I stopped by a shop in Chatsworth California on a swing out to Los Angeles after my trip to Aspen Colorado. ICON was started by Jonathan Ward building Toyota Land Cruisers, but they have grown into a huge shop building all sorts of neat cars.
Jonathan built personal cars that melded vintage styling with modern power and conveniences that caused friends and admirers to have cars built for them in the same fashion. I saw my first ICON 4X4 at Letterman’s garage, and was really impressed with the build quality.
Today, ICON’s builds start with a fresh custom Art Morrison chassis and a Chevy LS engine. The customer can order nearly anything they want for their custom car, but ICON has a pretty good idea what works from having Jonathan stress test everything they sell!!
I brought Ron Karp with me, and old time hod rodder to visit the ICON Shop and it was neat to hear the changes in the hot-rodding business from Ron’s time to the modern era.
The trend today is to find solid cars with heavy “patina” and what they call their “Derilict” line of customs.
Perhaps the only outward appearance is the Icon badge.
What was really cool about this car was the LS powered engine underneath “patinized” and custom modified to look like an old Hemi, complete with aging and surface rust! The attention to detail to make this kind of stuff from scratch and then make it look old was amazing. Those who recognize this kind of work and give it a nod is in a whole other level of appreciation.
The business has exploded for ICON and they’re finding themselves building all sorts of customs. Imagine this Rolls Royce with reliable hydraulics, and 5 times the horsepower!?
The Hot Rodding business is ever changing, and if you want to compete, you have to stay on the cutting edge. According to Jonathan, the future of custom cars will be in electric powered hot-rods. Tesla has proven the power and performance is there, so it only makes sense for the custom industry to embrace more power! Hearing Jonathan’s excitement about his ideas and plans for the next car was infectious, and I couldn’t wait to see this next project come to life!
The electric motors (sorry about the crappy photo) fit where the transmission would have been, so imagine the power controller housed in place of the traditional engine, made to look like a vintage flathead or big block?! Cool stuff.
Speaking of the next ICON project, It’s going to be a Ferrari 250GTE!!
This shell has been languishing for years after it lost its drivetrain, gauges, and frame to build a replica, so ICON bought it for their inventory. Tom Wilson, the keeper of the GTE Registry, did some research and found this body was once attached to SN3403.
Putting good use to this body in the ICON way is an alternative to letting this body sit unused. Finding a correct chassis, engine, and missing pieces would not make this an economically feasible project, but making this car into a ICON car could pique a lot of interest. I’m certainly excited to see what Jonathan comes up with!
I listened to all the possibilities kicking around Jonathan’s head about a Maranello V-12 engine, or the usual LS powerplant. I’m excited about his work with the electric motors, so maybe he’ll consider making this into an electric powerplant.
Thanks Jonathan and Lee for the tour, and I look forward to hearing about the next step with this GTE!