Where a Derelict Becomes an ICON


icon 4x4 jonathan ward round six podcast

Here on episode sixty-five, we sit down with ICON 4×4 and TLC founder and CEO Jonathan Ward. It’s a laid back, candid look at building cool vehicles in a very technology-driven world. A self-starter in definition as well as practice, Jon’s childhood acting days (from a chance shot in Peter Pan to Charles in Charge to a stalker incident) and an interest in restoring old tech and cars lead to starting a business. We explore the passion that drives ICON, the idea behind the brand, and the marketing approach.


  • Industrial design meets entrepreneurship
  • Raymond Leowy
  • Avoiding the “theme” build while staying true to the vehicle’s character
  • Steering clear of bad design directions
  • Crafting a unique aesthetic
  • Creating  brand identity
  • Working to make a unique statement without turning down the bread and butter work
  • The balance of loving what you do and loving the customer
    – When to fire a client
  • Steering the client via renderings
  • Nostalgia as a motivator in building a project
  • The gender difference in styles/needs/wants
    – Women VS men with regard to needs and wants in a vehicle
  • “Corrupted by the perversions of modernity”
    – A discussion on tech and obsolescence
  • Being an “old school martyr”
    – Brian proposes the “Tune-ruining choke knob” feature
  • Changing the mood and personality of a vehicle just through exhaust note
  • A “rockabilly” bar cruiser Hudson Hornet
  • “Build it like you’d keep it”
  • The challenges of working with obscure vehicles
    – “It’s like the dot-com era for hot rodders”
  • Working with technology like 3D printing and composites
    – The “pucker moment” when you need an impossible-to-find part
  • Watching tech and changing attitudes toward old-school craftsmanship
  • Research and design on the fly
  • Getting stuck in a rut in your craft and not seeing the advantage of pushing forward
    – Looking forward at nanotech, hydrophobics and more
  • Drawing inspiration from a wide variety of sources
  • Passion builds versus assembly line product
  • The first resto project: a ’55 Ford
  • Meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov
    – Hitching a ride to a cattle call and landing a role in Peter Pan on Broadway
  • The advantages of not having a board to answer to when working to preserve the passion and DNA of a brand
  • Purity of execution working through a series of compromises
  • Going international with SEMA Australia
  • A discussion on the appreciation of vintage Americana
  • A benchracing session complete with dream project ideas



1958 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud ICON Derelict

This video is an in-depth review of our latest ICON Derelict, a 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Come for a drive while I explain what it takes to create these unique rolling sculptures! icon4x4.com

Restored 1983 FJ40 by TLC4X4.com!

Check out the latest TLC Stage 3 Restoration! www.tlc4x4.com



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Brian Stupski

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