Custom Catch – The Kindig It Design Team Goes Overboard to Craft a Custom CF1 for Rick and Mary Mezich
One of the appealing things about customizing cars is the chance to test your own design abilities. Will it look better with a different grille? Custom taillights? A chopped top? Many gearheads grew up dreaming about being car designers, and custom builds give them a taste of that experience.
Dave Kindig understands that better than most. He’s been fortunate to turn his automotive obsession into a fruitful career designing and building custom cars at his shop, Kindig It Design, and sharing that enthusiasm with the world on the TV show Bitchin’ Rides. He’s taken things a step further recently by designing and building the CF1, a ground-up, turn-key series of customs he has put into production, giving customers the opportunity to buy one tailored to their personal tastes. He brought five finished examples to Scottsdale for the 25th Southwest Nationals, including this just-finished beauty, number 007, built for Rick and Mary Mezich and unveiled to them at the event.
The Kindig CF1 was obviously inspired by the iconic design of the 1953 Corvette, the first year of production for what came to be known as America’s Sports Car. Early ’Vettes have long been coveted by enthusiasts but have also been noted for their shortcomings. A V8 engine wasn’t even available for the first two years, and the cockpits were notoriously small, resulting in an awkward, uncomfortable driving position for all but the shortest drivers.
Kindig addressed driving comfort by stretching the cockpit of the CF1 4.5-inches compared to an original Corvette, giving driver and passenger more elbow- and legroom. He also moved the firewall forward to improve legroom and designed the floor pans to drop down between the frame rails, lowering the seating position. This is especially helpful considering the lower, heavily raked windshield.
CF1 bodies are built from carbon fiber by Doug’s Performance, and they incorporate several additional enhancements to the Corvette design. Stretched doors open up to the longer cockpit, and the nose has been sectioned so the car’s profile has a stronger taper from rear to front. Enlarged wheel openings allow for modern large-diameter wheels, while the headlights, grille, bumpers, and trim all give a more streamlined, contemporary spin to the classic design. One neat detail is the hinged driver’s side taillight, which opens to reveal the fuel filler – a nod to similar hidden GM designs from the ’50s.
The svelte, lightweight bodies are channeled over Roadster Shop frames designed specifically for the CF1. They’re modified versions of the RS Spec 7, a frame that uses C7 Corvette suspension components scaled down to fit the smaller C1 platform. In other words, it’s a modern supercar independent front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering paired with an independent rear suspension. Big Wilwood 14.5-inch disc brakes provide substantial stopping power.
There’s much more power than a Blue Flame Six under the hood of a CF1! Modern motivation comes from a Lingenfelter-built 427c.i. LS V8 built using an LS7 block with ported LS3 heads. The engine produces 650hp and is fed by Borla stack injection, with Ultimate stainless headers feeding fumes to a Borla exhaust. Details like a Billet Specialties Tru Trac accessory drive and finned valve covers evoking the look of vintage Corvette pieces keep everything clean. A 4L80E transmission backs up the potent engine.
The stunning blue beauty on these pages – lucky number seven – is the result of a chance meeting between Rick Mezich and Dave Kindig. Rick’s name might sound familiar since he appeared on the first season of the TV show Deadliest Catch, which chronicles the dangerous working lives of deep-sea fishermen in Alaska.
“It all started with watching Bitchin’ Rides,” Rick says. “It’s one of my favorite shows. About six years ago, Dave was in the Barrett Jackson skybox at a table near me, and he was so friendly we just started talking. I told him he builds really good-looking cars, and he gave me his card and told me to call when I’m ready to build something. About five years later I got wind of these CF1 roadsters. I heard he was able to fit the big boys in them [Rick is 6ft. 3in. tall] and I called him up to see if he would build me one.”
Kindig is quick to point out that Mezich ordered his car off the menu, so to speak, stretching the boundaries of the standard CF1 options. “There are options to do some custom stuff to make them even more unique,” Dave says, “And then comes along Rick, who is going to take advantage of every bit of that.”
Those special options include extended stacks on the Borla injection protruding through a custom flared cutout in the hood. The 21- and 22-inch wheels are also a custom design penned by Kindig, inspired by a vintage Lamborghini Miura S, machined by Evod, and finished in satin gold to match the paint and accents on the engine, injector stacks, and dash. That golden touch is the perfect complement to the car’s rich and deep custom paint color.
“The color was really challenging,” Rick says. “Dave is a master of colors and there was a concept blue I found a photo of that really intrigued me, which he nailed.” The custom AkzoNobel paint is a deep turquoise hue with enough pearl in it to shift between looking more blue or more emerald green depending on light and angle. It really enhances the shape of the car and feels like a fitting choice for an owner who has spent plenty of time on the open sea.
The paint is contrasted beautifully by the light taupe Eureka leather used by JS Custom Interiors to upholster the cockpit. The material covers custom seats and side panels and is complemented by a gold dash filled with Dakota Digital VHX instruments, Vintage Air, and a hidden Kicker audio system with Bluetooth controls. A Sparc Industries steering wheel tops the Ididit tilt column, with Billet Specialties pedals controlling the throttle and brakes.
As you can imagine, Rick and Mary were all smiles when the car cover was pulled off in Scottsdale to reveal this custom catch – a moment caught on camera for Bitchin’ Rides.
“It’s very bitchin,” Mary said. “And this is very important to Rick to have this Kindig car.”
As for Rick, the smile on his face was unmistakable. “I like the stacks sticking out,” he said. “What a view from the driver’s seat. Unbelievable! It’s more than bitchin!”
Photos by John Jackson, Damon Lee & Steven Bunker