Icon’s Jonathan Ward is a bit of a genius. He takes vintage trucks and off-road vehicles and rebuilds them with modern upgrades. I know, you’re thinking, “Street rodders have been doing this for well over 30 years now. So, why does Jonathan deserve so much praise?”
Well, putting crate drivetrains, custom suspensions and other upgrades onto an vintage vehicle is a tough job. If you can pull that off, you certainly deserve a tip of the cap as a mechanic. The problem is that very few guys that have that kind of mechanical ability also have a great aesthetic sensibility. It’s just two different parts of your brain.
What you end up with is a really well-built car, but with a lightning bolt billet steering wheel and neon lemon paint, finished off with cheapo, Pep Boys chrome add-ons.
This is where Jonathan Ward gets in front of the pack. He has the mechanical savvy to put these cars together, but he notices every little damn thing when it comes to paint, finishes, fasteners and fabric. He geeks out on every single part of the trucks he builds. Everything is the way it is for a reason. Believe me, I’ve talked to him a bunch of times and there’s a story and a reason behind every choice, all the way from the headlights to the gas cap.
Jonathan started out specializing in Toyota Land Cruisers. He realized the body styles were classic, but people wanted them upgraded with air conditioning and power windows—and they wanted them to just work. Tinkering around with an old car every time you want to drive it wears thin in a big hurry.
Last year, he got into redesigning Ford Broncos and he recently brought over a 1965 Dodge D200 crew cab for me to check out. For this one, he took the original Dodge body and put it onto a modern Dodge 3500 Mega Cab. The engine is a 5.9L Cummins diesel that Gale Banks did a bunch of work on and now it makes 975 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear wheels. Again, crazy idea, great execution, but the overall collective feeling you get from all of the textures and finishes is what makes this truck so exceptional.
At first glance, this Dodge just looks like a plain Jane workhorse, but when you look closely, it’s not simple at all. There’s continuity to its understated elegance. For example, the gas cap was designed from scratch with a shape inspired by the truck’s original headlight knob. And the radio knobs are copies of the original ones, except they’re milled out of stainless steel. Of course, the original radio has been gutted and now you can play your iPod through it. The original ashtray has even been repurposed to contain the navigation system.
Where a lot of guys doing a redesign would take every opportunity to draw your eyes to their ride, Jonathan goes the other direction. This truck is more like a super-hot chick who’s just wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. The finishes and everything from the Icon emblem to the stainless steel fasteners, headliner, interior, door handles, all of these things are what really make 2+2=5, design-wise. Jonathan Ward never disappoints.
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