5 Keys That Set This ICON TR Pickup Apart From the Rest
The San Fernando Valley town of Chatsworth is a lot of things, but remarkable just isn’t one of them. That is until you spend a day in Chatsworth hanging out at the ICON headquarters, like we did a few weeks ago. We chatted with Jonathan Ward, checked out his spotless shop and drove the ICON TR, their take on the Chevy Thriftmaster from the 1950s. Rough day, huh?
Ward calls the TR “a sportscar masquerading as a pickup,” and for all intents and purposes, it is. But more importantly, it is a truck that’s virtually impossible to replicate at home.
Here are a few secrets that reveal why the ICON TR — and ICON builds in general — are so special:
1. Geeked Out on Design
After talking to Ward for the first hour about everything other than cars — watches, furniture, fabrics, 16th century Italian castles — it was clear that this guy isn’t just your neighborhood grease monkey. This is a man who loves design of all kinds, who has refined his eye by exploring almost everything outside the automotive industry. So when he tells us, “I don’t like matte when it’s just murdered out, it looks cheap to me,” we believe him. This is why the ICON matte isn’t true matte at all, but instead has tiny particles of mica to ensure a low level sheen even without gloss.
2. Attention to Detail
One of the reasons why the ICON builds sometimes look so easy to replicate is because the details are so subtle. Yes, that looks like the original Chevy Thriftmaster dash upon first glance, but then a small lever reveals a gauge cluster hiding beneath, including modern essentials like A/C, USB ports and CarPlay. There are even side-mounted, collapsible cupholders, because ICON’s not expecting you to give up your double caramel latte just because you bought a classic truck.
3. Maker Made
Those pedals are super cool, and so are the aluminum door handles. Where’d he get them? He didn’t. He made them. Ward’s enormous, expanded shop includes CNC machines to ensure the suppliers don’t hold him back. So if he wants something and can’t find it, or can envision it better, he just makes it. Easy as that!
4. Trust Is Power
Ward’s clients come with a wish list, but in the end they trust him to make the car of their dreams. ICON doesn’t skimp when it comes to ensuring that their clients' personalities are reflected in their vehicles. The TR#6 we checked out is being made for a guy in Hawaii, so of course that truck bed is made from locally sourced Koa wood. For his Kentucky client, Ward’s team sourced the same wood that is used for the Louisville slugger. They likely would never have thought to put it on their wish list, and it’s why they trust Jonathan with the details.
5. It Doesn’t Come Cheap
If you’ve ever had a project car, you know one thing for sure: your budget is a joke. There’s the budget you start with, and then, by the time you’re done, the one you’ve finally begged, borrowed and stolen to achieve. You can bet that second and final number is at least double the first. For Ward and his team, this attention to detail, perfection and obsession doesn’t come cheap. The TRs start at $230,000 and go up from there.
Although these are just a few of the things that make ICON, well... ICON, Jonathan Ward confesses, “I’m not that smart, so everything I build is, at its root, really for me.”
Still want to try your own Thriftmaster build?
Jonathan Ward offers this key piece of advice:
“Make the biggest gas tank you can. First, get it out of the cab. Nobody wants that thing sloshing behind them, so move it aft as far back as you can. Then build it out of a thicker gauge of stainless than you need so it’s heavier, and there you go!”
This, Ward assures, will help reconcile the truck’s weight displacement and ensure a more comfortable ride.
What’s it like to drive the ICON TR?
Testing it out with Driving Line’s Managing Editor, Kristin Cline, she had this to say:
“Being a classic car driver, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love or hate ICON's Thriftmaster. It looked beautiful, and I knew it would drive tremendously — but would it retain enough of an old pickup's personality or feel too polished? By the time I took the first turn out of the driveway, I knew the ICON TR was still vintage pickup enough for me. When I broke the 555s loose with a snap of the throttle, sending Motorhead Mama and I into a fit of giggles, I was in love. This truck would be my daily driver in a hot second... if only I could afford it!”
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