ICON 4×4 is a well-known name in the automotive world, with the Los Angeles shop objectively standing as one of the most renowned classic truck restomod builders currently in operation. Fewer, however, are familiar with how Jonathan Ward started the company — an endeavor that can ultimately be traced back to a single phone call from Toyota President (and master driver) Akio Toyoda. After hearing about Ward’s meticulous restorations of vintage FJ models, he gave Ward access to a slew of rare and original FJ parts and bodies and tasked him with building three different examples. In addition to being used to help design the new FJ Cruiser in 2007, these preproduction concept vehicles would lay the foundation for what would become ICON’s signature builds.
One of these three projects was based on Toyota’s Brazil market-only FJ43 Bandeirante — a more rugged and off-road-focused version of the FJ. “You know how the turtle in the Galapagos evolved over time and was its own unique thing because it was so isolated? Well, that’s what happened to the Bandeirante over the years,” Ward explains. Built atop a stretch 1965 FJ40 chassis, this modern interpretation of the classic truck is powered by a General Motors Ram Jet fuel-injected 5.7-liter V8 with K&N filtration and an integrated Toyota H-55 five-speed transmission and a split-case 19 spline transfer case.
Riding on ICON’s own forged aluminum volcanic-finished wheels, this early build has also been bestowed with numerous performance upgrades in the form of overhauled axles fore and aft, an upgraded front sway bar, stainless steel brakes, and a restrained exhaust. The Toyota’s custom interior features a modified dash off of an ’83 FJ40, complete a bespoke sheet metal component, one-off gauges, a custom clock. The cabin has also been treated to a vintage climate control system and front and rear seats that are upholstered with carbon fiber sheet heat laminated to top grain leather. Other additions include a cable-actuated parking brake, taller 373 gears, period-correct badging, and self-adjusting rear wheel cylinders. The project’s finishing touch came in the form of a grayish-blue paint job that, while simple, looks stunning.
While this special early Bandeirante proto-project isn’t for sale, ICON 4×4 is currently accepting commissions for similar vintage FJ builds, with prices starting at $180,000.