For those of us with more than just a passing interest in this crazy hobby called cars, every once in awhile a vehicle belts you alongside your head. It keeps tapping on your shoulder, telling you about how awesome it is, how it’s more than just a mode of transportation, how you should go to the bank right now and figure out a way to put it in your garage. We’ve all been there at least once, right?
Nearly a year ago when we began talks with Jonathan Ward, the owner of ICON, he mentioned they were going to produce a production model classic Ford Bronco; it sounded like a pretty cool project, but we had absolutely no idea. If you’re not familiar with ICON 4x4, you probably should be. They build classic Jeep CJ and Toyota FJ Trucks, but not ordinary trucks in any way. ICON has a unique style; products are designed and not just bolted on. Everything is there for a reason. There is no automotive jewelry in their creations, it’s about function, but with a keen sense of classic style. From bumper to bumper, the theme is the same; everything is considered.
Jonathan first noticed the VHX lineup at the 2010 SEMA Show, thinking this might be a good fit for the project, we thought so too. We could not be more humbled and excited to be a part of this project. The Bronco was debuted in the Ford booth at the 2011 SEMA Show.
Jonathan posted a bunch of pictures and details about the project here:
If you want to see more about what ICON does, you really need to spend a few moments checking out their site:
Finally, here is a link to the VHX Instrument system to fit YOUR early Bronco:
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The following is an excerpt from our recent story in The Motor Market Magazine:
“You can only understand perfection if you attempt it.” Take a minute to let that permeate your brain cells; apply it to things other than custom vehicles. I can hear the synapses popping right now. And we’re back. It’s true, isn’t it? This classy, grown-up take on the adage “…walk a mile in their shoes...” is more or less the mission statement of Jonathan Ward’s shop, ICON. Recognizing that more and more people want classic wrappers surrounding modern functionality, Jonathan, wife Jamie, and a world-class team have created the most talked about early Bronco we’ve laid eyes on.
The boxy Bronco before you has an impressive, yet unexpected pedigree; 10 engineers, mathematicians, fabricators and designers from Nike (yes, that Nike) contributed design and engineering ideas. If that wasn’t remarkable enough, the ICON team was also joined by Camilo Pardo. If Camilo isn’t a household name for you, perhaps you’ve seen his work – the modern Ford GT40 supercar.
Taking the nicest ’68 Bronco they could find, ICON set about setting the 4x4 world on its ear. Another tagline from the ICON website is “the most advanced form of simple.” While this sounds a bit oxymoronic, it’s really the best way to sum up the ICON Bronco. The design is painfully simple, all the small details are just that, but they add up to an exquisite piece; something for the rest of us to strive toward. Nearly everything you see on the vehicle has been custom-made with an eye to the original design, but with a healthy dose of refinement and style; everything belongs, and makes you wonder just what they did. A short list of ICON-designed goodies that may go unnoticed: door handles, side markers, grille, mirrors, gas cap, fog lights, taillight bezels, headlights, door lock pulls, dash knobs, the dash itself, badges, get the idea? ICON leaves no detail undetailed.
Classic 4x4 stance is afforded by a purpose-built chassis from Art Morrison Engineering. To get the new skeleton within spec, the original 1968 body and chassis were scanned into digital form, allowing the crew to precisely locate mounting points. The end result is a chassis that fits like a glove and allows full suspension articulation (even with the uncut ‘swept’ rear wheel openings). Motivation for this gem comes from a 2011 Ford Coyote 5.0L V8, the very same one found in the new Mustang GT as well as last month’s feature, Pegasus.
Starting with a clean sheet for the dash, ICON went to work making a more user-friendly and eye-appealing panel. Keeping the stock gauge location and aura, ICON jumped at the brand new VHX-66F-BRO analog instrument system. The high-tech movements and features coupled with the classic layout and sweeping-needles fit into the plan perfectly. Not able to leave well enough alone, Jonathan and Camilo designed their own custom overlay (face) for the gauge; the guts are off-the-shelf Dakota Digital, while the look is pure ICON.
During the build process, we got small hints and sneak peeks from ICON, and we were just thrilled about the progress. Our excitement finally crested at the 2011 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where got to feast our greedy eyes upon unit number .0001; the Bronco on this very page. We were awestruck at the fit, finish and style of the vehicle. Never before had we seen such restraint exercised during a total redesign; so much anti-bling in an over-the-top world. The ICON Bronco stands out from the crowd, not by shouting over the noise, but instead quietly sucking the air from the room, leaving everyone breathless.