Jonathan Ward's 1950 Chevrolet Thriftmaster by ICON | 2013 OUSCI Preview

Ultimate Streetcar
OPTIMA Batteries
Pahrump, NV

The quality of the vehicles built by Jonathan Ward and the crew at ICON has to be seen to be believed. The creations are truly amazing and that is one of the reasons we've featured three of his vehicles in the OPTIMA booth at SEMA in the past two years. This truck, a 1950 Chevy Thriftmaster pickup is yet another example of the incredible work his shop puts out. The fact that these vehicles are not only among the best on display at the SEMA Show, but can be driven off the show floor and onto the track at Spring Mountain Motor Sports Ranch the next day also speaks to the comprehensive and complete nature of Ward's builds.

Ward believes when modern day automotive technology is seamlessly integrated into timeless automobiles, a classic becomes an ICON and he has certainly achieved that with this truck. Ward's concept was born in response to the direction he had seen the collector market heading, as demands and expectations on classic cars grew to expect modern performance married to classic styling. His wife, Jamie started TLC with him and became known as one of the nation's leading Land Cruiser Service centers in 1996, to provide sales, service, parts and restoration services to the Land Cruiser community.

As their global reputation grew, they began to work as a consultant for Toyota, and TLC began to handle special projects for Toyota ranging from outfitting vehicles for special events to eventually being asked by Mr. Toyoda to build three running and driving prototypes of what became the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Their original prototypes paid more direct homage to the Land Cruiser tradition than the exciting new FJ Cruiser. This design departure from their prototypes is what eventually made them ask if they were to revisit the FJ40 their way, how would they do it?

The results are what we know today as the ICON, a vehicle without peers for a journey without boundaries. Classic styling, modern performance, and timeless utility. Without the support of enthusiasts and patrons, such an extreme expression of design and utility would never have been possible.

The Thriftmaster pickup is part of American history with its timeless and distinct appeal and is outfitted with a fuel-injected V8 rated at 315 horsepower and 335 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a Tremec TKO six-speed manual transmission. The classic body is attached to a state-of-the-art (no pun intended) Art Morrison chassis and is also equipped with ABS disc brakes, and independent front suspension and a four-link solid rear axle.

Unlike Ward's Derelict series, the vintage body has been fully-restored and customers can have their truck painted in almost any color imaginable. The underbody and floor surfaces in the cabin are polyurea-coated and stainless steel body hardware, brushed, nickel-plated trim with a matte ceramic clear coat can be found throughout. The custom exhaust is mandrel-bent and aluminized.

Optional equipment on these trucks includes an automatic transmission with overdrive, an intercooled supercharger and amber LED vintage-styled fog lights. While we mentioned horsepower numbers, we didn't mention the weight of the truck. As one can tell from this description, the Thriftmaster isn't going to set the Pro-Touring world ablaze with it's performance on the track. However, if it performs as it's Derelict business coupe cousin did last year, we fully-expect it to hold it's own throughout the day on the track and still be running when the dust settles. It has already outlasted several OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational (OUSCI) competitors in the Detroit Speed Road Rally.

It may not contend for the overall title, but expect it to be a top challenger in the Lingenfelter Performance Design Challenge. If you've never seen one of Ward's creations up close, the OUSCI is the perfect opportunity. If you missed it when it was there, you can always go back and watch past OUSCI TV coverage for free on the OPTIMA Network on Roku.