The Icon FJ43 Land Cruiser Started a New Genre of Restomodding

Made from Brazilian-market-only, long-wheelbase, two-door bodies, this truck is one of the first from the mind of Icon’s Jonathan Ward.

byChris Rosales| PUBLISHED Jan 12, 2023 2:29 PM
The Icon FJ43 Land Cruiser Started a New Genre of Restomodding
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Old Toyota Land Cruisers never stopped being cool. For two decades, Icon’s Jonathan Ward has championed the best of the old-school FJ40, wrought from metal and exquisitely crafted. One of his first creations, this Icon FJ43 Bandeirante, is a supreme example of what makes his trucks some of the best in the Land Cruiser aftermarket.

Starting with a Brazilian-market Toyota FJ Bandeirante body, Icon set about making a unique variant of the Land Cruiser. Not sold anywhere but Brazil from 1968 to 2001, the Bandeirante is the Brazilian name for the Land Cruiser and has the distinction of being a completely Brazilian product. Toyota of Brazil built them using Mercedes-Benz engines until 1994, and they are much rarer than normal Toyota FJs. Land Cruiser enthusiasts call them Bandy or Bandies.

Icon’s Bandy took major effort to build. Ward’s deep connections with Toyota got him “exclusive access” to import genuine parts and Bandeirante bodies from the factory in Brazil, to which he then gave the Icon treatment. Ward doesn’t say when the truck was built, but he says it “represents a very unique moment in time… Icon and TLC were only able to acquire a few before they were discontinued, and this is the only one I built in this fashion.” 

With this truck, Ward says the ethos of Icon was born. It goes beyond restoration and deep into the realm of completely rethinking the Land Cruiser—this one, like Ward's other builds, is powered by a 5.7-liter Chevy small block—and his journey with Toyota is fascinating. In the video he released about the truck, he describes working with the automaker on a deep level, visiting the factory in Brazil, and becoming a trade member with Toyota corporate. With that membership, he could buy any part from any Toyota factory. So he stockpiled rare, discontinued Land Cruiser parts that were only being made in Brazil. Then Toyota demolished the factory in Brazil before Ward could get started.

That saga is what led to this truck being built and eventually the entire business of Icon. With rare parts gone and never coming back, Ward developed TLC to restore classic Land Cruisers and Icon to reimagine them. You could argue that Ward created the segment.

So, this truck is more than just a neat build. It’s one of the earliest versions of an idea that became some of the coolest re-engineered classic trucks out there.

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