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1964 ICON New School Edition FJ44

1964 ICON New School Edition FJ44

1964 ICON New School Edition FJ44 – After more than 30 years restoring vintage Land Cruisers between the founding of two companies in the TLC 4×4 and ICON brands, Jonathan Ward is celebrating his landmark 500th project. The brand new 1964 ICON New School Edition FJ44 comes off the line as Ward marks an incredible history of working to restore and reimagine one of the world’s most legendary vehicles ever made in the Land Cruiser, all while simultaneously inventing the concept of the modern restomod in 2007 with the creation of ICON.

To honor the company’s 500th Land Cruiser, ICON is taking a retrospective look back at some of the company’s most important builds that paved the way for Ward to become the father and originator of the restomod design concept that introduced modern performance into reimagined classics. The beginning of Ward’s career in Land Cruiser restoration started in Africa while on safari in the nineties with his wife, TLC 4×4 and ICON co-founder Jamie Ward.

“I came back from safari in Africa with my eyes completely opened to the incredible capabilities of these old, vintage Land Cruisers after seeing what they could do in the wild in harsh terrain,” comments ICON Founder Jonathan Ward. “Of course, everyone has an opinion, but the camps with the Defenders and Series trucks seemed to be breaking down more often by comparison to these diehard Land Cruisers. Experiencing firsthand what a Land Cruiser could do out there in that very serious, highly varied environment made a huge impression and encouraged me to start TLC 4×4, the restoration business that predated ICON.”


With 500 FJ projects under his belt, Ward originally got his start focusing on pure restorations through his founding of TLC 4×4, ramping up to full ground-up restomods after building a reputation for turning out high-quality work while tinkering, repairing, and servicing hundreds of trucks. The frequency of maintenance work challenged Ward to intimately learn every variant, part, and year of vintage Land Cruisers. Ward’s encyclopedic knowledge of Land Cruisers would eventually lead to ICON, but not before restoring some of the world’s rarest Toyota trucks.

The first restoration to truly challenge Ward was a rare original Land Cruiser pickup truck built from 1967 FJ45 found idle in a Mojave Desert trailer park for three decades. The 1967 FJ45 Land Cruiser pickup came in three body styles, a long bed, a short bed, and a fixed top short bed. TLC 4×4’s restoration of the long bed, removable top Land Cruiser pickup stretched Ward to the absolute limit, manifesting the most detailed restoration in his career to date. Delving deep into TLC’s extensive vintage parts inventory, the build became a high watermark example of what was possible in the truck restoration category. With many parts simply no longer available, the detailed TLC 4×4 restoration remains a high point of Ward’s career as it is a truck virtually impossible to restore at that superior level today.


Another incredibly rare, highly sought after unicorn of a Land Cruiser in the United States is the 1977 FJ40. A small number of only 250 total FJ40s were allocated to the U.S. market and of those, a scant 50 were equipped with the more desirable options such as power steering and air conditioning. These prized, highly sought after models are regarded as the most valued by collectors and enthusiasts. Ward has restored 20 of these elusive Land Cruiser models, bought and sold 32, a feat that awards him great pride as he’s restored more 1977 FJ40s than anyone on the planet.

With an exceptional and intimate understanding of Land Cruiser restoration at the time, cultivated through TLC 4×4’s growing business, Ward skillfully forged the creative nexus that seamlessly transitioned the restoration business into what would soon evolve into ICON. The build that originated the company down that road of innovation was a 1965 FJ43. Instead of opting for a perfect period-correct restoration, Ward worked with the client to create something completely original and decidedly premium in comparison to the safari and desert overlanding trucks previous clients commissioned.

“It sounds rather simplistic now, but at the time, I can assure you it was pretty radical as a concept,” reminisces Ward. “This restored FJ43 showcased the nascent stages of ICON with this super premium charcoal gray metallic exterior colorway from Audi and these high-end German leather seats integrated into the build. Now, today’s enthusiasts will think no big deal, but absolutely no one at the time in 2002 was integrating German luxury into a Land Cruiser. It just wasn’t being done yet and it started us down this very cool pathway of reimagining these beloved, but at this point, purely utilitarian Land Cruisers.”

As word spread of the high-quality and pioneering approach in Land Cruiser design, Ward received word that Mr. Toyoda himself wanted to see what he could do. Ahead of the upcoming FJ Cruiser launch, Toyota hired Ward to create an early prototype, pre-production vintage concept to inspire and inform their production.

“Our original shop in Van Nuys was this tiny ode to all things Land Cruiser. Filled with love and passion, but we could barely accommodate Mr. Toyoda and all the executives that came to see this American company that takes old Land Cruisers apart and makes them brand new,” recalls Ward. “At first, I think they thought that we were out of our minds, but they left inspired. Mr. Toyoda commissioned two more builds from us. ICON was born out of that experience.”


In 2003, Ward co-founded ICON with wife Jamie and started moving past design and aesthetic modifications into engineering with a specific focus on high performance, introducing modern engines, chassis and suspension alongside braking and other important features that removed the martyrdom often demanded when driving a vintage car. The results were the very first restomods to hit the marketplace, providing all of the vintage style with the carefree convenience of a modern car. It proved a revolutionary concept with Ward’s techniques being applied to other fledgling brands like Singer Vehicle Design and others across all manners of vintage cars and trucks.

The 500th Land Cruiser from ICON is a New School Edition 1964 FJ44. Outfitted with a high performance 6.2L V8 engine with a 5-speed manual with special sport braking and suspension. Always a focal point, the ICON FJ44 New School Edition features a crisp, sophisticated custom interior with heated seats, a pair of rear jump seats with easy access through the truck’s bi-fold rear tailgate to accommodate more passengers, and a roof rack and ladder. A pair of Powered Steps alongside each side of the truck for easy entry step in and out were also included. ICON integrated an upgraded hi-fidelity audio entertainment system and other modern touches such as a rear reverse camera, MIL LED headlights, locking differentials, a ceramic coated exhaust, and exclusively designed ICON New School wheels.

As with all ICON Land Cruiser FJ builds, Ward’s focus is on incredible quality, handmade design and utilizing proven, tested engineering to make the perfect vintage inspired truck.

“Since 2007, ICON has been creating the very best vintage Land Cruisers in the world. No company has more experience with these trucks or is making them at this high level of quality,” comments Ward. “Our commitment to clients is to provide them with a special modernized, one-of-a-kind truck that lasts and can be enjoyed on and off the road for a lifetime.”

1964 ICON New School Edition FJ44

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Written By

An Infrastructure/Information Technology Manager by day, an automotive enthusiast the rest of my spare time. Most importantly a father, Husband and a U.S. Navy Veteran! Combining my experiences and skills and came up with the ultimate creation of & Armed with a camera who knows where this journey will take me but stay tuned, it's going to be an exciting ride!

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