The newest vintage isn’t old

Some cars are just too cool to kill off

Some cars are just too cool to kill off.

The Icon, slated for release this May, will look exactly like an original Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser of the 1960s, with one notable difference: it’s brand new.

“Vintage utility vehicles weren’t getting the respect they deserved when it came to restoration,” says Jonathan Ward, who has spent the last decade keeping the Toyota Land Cruiser alive through his Van Nuys restoration company, TLC. “No one was applying true craftsmanship to the blank canvases these cars can truly be.”

Ward opened TLC in 1996 to service, restore and sell Toyota Land Cruisers, but this is its first production year. He’s building 20 vehicles, each made to order.

“We don’t look to the usual car suppliers,” he says. “The body is coated in Teflon-polyester powder coating and we go to the Pacific Design Center for interior fabrics.”

It’s a far cry from what first drew Ward to the Land Cruiser: He was looking for a beater to haul his dog and surfboard. However, it was the dwindling number of cars that prompted Ward to replace restoration with resurrection.

Along the way, he made some improvements. Compared with the original Land Cruisers, Icons feature longer wheelbases, better steering and suspension and more even weight distribution. But from there, Ward makes each Icon to fit its owner.

“They look vintage from the outside, but underneath they’re all state-of-the-art,” says fund manager Michael Brown, who owns three TLC Land Cruisers. “My new Icon will have hybrid electric/biodiesel power.”

Feeling nostalgic? Here’s a look at auto manufacturers who live to turn back time.

TLC Icon

Vintage Speedster

The Car:
TLC Icon
The Car:
Vintage Speedster
The inspiration: Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
What you gain: The chance to fit an engine that runs on biodiesel
What you lose: A Toyota badge
What it costs: Old School package starts at $88,000
The inspiration: Porsche 356 Speedster
What you gain: The chance to look like Paul Newman in his heyday
What you lose: Metal body, Porsche mechanicals (it’s a VW underneath)
What it costs: From $19,000
Where you get it: TLC, Van Nuys
Where you get it: Vintage Speedsters, Hawaiian Gardens

Vintage Spyder

Beacham Jaguar

The Car:
Vintage Spyder
The Car:
Beacham Jaguar
The inspiration: Porsche 550 Spyder
What you gain: Availability (engines are VW, Porsche or Subaru)
What you lose: Metal body, again
What it costs: From $25,000
The inspiration: Jaguar Mk II
What you gain: Modern mechanicals, rust-free body, superb interior
What you lose: Sleep at night. Either thinking about how much it costs or how soon it’ll be in your garage
What it costs: From $134,000 for an Mk II V8
Where you get it: Vintage Spyders, Orange
Where you get it: Beacham Jaguar, New Zealand