Bronco or brand, it's the details that win

Every nuance.
Every intention.
Every interaction.
Every form.
Every button.
Every detail.


In designing an experience, the details matter.

I believe that is…

An ideal worth pursuing

I’m not alone.

During my break last week, I visited the showroom of ICON in Los Angeles (ICON is a boutique manufacturer of industrial grade SUVs). Gawking over each of the restored vehicles, the people at ICON floored me with their exegesis of the restoration disciplines applied to the cars they recycle and reproduce.

“We’re very careful to avoid the ‘pimp-my-ride’ superfluous content often seen in high-profile car restoration shops. ICON really strives to capture the aesthetic of the vintage car and re-engineer and evolve them into daily drivers that are stupid, strong, simple and last for decades.” 

The results are nothing short of breathtaking.

My personal favorite is the vintage Ford Bronco, the sole reason I drove from Venice Beach where I was staying to their shop in Chatsworth. As a long-time enthusiast of vintage cars (I’ve owned a slew of them), the Bronco is my all-time favorite.

I had to see ICON’s line up close.


Ford approached owner Jonathan Ward about creating a singular ICON Bronco.

For him it was an ideal worth pursuing.

But to take on the task, ICON realized its need to invite other companies and individuals with greater expertise and resources to help them. So Jonathan turned to Nike, which had expressed earlier interest in participating in ICON’s next R&D effort.

The Bronco was it.

Good design

Almost every modern production car company answers to a different set of priorities than ICON. Their use of plastic parts, breakable elements and assembly-line production results in a car with a predestined expiration date.

This reality applies to many products and services, which are often compromised by focus groups and accountants who often kill this and slay that in an effort to achieve mass appeal.

ICON is too small to afford that luxury. And they are proud of it. Every design and engineering directive is driven by one thing only – Jonathan’s passion and vision for the cars he builds.

An ICON Bronco starts with great bones. Each is an original truck he scoured the country to find.

Once in the shop, Jonathan takes an inventory of all parts, determining what’s not suitable and what requires retrofitting or replacement. Then the truck is gutted and the body is liberated from the chassis. What happens next is a transformation that would make any design enthusiast grin from ear to ear.

Ask about any element of an ICON car and Jonathan will offer you a longer-than-you-wanted answer to what it is, how it’s machined, why it’s there, what the surface coating is and more.

Every single thing is considered. Right down to the thread used on the seat material.

The results are matchless.

The $150,000+ price tag seems insignificant.

It’s a damn good thing my wife was there.

Build it and they will come

“The revival of classic industrial design is missing from modern, high-volume transportation,” Jonathan says when speaking about the automobile industry.

That statement can be applied to a lot of things these days.

“There’s this Americana aspect to the Bronco that motivates and excites people. The car is ingrained in our hearts and memories. Its range of appeal is wide. They are approachable and tactile, and that draws many people to them.”

His words resonate with me.

All too often, good design isn’t considered. All too often, good design is compromised by time frames. And penny wise, pound foolish beliefs.

And more often than not, the humility required to seek out and rely on outside help to produce something breathtaking is truant.

The results of these decisions speak for themselves.

Labor of love

I drove 35 miles (2 hours each way due to traffic) to visit their showroom. Customers come from around the globe. The results of ICON’s labor of love.

“We want to build stuff we’re proud of,” Jonathan said.

He certainly has.

We all could benefit from doing the same.