Robert Downey Jr. Is Helping To Restore Classic Cars With Electric Power

Now that Robert Downey Jr. has powered down his Iron Man suit for good, he's focused on powering up classic vehicles with modern technology and electric innovations through the restomod company Kindred Motorworks.

Located in San Rafael, California, Kindred is a passion project for CEO and founder Rob Howard. The company made its debut at Monterey Car Week after obtaining all the necessary funding ($20+ million) over the last two years. And it has some pretty big names on its roster of investors, including Hagerty, the world's largest insurance provider for classic vehicles, and Footprint Coalition Ventures, founded by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey, Jr. His Footprint Coalition is a group of investors and donors who want to scale technologies to help restore the planet.

Howard isn't just an investor or entrepreneur that saw cars as a way to make a quick buck. He's been working on automobiles for most of his life. While growing up in Philadelphia, his dad taught him how to work on cars, and, for the last 20 years, has been under the hood of many of his own classic car restoration projects. He's also a "serial entrepreneur" involved in creating technology-based companies, like a logistics provider that was then sold to Transforce and a same-day delivery company eventually sold to Target (via Tech Crunch).

While restoring a Chevy station wagon, an expensive and challenging project that took him four years to complete, it dawned on him that he could use technology to organize, simplify and streamline the restoration of classic cars. And it could be done repeatedly, in volume, while simultaneously modernizing those cars with the latest safety features, power accouterments, state-of-the-art sound system, rearview camera, Bluetooth, heated seats, and even cupholders.

All aboard the environmentally green love bus!

The company does all this with a proprietary system called "Blueprint." According to Kindred's website, its crew spends over 10,000 hours "prototyping, testing and designing" every model. All this includes building, stripping, and rebuilding a single vehicle numerous times to document every part of the build from every angle thoroughly, from sourcing parts and using the same tools to making the final touches. Ultimately, this creates a set of repeatable, scalable, step-by-step instructions (complete with how-to videos) that nearly anyone could follow, ensuring every single car is built precisely the same way, following the same blueprint. That doesn't mean the vehicles will be made by the cast-offs from the Avengers though. Trained and skilled mechanics will put together parts of the car at stations in an assembly line manner with a Master mechanic overseeing each build (via Tech Crunch).

Design Lead John Aizarini added, "our design philosophy is to modernize vintage vehicles and make them safer, more efficient, and more powerful without losing the spirit of that vehicle."

Kindred is currently offering three classic vehicles, each exemplifying a different car demographic: a Bronco (starting at $169,000), a VW Bus (starting at $199,000) and a Camaro (starting from $149,000). A Chevy 3100 truck is planned for a future release. For a $1,000 deposit, you can pre-order one with an assortment of menu options, but no cars are expected to go into production until sometime in 2024. Kindred's offices may be in San Rafael, but it's still getting its production facility on Mare Island up and running. Howard believes he will be able to get the first cars into customers by the end of '24.

All the muscle, none of the hassle

The Bronco is restored from 1966 to 1975 Ford models, and it is the only one that comes with the choice of either a gas-powered 460hp Ford third-generation Coyote 5.0 V8 engine or a 6.6 kw battery and motor (still in design) with an expected range of 200 miles. The interior can be black or tan, while the exterior can be one of seven colors. Upgrades include the "Family Package," replete with a six-point roll cage, adjustable/removable rear seats, and three-point retractable seat belts. A hard top with locking liftgate and winches on the front or rear bumpers can also be added.

The VW Bus is restored as 1954 to 1967 Volkswagen models and only comes with a 294hp direct drive electric motor with the same 200-mile battery range as the Bronco. It comes in four possible exterior colors and, with the "Tailgate Package" upgrade, makes you feel right at home in your love bus with wrap-around seating, a rotating passenger seat, swappable carpets (with a shag option, of course), a cocktail table and more.

Lastly, the Camaro is restored from the 1969 Chevy model and comes in two different versions, both available (for now) with gas engines. The LS is the tamer with a 495hp GM LS376, 6.2L V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be upgraded to a Tremec T56 Super Magnum six-speed manual transmission. The LT is the bigger, badder version and has a 700hp GM, 6.2L supercharged V8 with the same six-speed Tremec manual transmission. You can upgrade it to an eight-speed GM 8L90 automatic transmission. Both are available in five different colors.

This new age of restomods is sure to be exhilarating, and with Kindred's long-term goal of providing environmentally friendly electric power in all of its classics ... they're meant to be green as well.