was really well taken care of – never been hit or repaired back in the 60’s or 7-0’s where technology wasn’t as great as it is today, so assuming that you’ve got a really nice car – and I’ve seen a lot of “really nice cars” that once you get the skins off of them you find out it’s a little bit different – somebody’s  got in there.

Typically what we do when we start a complete project is to systematically take the vehicle completely apart. We bag and label everything. We makes notes of what needs to be replaced; what’s missing; what needs to be restored, everything. Once we do that we send our cars up to Oregon to have them chemically dipped. Then we know the true condition of the sheet metal.

No Limits: For the home mechanic/ restorer – what do you recommend we do to help us in our hobby ?

Dave Kindig: Well you know taking a class on MIG or TIG welding. Welding is key to restoration. You know I started out in my garage and I am self-taught. I surrounded myself with people that knew what they were doing and I just replicated what they did. Almost like Michael Jackson getting the singing lessons and then going home and teaching the rest of the family. And that’s what I would do. I’d watch other people welding and hammering and figuring out how metal was shaped. So all aspects – metal shaping, welding, body paint, graphics . I’ve been designing cars since I was a little kid and have been very passionate about that. I jokingly say that I had a Design and Engineering Degree from Lego’s and Hot Wheels when I was a kid. Just getting out there and working with your hands and seeing yourself succeeding is probably the biggest thing I could tell somebody who is building out of their garage. Don’t get in a hurry. Don’t rush to finish it. Do it right the first time. Take your time and live that passion. Put that passion into the car.

No Limits: Most of our members have cars from the 40’s, 50’s , and 60’s. These cars always need suspension upgrades. Would you recommend a full custom chassis or component parts such as front ends, brakes, etc. ?

Dave Kindig: Typically when we build a car, we do it differently than a lot of guys who would go to a junk yard and cut out (say) a Mustang II front end and try and graft that on to the car. And, in terms of drivability, you’ve got to recognize that you’re buying something that is 20-30 years old and you’re grafting it in with (possibly) worn out bushings. Plus, you can’t just shorten a tie rod and think the front end will steer properly. The geometry changes.

So we would rather buy a new full custom chassis or specialized front clip (if no chassis was available). I personally prefer a full chassis. All of the engineering has been done. They’ve done all the hard work and basically you just put it under the car. You have that cool classic look of the vehicle and all that modern technology. You’re money ahead. Especially if you’re paying somebody. You don’t want to pay someone to put a bunch of junk yard parts under your car and hope that it works. Then come to find out it doesn’t and you’re out all that money. By the time you have paid to make it right you could have bought a full custom chassis. So pay a few extra bucks and get a full frame and graft it in because that is well engineered. There are some great manufacturers. We use Art Morrison frames because they fit perfectly and they’ll do universal frames and custom frames. They have so many applications for vehicles that are just able to be swapped over and bolted in. And all the geometry is correct.

No Limits: We know you’ve done hundreds of projects, give us a few of your favorite builds.

Dave Kindig: The GM Future Liner was a big big challenge. That was a massive project. The most hours we’ve ever put into a vehicle. The Phantom Fleetside was actually something I wanted to build for myself. That was the Suburban we turned into a truck. That was a great build.

A good friend of mine. I’ve built a couple of cars for him. He is actually replacing all nine cars in his collection with Kindigit cars. We’re on car #3 right now. Ron Niece’s 65 GTO – which I’ll be driving on the Legends Tour this year from Illinois to Texas. Really excited for that one.

Blue Suede Shoes (1959 Buick Invicta) -- is another. 

Here’s the problem when someone asks me what is my favorite car – It’s the next one that I finish.

Season 3 (of Bitchin’ Rides) will have some really cool stuff including the 1955 Ford F100 pickup that I have sitting outside my booth here at Goodguys. That one hasn’t been seen on television yet, but it’s basically a mix between a super car and a farm truck. Lot of really trick stuff but we tried to keep it still looking classic. That’s really my style line. I like to keep things looking like they would still be in style 20 years from now. I didn’t make a spaceship out of them. Technology-wise we use stuff that’s proven; that works really well and get in them-drive them-and enjoy them.

No Limits: What are the biggest problems you’ve encountered in your builds – skip the Future Liner

Dave Kindig: Well there are always difficulties. If it were easy, then I think everybody would be doing it and then it wouldn’t be cool. Everything’s a challenge – trying to stay unique; stay clean; stay true to what the car was. Trying to build within a budget is probably the biggest challenges for us. My creativity goes well past. My focus is never about the money, it’s about the art. If I’m doing a good job, I figure I’m getting paid. So you concentrate on what the art is that you’re doing.

Those are some of the biggest challenges facing us. That and being able to keep up with the demand. We have a really long waiting list to get in, which is unfortunate. Over 85 cars on the waiting list. That’s a little over 3 years, maybe 4. A typical build for us is 9 months to 12 months on the average – unless it’s the GM Future Liner -- that was closer to 19 months !

I’ve got great guys so I don’t have the challenge of keeping guys in the shop. I’m always adding to the machinery and guys who are there. I take care of them and their families and they take care of mine. So it’s been a really great trade off. Challenges – if it’s worth doing you’re always going to have challenges.

No Limits: Dave on behalf of all of our readers, I thank you for the time you have taken with us. I would like to present to you this plate signifying you as an Honorary Member of The Automotive History Preservation Society for all your work in the automotive field. Looking forward to Season 3 and beyond.

A special thank you to the Goodguys staff who arranged this interview and provided valuable assistance during the process.

Kindigit Design had a huge display at the Goodguys 30th West Coast Nationals with Dave Kindig and several of his fantastic automotive works of art

The "Copper Caddy" - a 1960 Cadillac chopped top coupe

Dave Kindig's 1968 White Chevelle

The 1939 GM FuturLiner -- Kindigit Design's biggest project -- Dave said it took 19 months to complete

The 1959 Buick Invicta -- Blue Suede Shoes

The 1955 Ford -- F 5.8 to be featured in Series 3 of Bitchin' Rides this fall on Discovery TV

The supercharged Ford engine in the Ford pickup - Dave wanted it to be part super car and part farm truck !

The 1950 Phantom Fleetside - designed by Dave Kindig -- one of Dave's favorites -- he built it for himself