Dave Kindig Breaks Down the ’52 Pontiac Chieftain from Bitchin’ Rides

posted: 12/13/16
by: Chris L
pre-resto pontiac
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Kevin and Don moving the Pontiac into the garage.

How did you find the '52 Pontiac?

Dave: My friend Don Heidt and his wife Jackie had the car kicking around for about 10 years. Don always thought that it was a super clean car, he's always loved Pontiacs and he wanted this one to be his end all be all Pontiac convertible. He thought the car was in pretty solid condition to begin with, but when he brought the car down to us we ultimately found out that was not totally true.


Before Pontiac
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Pontiac arriving at Kindigit Designs.

Have you ever worked on any Pontiacs like this before?

Dave: You know, we've never worked on one before and they're actually pretty rare cars. Most people in the early 50's really liked GM style cars, whether it's a Pontiac, Oldsmobile, or a Chevrolet; these were typically less notable. You really just don't see the '52 Pontiac and that makes it a big challenge, as they don't really make any trim for those types of cars.


Pontiac Sketch
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Sketch of the Pontiac by Dave Kindig.

When you first saw the car, what were your initial thoughts on where you wanted to take it?

Dave: When we first saw the car, we had to take into account all of the damage that had been done to it, and there were obviously some areas that had to be taken care of rust wise. When we finally got done with soda blasting the car, there was hardly anything left from the first 18 inches all the way down. We definitely had our work cut out for us, but overall that's typically the process with all of these cars.

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Repairing the '52 Pontiac.

What were some of the other challenges you had with the build?

Dave: Once we dried our eyes after we realized all of the sheet metal work that was needed, basically, what we did was outfit the entire bottom of the car to fit the new chassis and the new independent front and rear suspension. We had to do this while ensuring there was enough room to still put the convertible top down. And, of course make it look like it was born that way. We don't want to put chuck wagon wheels on a spaceship, so to speak, or vice versa. So, it was important to us that we kept the classic style line, and build the floor back the way it should be. Those are some of the biggest challenges, putting all of that modern technology in it while still keeping the car looking classic.

Red Interior
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Berry red interior on the Pontiac.

What are some parts of the build that separate it from a lot of the other custom cars you see today?

Dave: We kept all of the original style trim on the car. We perfected all it by chroming all of the stainless, which is difficult in itself, but especially when you're trying to keep all of the classic lines to it. We also got rid of the skirts, which was a big notable thing for us. I wanted to make sure it still had that Driving Ms. Daisy classic look, but yet a lot of performance parts. So, the LS3 with the Magnusson supercharger on it. The tuned suspension, with both independent front and rear suspension. The one-off wheels with the wide whites built into a '20, so we could put the big brakes on there, 'cause we know we can go, but we wanted to make sure we can stop. Then there were also the classic colors that we picked out, the Porsche Panamera Platinum and the '55 Mercedez Berry leather and I absolutely love that contrast. It's also funny, because I was thinking of using those colors in my next personal build and I ultimately gave the colors to Don and Jackie 'cause I love those guys.

Pontiac Engine
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The Bitchin' Rides crew put this massive engine in the Pontiac.

What other builds can we look forward to in this season of Bitchin' Rides?

Dave: We've got some really cool stuff coming up. The second to last episode is a black '68 Camaro. Black is one of my favorite colors on a car, as it really shows off the body lines. We perfected the body on this car and it's just absolutely like glass. With a red interior and great contrast, it's got that Hot Wheels feel with the big five spoke polished wheels and big brakes. And of course, up last we have the '55 Nomad- that thing is over the top! We debuted this car at the 2016 SEMA Show, Pearl White, LS7, Art Morrison frame, this car has a ton of awesome stuff. So stay tuned for more!

'52 Pontiac Chieftain
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The finished Chieftain.
Watch the Chieftain come to life on VelocityGO!
About the blog:
We sat down with Dave Kindig to chat about the unbelievable \'52 Pontiac Chifetain that was debuted on Season 3 of Bitchin\' Rides.
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