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I spend a lot of my time looking at amazing cars. And if you go through our archives, you’ll find a whole host of interesting and unique cars but I don’t feel there is enough credit given to those that create these wonders and so today I’m going to share with you a video from Car and Driver Magazine that pays homage to one of the greatest custom car builders of today.
So what is ICON all about?
It’s kind of a unique approach to custom car building really, Ward looks to try and find cars that exude character, history and story, and then, rather than do them up, he leave that as-found vibe and instead endeavors to hide as much modern mechanical goodness as he can.
Ward made a name for himself building and restoring museum-worthy off-roaders. But then he turned his attention to the most unlikely of automotive outcasts and mashed up his love of abandoned rust buckets with his fondness for sophisticated mechanicals, thus creating ratrods with totally modern underpinnings.
These are the ultimate paradox cars
Most of the builds are vintage one-offs – called derelicts – and the whole idea was to liberate the buyer. They can use these cars, even have fun with them.
The aim of these cars is to create a vintage aesthetic with modern mechanics.
Ward talks about the two types of car enthusiasts – there are those who want the latest and those who love the classics. Focusing on the slippery ground in between, Ward creates an amalgamation that appeals to both types of car lovers.
Such an unusual idea – how did it come about?
10 years ago this wouldn’t have been possible, but low manufacturing costs means that now we’re on a cusp of a whole new geek manufacturing design opportunity.
But what started this all off was Ward’s love of cars. He is essentially a car geek and avoided getting a real job, which meant he turned his passion into a business.
The idea was brewing for a number of years whilst Ward embarked on a different journey which became TLC. When it came to creating ICON, he wanted to find character cars that weren’t complete rust buckets and then hide as much mechanical goodness as he could.
And now he completely reimagines cars for a second lease of life.
The difficulties with these kind of projects
It’s really tempting to have parts sent away to be redone and to make them look new but it’s nice to have the mystery, the cracks and stretch marks that tell character and story of a car.
The greatest challenge is repurposing what’s in the car to be able to hide the technical bits. Ward never wants anything on show but still creates that comfortable and performing drive.
How does he do it?
The aim is to keep it derelict as much as possible.
To begin with, Ward and his team will take the body of the chassis and fix the chassis. They use 3D technology to scan with lasers and then build from there.
All the cars Ward creates straddle the edge between performance and refinement by defining a connection between past and present. There are elements of car history everywhere but when you push the accelerator it’s a foreign, disconnected feeling and very counterintuitive.
What’s so great about these cars?
They’re really fun and make people smile. Although Ward produces old cars, you don’t need to worry about it breaking down or having other issues that the older cars experience.
This makes it usable but precious and the great thing about the usability is that you can see yourself commuting and doing day to day things in it.
How do people react to them?
The response can go one of two ways. Some people look at you like you’re crusty, with an expression that says ‘how dare you drive around in that’. Those kind of people will give you a wide birth because they’re not sure you can stop in time, or on the other hand, their face lights up because you’re reminding them of their life.