Industry Insider Interview – Jonathan Ward of TLC Icon 4×4

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TLC Icon 4×4 is the creation of Jonathan Ward, a car enthusiast with a passion for off-highway vehicles including the Toyota and Jeep brands.  Last year, Jonathan and his team (who currently specialize in hand-built vehicles based on the old Toyota FJ series) decided it was time to hand-build a vehicle based on the Jeep platform.  Several months later, “The Dog” was born from the roots of the old Willys CJ3-B vehicle.  Below is an inside look at TLC by its owner, Johnathan Ward:

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JPFreek: TLC has been around now for well over a decade and until recently was focused specifically on the Toyota market. Tell us how TLC started, and what makes TLC so unique to the off-highway market.

TLC: My wife, Jamie and I, initially started TLC with a focus on sales, service, restoration, and parts specifically for all vintage Toyota Land Cruisers. Over the years we found more and more clients who asked for the vintage aesthetic, yet with more contemporary performance. SO, we still do stock restorations, yet the trend went towards modern fuel injected V8’s and turbo diesels with improved steering, suspension, seating etc…

In 2000, Toyota hired us to design and build three vehicles that were the beginning of the FJ Cruiser development. Toyota voted and chose their favorite of the three, which was then sent to CALTY, their SoCal design studio. They then “contemporized” the design into what we know now to be the FJ Cruiser today, yet left us yearning to realize the design as per our prototypes. So we approached Toyota for their blessing in 2004, and explained the idea behind ICON. Toyota was gracious and supportive, so we went for it.

We debuted the first ICON FJ40 at the SEMA show on Toyota’s display in 2005, and launched the new brand in January 2006. We eventually developed into three body styles available in three Design Packages, with a host of available options. We have built and delivered over fifty FJ ICON to date.

We like to think ICON is unique in that it still captures the spirit of the original designs, yet is based in Solid Works and is all CAD-designed, resulting in a very strong, long lasting, and highly capable vehicle. Our goal is to revive the classic American industrial design quality and attention to detail, long ago abandoned by the automotive industry at large. Revisiting classic designs from our collective past that make us all smile, in a modern context.

JPFreek: Buzz has been brewing ever since the ICON brand recently announced development of a new vehicle to its product lineup called “The Dog,” a vehicle based on the Jeep CJ3B. What was the focus in adding a Jeep-based product to the ICON portfolio, and what will be some key features of this vehicle that make it unlike any other CJ3B?

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