The Round Six Podcast

The Round Six Podcast

Where a Derelict Becomes an ICON

June 28, 2019


Here on episode sixty-five, we sit down with ICON 4x4 and TLC founder and CEO Jonathan Ward. It's a laid back, candid look at building cool vehicles in a very technology-driven world. A self-starter in definition as well as practice, Jon's childhood acting days (from a chance shot in Peter Pan to Charles in Charge to a stalker incident) and an interest in restoring old tech and cars lead to starting a business. We explore the passion that drives ICON, the idea behind the brand, and the marketing approach.


  • Industrial design meets entrepreneurship

  • Raymond Leowy

  • Avoiding the "theme" build while staying true to the vehicle's character

  • Steering clear of bad design directions

  • Crafting a unique aesthetic

  • Creating  brand identity

  • Working to make a unique statement without turning down the bread and butter work

  • The balance of loving what you do and loving the customer
    – When to fire a client

  • Steering the client via renderings

  • Nostalgia as a motivator in building a project

  • The gender difference in styles/needs/wants
    – Women VS men with regard to needs and wants in a vehicle

  • "Corrupted by the perversions of modernity"
    – A discussion on tech and obsolescence

  • Being an "old school martyr"
    – Brian proposes the "Tune-ruining choke knob" feature

  • Changing the mood and personality of a vehicle just through exhaust note

  • A "rockabilly" bar cruiser Hudson Hornet

  • "Build it like you'd keep it"

  • The challenges of working with obscure vehicles
    – "It's like the dot-com era for hot rodders"

  • Working with technology like 3D printing and composites
    – The "pucker moment" when you need an impossible-to-find part

  • Watching tech and changing attitudes toward old-school craftsmanship

  • Research and design on the fly

  • Getting stuck in a rut in your craft and not seeing the advantage of pushing forward
    – Looking forward at nanotech, hydrophobics and more

  • Drawing inspiration from a wide variety of sources

  • Passion builds versus assembly line product

  • Early days of tech scrounging

  • The first resto project: a '55 Ford

  • Meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov
    – Hitching a ride to a cattle call and landing a role in Peter Pan on Broadway

  • The advantages of not having a board to answer to when working to preserve the passion and DNA of a brand

  • Purity of execution working through a series of compromises

  • Going international with SEMA Australia

  • A discussion on the appreciation of vintage Americana