Summer Road Trips in the Kindred Bronco
One Summer. One Bronco. 5,000 Miles of Testing.
From day one at Kindred, we’ve worked toward making the dream of owning a vintage car an attainable reality. For us, this has meant more than just restoring old vehicles with new technology: it’s a commitment to providing reliability, comfort, and accessibility, all transparently cataloged from start to finish.
Part of that process includes testing – and a lot of it.
Since starting on our first Bronco build, we’ve accumulated over 10,000 hours of research, design, and testing to create a beautifully simple and classic take on an automotive icon that, to us, is the embodiment of adventure - both in form and function. The Kindred team has painstakingly considered and engineered every detail of our Bronco, as if it were the personal vehicle of each member of our team.
Perhaps no one personifies this sense of ownership and passion more than our Pre-Production Director, Juan Segarra.
It was early June when Juan’s summer plans started to pile up: a couple of events in Oregon, a friend’s birthday in San Diego, and a tough-to-get campsite reservation in Sequoia National Park.
So, with a few design details and performance components left to dial in ahead of the assembly of our first customer Broncos, Juan decided to turn his personal travels into a series of test drives.
At this point it’s worth noting that Juan’s life revolves around cars. Starting in high school, Juan job-shadowed at an auto shop involved in competitive racing. Fast forward eight years, Juan’s traveled the world to work on race cars and is Operations Manager of The Sendy Club, four-time Overall Winners of The Pikes Peak "Race to the Clouds" International Hill Climb.
At Kindred, Juan brings his racing knowledge and experience to the world of vintage automobiles to lead his team during the assembly process. He loves giving new life to models that would otherwise be rusting in fields, restoring them to their former glory while designing new components that make each restomod better than ever before.
Juan also just loves to drive. He loves driving his Yellow Viper into the office and he loves test-driving our Bronco to see how it performs in different situations.
Needless to say: Juan doesn’t need much of an excuse to take our Bronco out. But with over 5,000 miles, sweltering summer temperatures, and some (mildly) gnarly terrain to take on, he decided to make the most of it and see - firsthand - how our Broncos will handle long stretches of road and mixed terrain.
Here's how Juan and The Bronco fared.
Leg No. 01 (July 15-16)
Lake Shasta, Southern Oregon, North Coast California
Total Miles: 788
Tested: New Front and Rear Springs
High and Low Temperatures: 112º H; 66º L
Max Elevation: 4,310’ (Siskiyou Pass)
Points of Interest: Shasta-Trinity National Forest; Medford, OR; Grants Pass, OR Eureka, CA
Being relatively new to Northern California and eager to see how recent adjustments would affect the Kindred Bronco’s performance “in the wild,” Juan took off on his first weekend trip to Oregon.
Aside from the breathtaking views and scenic hikes during those two days, what stood out to Juan was the Bronco’s versatility. Juan, spotting Lake Shasta from the road, pulled off onto a dirt road, drove right up to the lake, hopped in, and was back in the driver’s seat without a second thought. Refreshment that lesser sedans – and even some modern SUVs – just couldn’t handle.
Results: Superior stance, smoother ride. The springs Juan tested made for a smoother ride, greater off road capabilities (more on this later), as well as a stance fit for a first generation Bronco. We’ve since kept the springs in our test Bronco and will outfit all future Kindred Broncos with the same ones going forward.
Leg No. 02 (July 21-23)
Tom’s Offroad Rock & Roll Car Show - Bronco Roundup, Oregon
Total Miles: 810
Tested: New Stance and Volume Knob
High and Low Temperatures: 112º; 64º L
Max Elevation: 6,178’ (Crater Lake)
Points of Interest: Crater Lake; Lake Siskiyou
Juan returned to Oregon to meet up with around 100 Bronco owners at the Bronco Roundup at Tom’s Offroad Rock & Roll Car Show and thanks to its new springs, our test Bronco’s tougher stance impressed.
It’s always a treat to meet folks as passionate about Broncos as we are. The feedback and exchange of Bronco insights were worth the trip alone. Juan and the crew traded tales and tips over beer at the Walkabout Brewing Co. and even though Juan missed out on some world-class BBQ, he did manage to snag some Hawaiian food from a food truck that he described as nothing short of “excellent."
Results: The new stance looked as good as the volume knob made everything sound. Small-seeming details like these reveal themselves over extended stretches of highway.
While the Kindred Bronco comes equipped with a touchscreen to handle many of the Bronco’s multimedia controls, we discovered pretty quickly that audio volume shouldn’t necessarily be one of them. But Juan was happy to report that after several days of road trip DJing and driving with the new stance and volume knob, he returned satisfied with the adjustments that made for a more enjoyable experience.
Leg No. 03 (August 4-7)
Total Miles: 1,045
Tested: Highway Driving with the Top Off
High and Low Temperatures: 102º H; 61º L
Max Elevation: 4,220’ (Tejon Pass)
Points of Interest: Japanese Friendship Bell; Redondo Beach; USS Midway Museum
With a San Diego birthday party already on Juan's calendar for the weekend, what better way to let loose than to show up topless? (Well, at least the Bronco, in a brand-new bikini top instead of its hard top, was kinda topless.) San Diego, between its sunny beaches and the vibrant nightlife of its legendary Gaslamp Quarter, epitomizes the laid-back SoCal vibes. The Bronco - rugged enough to handle sandy terrain yet elegantly bedecked in leather trim interiors - arrived in style and fit right in.
Results: A secure top and surprisingly comfortable drive. When leaving our HQ on Mare Island with the roof off, Juan anticipated lots of pit stops to re-tie the new bikini top and a deafening drive. He was happy to report that the Bronco defied his expectations. The bikini top held up nicely and while the wind was no doubt loud, Juan was struck by the sound insulation from the interior, as well as the protection he experienced from the windshield.
Leg No. 04 (September 2-4)
Trail of 100 Giants, Sequoia National Park
Total Miles: 654
Tested: Off Road and Trail
High and Low Temperatures: 85 H; 54º L
Max Elevation: 5,300’ (Peppermint Falls)
Points of Interest: Trail of 100 Giants; Peppermint Falls
While going off road isn’t strictly necessary to access one of the world’s premier groves of giant sequoias, it sure is way more fun. After a thrilling drive off the beaten path, our heart rates were brought back to resting within moments of setting foot on the iconic Trail of 100 Giants.
Hiking in the presence of sequoias as wide as 20 feet in diameter, as tall as 220 feet high, and nearly 2,000 years old will really put any worries into perspective. Having been around since the Roman Empire and outlived all its emperors, these trees might just have a thing or two to teach us about patience. Whether it’s the soft rustling of leaves or the secluded nature of the trail itself, the calming effect of a stroll along the 1.3 mile path is undeniable.
“There are a lot of other cool trucks out there, but they don’t deliver an experience quite like this."
Results: Ready to tackle any light off road adventure. "Every Bronco that we build should have basic light off road capabilities," says Juan. Having already validated this at an off road park earlier this year, and with our suspension higher than the original stock Bronco, we knew going in that we'd be just fine amongst the majestic arbors of Sequoia National Park. Camping in Sequoia really is like teleporting into the past, and the Kindred Bronco is the classic time machine that lets you bring the best of modernity with you.
Thanks for Riding Shotgun…
The open road calls to all of us. Which is why it’s important to Juan that when you answer, our Broncos are equipped to handle whatever your journey throws at you while delivering a driving experience to be cherished every time.
As one of the first Kindred Bronco test drivers and relatively new to the West Coast, Juan didn’t need too many excuses to rack up the miles exploring a side of America he’d never seen before. But getting to do so with one foot on the pedal of a modern 4 V8 engine packing 460 HP and the other planted firmly in an icon of the 1960s? “There are a lot of other cool trucks out there,” says Juan, “But they don’t deliver an experience quite like this.”
While we're sorry you couldn't come on the road with us these past few months, we hope you enjoyed this peek into our process and life on the road as a Kindred Bronco owner. See you out there!