Mountain Wheels: Ultra-custom Icon rendition of classic Toyota Land Cruiser is a whole lot of vehicle |

Mountain Wheels: Ultra-custom Icon rendition of classic Toyota Land Cruiser is a whole lot of vehicle

As the ultimate testament to Southern California car restoration culture, the simple-but-exotic FJ44 Icon offers a wild reimagining of an offroad classic.
Courtesy photo

It’s perhaps telling that one of the most exotic examples of the restomod movement — restored and modified classic vehicles updated for the modern market — sat on a Denver street for a year and a half without anyone noticing it.

If an 8-foot-high, slightly Frankensteined, four-door version of a 1967 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser strikes you as being somewhat special, then you might be the kind of customer for the one-of-a-kind vehicle created by California’s Icon company.

Even better, while there’s now an 18-month waiting list for new examples of builder Jonathan Ward’s exclusive creations, an absolutely mint example of the FJ44 build is available from one of my automotive friends in Denver. Provided you also have $250,000 to be in league with other Icon owners such as Tom Hanks, that is.

The FJ44 is indeed a peculiar and wonderful, three-row, six-passenger vehicle, with enough parts of an authentic 1967 Land Cruiser still included in the build for it to be registered as a 54-year-old vehicle. The hood, for instance.

Ward has, however, modified nearly everything else, lifting and stretching the FJ to give it proportions that make it quite unlike any other off-roader. The hand-finished aluminum cab is entirely powder coated, giving it a subtle look that adds to its striking quality. And as you may know, original FJ40s were two-door-only vehicles, so that’s just part of the strange magic happening here.

The FJ44 Icon’s design is both a tribute to the original vehicle and a total reimagining of what the Land Cruiser could be, with hundreds and hundreds of hours of custom work spent in its build. If you’re looking for a hot-rod quality machine that could also survive the apocalypse, the FJ44 Icon might be it.

The noisiest change is the addition of a 430-horsepower 6.2-liter General Motors Vortec V-8 engine, with almost chopper-styled straight pipes to let the neighbors know you’ve arrived.

There’s so much torque that a four-speed automatic transmission is adequate — you get a steering wheel from an industrial earth mover, and metal-hewn buttons to control the three-way locking differentials.

It’s all as legit as possible under the hand-finished aluminum frame, with an Atlas II transfer case, Dana axles and a unique coil-over suspension with Fox Racing dampers to assure both gigantic wheel travel and a surprisingly solid on-road ride. It’s finished off with Brembo brakes and brake rotors the size of manholes.

Everything else is custom, waterproof and unlike anything you’ve seen, including a specially-made cloth top using triple-layer Mercedes roof fabric and marine-grade plastic side windows. There are power-folding steps to help get you in and out of the giant beast, and the cabin includes details such as sun visors from a Lear jet and a vintage-styled grippy bedliner finish throughout the cabin. There’s also a full roll cage, and front window latches literally sourced from a Sub Zero industrial fridge. 

Ward also concentrated on including lots of interesting touches, such as two-sided, locking fold-away spare tire and gas-can holders on the bumper, a customized console box holding modern multimedia equipment, a custom fire extinguisher and of course a Warn winch up front. Even the LED headlamps are customized, with industrial-strength, rust-free hardware throughout. If this is the car you’ve got to have right now, contact my friend Isaac Bouchard at or … get yourself on that Icon waiting list.  

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