Auto International: Icon Motors creates restomods of a special kind: retrospective

Jonathan Ward is a crazy dog ​​- a little bit British, a little bit American and in any case badly car-mad.

Auto International: Icon Motors creates restomods of a special kind: retrospective

Jonathan Ward is a crazy dog ​​- a little bit British, a little bit American and in any case badly car-mad. He can't remember exactly when and where he fell in love with the '60s Toyota Land Cruiser J4 generation. From initial handicraft work in his own garage, his company TLC eventually became one of the best-known Land Cruiser restorers. But with the rising retro wave of the early 2000s, it wasn't just the Land Cruiser. Icon Motors meanwhile not only turns historical Toyota Land Cruisers into trendy vehicles, but also the now even trendier Ford Bronco or a Jeep Wrangler. Not much more remains of the original model than a few screws, the bulkhead and the stamped chassis number. The demand has been huge for more than a decade - Jon Ward and his team can hardly keep up with the orders.

"We offer puristic off-roaders for men who already have everything," says John Ward, "as with most of our models, this Land Cruiser is also fitted with a 5.3-liter V8 from the Corvette. 350 hp – nobody really needs more. We don't paint. I can't stand varnishes. Most models are powder-coated.” The Toyota sign is gone from the all-new Land Cruiser with the black cloth hat, as is the blue Ford plum on the shimmering gray Bronco, the small-block V8 bubbling outside in the lurline Avenue of Chatsworth, half an hour northwest of Los Angeles, waiting for its test drive. "I just want to present historic cars with a new, modern look," explains Ward.

So that there are no misunderstandings: almost all components in an Icon Land Cruiser are new parts. Only the chassis number remains the same - because otherwise there would be no approval. New chassis, new axles, engine, gearbox and of course superstructure and interior. Prices range from $200,000 or more. If that's not exclusive, Icon Motors has recently created something even cooler: a Mercedes 300 SEL of the W 109 series. Its performance is not evident from the faded paintwork alone. On the boot lid on the right is a 6.2 and given the state of restoration inside and the chassis, it can hardly be assumed that Icon Motors, as the initiator of the project, committed itself here or simply used the wrong combination of numbers. The 476 kW / 647 hp supercharged V8 of the Corvette ZR1 thumps under the hood – together with the 4L85E automatic transmission, so that the 800 Nm can also hit the ground via the 28 mm tires on the rear axle. "Modern elements, such as a powerful new engine and an improved sound system, have been incorporated into the original vehicle layout in a discreet and contemporary manner, resulting in a striking classic that also performs well in modern driving conditions," emphasizes Jonathan Ward. Fully restored, the Icon Mercedes 300 SEL 6.2 Derelict costs at least $450,000.

However, the main business is with off-roaders, and the casual Icon models are not fun vehicles that only shine on Hollywood Boulevard. Jon Ward is a true four-wheeler. The Bronco, CJ and Land Cruiser are tested in the tough terrain of Utah, Nevada or Arizona - where most standard all-wheel drive vehicles have long since said goodbye. The main customers come from the USA, but at least 20 manufactured vehicles go overseas every year. The real problem is the long construction period of up to twelve months. “Customers who contact us want a car right away,” says Ward, “they're not used to waiting. A lot of people hang up when they hear they have to wait eight months or more.”

In connection with gigantic wheelsets and the matt powder look, residents and tourists of the metropolis Los Angeles crane their necks day after day. The equally technical and puristic icon look with high-tech winches, LED lamps at the front and rear or the noble fabric roof, which is specially supplied by a German roof specialist, is well received. The sparse instrumentation fits perfectly with the cool styled interior. According to the customer's wishes, the financially strong occupants sit on washable off-road seats and operate the few functions in the interior using solid aluminum rotary switches. Ward is a purist, but if you absolutely want to, you can get your Icon Land Cruiser with exclusive leather seats, automatic air conditioning, a navigation system or electrically extendable running boards. Ward has even installed night vision devices in his all-terrain vehicles.