Industry Insider Interview – Jonathan Ward of TLC Icon 4×4

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JPFreek: When do you foresee full production of the CJ3B being available?

TLC: We are a small company but thus far, we have been able to build enough trucks for the people who have wanted them. Our price point for our FJ models is quite high ($100-170,000), mostly due to the serious list of equipment and content, plus untold hundreds of hours to craft each one by hand. With the new CJ, we have designed it to be a simpler build, and to utilize more off-the-shelf products from well-distributed brands, as opposed to the FJ’s which run a lot of private label hand crafted components which in many cases are overkill. So for now, that has realized a very well equipped truck that sells at $79,000. That price point is realized by us crafting the components in small batches of ten. Should the new design be well received by the market, we will continue to drop the price point by as much as we can gain in the volume, and by construction efficiencies gains (i.e. ordering batches of twenty or fifty of the short production runs of the parts needed to be manufactured). My initial target was $55,000, but it always seems that towards the end of a design, when things are starting to add up and up, I wanted to hold the line of quality and not dumb down or use lesser/cheaper parts. At the end of the day, I do this because I love it. If I cannot find a market for my designs and ideas in their (relatively) pure form, I guess I will have to get a real job. That would suck.

JPFreek: Depending on response to the CJ3B, do you have plans to consider expanding the Jeep-based lineup with other models of Jeep vehicles (i.e. CJ7, CJ8 Scrambler, or full-size Jeeps)?

TLC: Count on it! I do not have any plans to evolve to the more contemporary Jeep models though. I am a vintage fan and prefer to be surrounded by steel and nice solid gear than the plastics that abound in the more recent stuff. We are considering a longer wheelbase CJ3B, as well as a CJ3B based pick up truck. A Scrambler would be fun one day too. One of the reasons we designed an entirely new chassis for this project was the anticipated adaptability of it to attach other bodies, such as the MB, CJ2A etc. All that will be in the future.

JPFreek: The animated film “Cars” featured an old Willys vehicle named “Nator” that looks a lot like the new CJ3B. Any chance we’ll see the CJ3B in a future feature film?

TLC: In my opinion, Nator is a great example of the spirit of fun in the CJ design. My kids were quick to note that too. We recently met with the head of a major studio to discuss potential film projects for ICON. We would love the exposure and will participate in the right project, but it is not our focus. For now, an ICON FJ43 can be seen in the coming Wall Street II Oliver Stone film.

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