Jonathan Ward’s company, Icon, is best known for producing stunning rebuilds of the Toyota FJ Land Cruiser, the Jeep CJ and, most recently, the original Ford Bronco. Icon vehicles are built without compromise, and priced accordingly.
That raises the question of how many buyers will actually take a $150,000 Icon FJ series truck hard-core off-roading. The vehicle is more than capable, but risking scratches and dents in a truck that can cost as much as a Porsche 911 Turbo seems almost like sacrilege to many.
Enter Icon’s street-only “Derelict Series.” You could call them rat rods, but that misses the point entirely; in fact, Derelicts are part museum exhibit, part resto-rod and all fun and games behind the wheel.
Ward’s daily driver is a Derelict, built from the unholy marriage of a 1952 DeSoto and a similar vintage Chrysler Town & Country. Based on its outward appearance, no car thief would ever give it a second glance; the primary finish is rust, offset by a healthy amount of cracked paint and Bondo.
The chrome trim is pitted and worn, and the best you can say about the car is that it’s glass is intact. Fire up the engine and climb behind the wheel, however, and all is not as it appears. First, that’s a new Chrysler 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 under the hood, and the car rides on a custom-fabricated (but modern) chassis, complete with a custom suspension.
Behind those mysterious brown wheels, Wilwood six-piston calipers ensure maximum deceleration, while features like sound insulation, an adjustable steering column, high-end audio (with Bluetooth connectivity) and a modern air conditioner ensure year-round passenger comfort.
Attention to detail abounds as well. The airbox was made from an old breadbox, while a vintage whisky bottle serves as a radiator catch tank. Look close enough, and you’ll even see Icon’s trademark lizard on the hood, even though few will know what that means.
While some may shrug off Icon’s Derelict series as rolling trash, we embrace them and would probably grin as much as Leno if given a chance to drive one. Not only could you park a Derelict anywhere, the car’s engineering ensures that you’ll enjoy the ride to get there, too.