Pay close attention to fast-talking Kindig-It Design owner Dave Kindig or else you’ll miss hearing about the details that make a Kindig-It build so special. Like the modern-day A/C system his team concealed beneath the hand-crafted aluminum subfloor on a 1934 Dodge sedan. Crawl underneath Justin and Randi Semadeni’s inherited ’34 that can be traced back to its original owner—great grandma Semadeni—and the fully restored steel floorboard leaves no indication of the car’s climate control bits that’ve been carefully stowed away just above.
The 14-month-long build’s Dark Desert Sage mix of PPG and its Bentley Glacier leather interior reveal the sedan’s makeover, but the attention Kindig-It’s crew paid to keeping things as period-correct as possible all the while subtly delivering the car into the twenty-first century shows. One-off EVOD Industries wheels wrapped inside of vulcanized rubber-striped Continental tires retain the vintage look as does the Dakota Digital instrument cluster that’s fully electronic but still based upon the original gauge design. Underneath the hood sits a 5.7L Hemi V8 that, according to Kindig, with its Red Ram valve covers still retains that old-school feel. “The owners wanted to keep it as original as possible,” he says. “They knew what they wanted from the beginning.”
It’s builds like this that Kindig says helped formed the Salt Lake City, Utah business into the world-renowned restoration and customization shop it’s become. And builds like the 1968 Mustang he and his team overhauled from the ground up back in 2009. “That was an extremely killer build,” Kindig says about the 992hp supercharged fastback its owner calls The Boss and was decorated as AutoRama Utah’s Finest as well as Goodguys Rod and Custom finalist that same year. “Everything had purpose,” he says about the stretched wheelbase, the slivered rear bumper, the wing integrated into the trunk, and the dual stripes that go beyond skin deep, flowing into the engine bay and underneath the chassis onto the Kindig-It-made belly pan. “Every panel was massaged and almost everything was custom built,” Kindig says about the car that, even six years after being completed, remains one of his favorites.
Kindig, who’s now customized hundreds of hot rods and stars on his own TV show, Bitchin’ Rides, which airs on Velocity channel, didn’t end up in his own 27,000 square-foot facility and in front of the camera overnight. “I earned my engineering degree with Legos and Hot Wheels,” he says about his desire to take things apart and put them back to together how he saw fit early on. “Model cars weren’t safe in my house for more than a week.” For Kindig, the question continually looms large: “What if the factory had done this?”
As it turns out, the factory almost never does, which is where Kindig comes into play and has since his start in the industry nearly two-and-a-half decades ago. It took almost nine years working in the high-performance coatings field, but soon enough Kindig’s abilities to conceptualize and render the sort of amazing cars he’s become known for were duly noted. “Pretty soon, everyone thought I was a big deal,” he says before telling of how he liquidated all $4,800 from his 401K to venture out on his own. In two years, he outgrew his first garage. Today, Kindig-It’s made up of 26 employees that together can machine, fabricate, paint, and wire their way toward some of the most impressive builds you’ve ever seen.
And some you might not’ve, like the 1960 Chevy Bel Air Kindig calls Bella that was rebuilt from the bottom up and, if you ask him, “won everything.” Or the 1937 candy-red Chevy that Kindig and crew stretched, chopped, widened, and fitted with suicide doors that took SEMA GM Design Award honors in 2007.
But, mostly, we’re talking about restorations and build-ups you’ve most certainly seen. Not knowing about the 1939 GM Futurliner that Kindig-It was commissioned to restore would be about as difficult as the Futurliner itself is gargantuan, standing at 11 feet tall and 33 feet long. The art-deco bus designed that same year for the New York World’s Fair was commissioned some 75 years later for Kindig and company to redo. Which is exactly what they did, reverse engineering and building from scratch each piece needed to historically preserve the one of only 10 like-minded behemoth of all buses that are still alive.
“If I can dream it, I can build it.” That’s what Kindig says about the sort of high-profile projects that roll through his shop that, in some cases, cost well over $100,000 to complete. It’s also what he likely said the first time he lopped his first Hot Wheels apart, all in an effort to do what the factory wouldn’t.
Words by Aaron Bonk