Off-Road Icon Reinvented – Icon Motors FJ44 November 04, 2013
The Land Cruiser FJ40 is one of the most influential off-road vehicles ever created. The Jeep-like build and unwavering reliability made the FJ40 a dream for off-road enthusiasts around the world. Icon Motors saw this not as a finished product but as a base to start building one of kind off-road machines that can run with the best of them. The Icon Motors FJ44 is a complete reimagining of the classic FJ40 truck. This $140,000 machine is rebuilt from the ground up to make a nearly perfect off-road rig that runs beautifully on and off road. Many off-road trucks today are built with the minimum materials possible, but not the FJ44. With over-the-top attention to detail, materials, and construction, it achieves a real off-road feel that’s in-sync with its capability. For starters, the FJ44 is a 4-door version of the FJ40, also created by Jonathan Ward, the owner of Icon 4x4. If you include the rumble seats in the back this truck can seat 6 in varying degree of comfort. Ward, a long-time Toyota FJ driver, became aware of the limitations and issues the old FJs had and wanted to make a change in them for the better. With a body that has more in common with a pontoon boat that an off-road truck, every inch of the FJ44 is built with off-road performance in mind. The Icon Approach Most companies out there that build custom off-road trucks believe in the “bigger is better” mantra. While this can be true in some situations, Instead of just going over the top in every category, Icon chose to take a wider view and do their upgrades in moderation. The FJ44 has a moderate 12” of ground clearance, but it’s approach and departure angles go to nearly vertical. Icon also took the time to think about long-term ownership of the FJ44, too. The majority of the mechanical workings of the truck have their origins in the defense and military-grade parts environment. Not only does this give unyielding durability, but also allows for a level of reparability that isn’t common with such a custom truck. This means replacement parts are easy to find and install with minimal tools. While these parts don’t match up to the quality of the original ones Icon installed, they’ll get you home in a bind. Everything about the FJ44 is custom. Icon uses a custom tube frame to start with, and on that frame sits an all-aluminum 5/32” thick body. This is much thicker than your common body panel, and being aluminum it’s much lighter than steel, and light is good since the truck weighs in at 4,250 lbs. At 6’6” tall and almost 5 and ½ feet wide, you’d expect the FJ44 to lumber on paved roads, but you’d be wrong. Even with solid axles and its huge size, this truck is tame enough for daily driving, even with kids. Power To Spare The original FJ trucks had a maximum of 135 HP, with an average around 80 HP. The Icon FJ44 features 350-450 HP thanks to the Corvette LS1 V-8 Icon uses. This huge increase in power really brings the FJ44 to life. This, paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, Atlas II part time transfer case with a crawl ratio of 87:1 and DANA 60/44 based axles get this truck over rocks that other trucks it’s size couldn’t dream of getting over. Power is all nice and fine, but you need to stop just as well, too. Icon uses 6-piston, custom billet aluminum calipers and drilled/slotted rotors to make sure the FJ44 will always stop when you need it. The Detail The attention to detail in the FJ44 is where it really shines. Everything down to the air vents is given more attention than most entire trucks receive. The green sunshades come from a Lear jet; the steel grab bars are the same ones you’ll find on a Sub-Zero fridge. Even the gauges get start treatment by being set in a housing developed by watchmaker Bell & Ross. Oh, and those air vents? They’re milled anodized-aluminum, not plastic. The seats in the FJ44, while made from a very utilitarian fabric are both heated and cooled. Air-conditioned and insulated from the engine’s sounds fairly well, the detail of this truck is outstanding. You actually have to look closely to see this detail, however, and that’s honestly how it should be. Everything is built to such an overbuilt-standard that it all just fits in place. Wrap-Up From the stainless steel exhaust to the powder-coated interior pieces, to the heated and cooled seats, the FJ44 is an amalgamation of comfort, off-road, and supercar all wrapped in an aluminum shell. Built with amazing precision, the $140,000 price tag seems worth it to have something that is as close to perfect as an off-road truck can get. IT’s not often that a vehicle this expensive is at home driving on the highway just as well as it is crossing a stream with water coming into the floorboards. All in all, the FJ44 is a wild and unique ride that should be in anyone’s garage that can afford it.