The Catbird’s Seat



For 16 years, Jonathan Ward and his wife, Jamie, have claimed a business model driven by the design of a singular lunatic.  His vision, his words.

Sandwiched between photo shoots with Car & Driver Magazine and Autoweek, Jonathon had temporarily handed me off to Craig Wood, his project and restoration manager of 7 years.  I had asked for 15 minutes.  I got 90.

Loving the styling but hating the performance of the old Land Cruisers, Jeeps and Broncos, led these guys to start building their own, but based on the familiar vintage look loved by all.

Only the look is throw-back.  Everything on the vehicles is assembled out of military grade hardware.

ICON Reincarnated Bronco
  • FJ’s and CJ’s get a 5.7 L VORTEC motor
  • Broncos have the Ford Coyote 5 L (just like new Mustangs) with approximately 400 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of torque.


Looks only get you so far.  Grounded in lessons learned off-road racing in the Baja, from tire print up, the vehicles are manufactured to be performance superheroes.


   So who’s a typical (as if there were such a thing) client:

  1. Department of Defense (YOU DIDN’T SEE NUTTIN’)
  2. 45-65 yr old males
  3. Those looking for simplicity, longevity, durability, and the best
  4. Wants something that looks cool and will run circles around the originals


So what’s it like to drive?  I put on my best Irwin Rommel face and took an FJ44 out for a ride.  Zip-down windows don’t always match with drilled aluminum pedals, but here it works, and turns a few miles of L.A. roads into an experience.

  • Aircraft grade interior with a dashboard feel of Bell & Ross meets pilot.
  • Nike assisted design touches
  • Extremely comfortable but no nonsense—vinyl interiors, because according to Mr. Ward, “leather doesn’t last for shit”.


Heavy until you step on the gas, tons of torque propel you across the pavement much, much faster than you are prepared for.  And steering is surprisingly light considering that these things look like a knife fight waiting to happen.

Driving one of these, people recognize them for being unique.  To me, that’s the point of owning something like this, a simple display of wanting to go your way on your terms. 

If you wondered, they may do a cool “redo” time permitting–I saw a celebrity AMG G-Wagon in for a dose of magic, and a military toy owned by the ex-governor of California (think Austrian)

I don’t know how to soften the blow.  North of $150k because “labor-intensive” and “limited production” (less than 30 total a year) are never cheap.

Well done ICON.

Visit them when you’re in L.A. and mention my name for a test drive.


See you on down the road,



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About the Author: Dave Miller

Dave Miller With Lotus GT
Dave Miller drives the fastest, coolest, sexiest cars on the planet. He travels the world uncovering the hidden gems in luxury transportation, meeting the owners, and connecting with extraordinary car enthusiasts. Dave is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and writes for various publications. In addition to, you can follow Dave's adventures via Drive With Dave Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tune into the Drive with Dave Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

One Comment

  1. adminhoot May 16, 2012 at 1:48 PM - Reply

    Greetings ICON friends and family,

    May 6th marks16 years of our business. We have grown…

    See their new location and info here: Thanks J

    9601 Lurine Ave
    Chatsworth, CA 91311

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