Classic Good Looks Meets Rugged Ingenuity
Jonathan Ward and his team at Toyota Land Cruisers (TLC) have created some of the most memorable Toyota FJ-series vehicles to date. We were so impressed with their TLC Icon vehicle that we put it on the cover of our Feb. '06 issue. All Icons are handbuilt in very low volume in Van Nuys, California, by a small crew of six specialists, one at a time, with handtools. All design work is done with CAD to ensure standardization and to improve efficiency of the operation. The concept behind the Icon vehicle was to create something that would offer the consumer the classic good looks and style of the original FJ40 vehicle with the driving performance of a modern vehicle. With a little bit of research and a whole lot of know-how, they have now added a biodiesel version into the Icon family. As we take a walk through this more-than-impressive vehicle, we can only wonder what TLC will think of next.
TLC began development of the new "Biocon" by researching many engines and manufacturers. Although they have always been big fans of the non-USA Toyota diesel engines, this was not an option due to the fact that service parts are not available in the U.S. After also investigating the more common North America market diesel four-cylinders, they came to the conclusion that they were either too heavy, too tall, too long, or too difficult to adapt to the chassis. Ideally, TLC wanted to use a high-pressure direct-injection motor but discovered that there is not enough technical support in the service sector to ensure that their customers would be able to find support for maintenance. The new electronics-intensive diesel engines require special tools and training barely present at the dealer level, not to mention in the general repair community.
In the end, they chose a proven, simple, and highly reliable engine made by International called the HS 2.8L VNT. Four cylinders, 2.8 liters, high-pressure rotary-injected with Garrett variable turbo and intercooler. This engine features quality Bosch support parts, simple electronics, stellar reliability, and extreme longevity. The fuel system was designed to be directly compatible with biodiesel. Delivering plenty of performance with loads of torque down low where it's needed (276 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm) while averaging 25 to 30 mpg, this is a four-wheeler built with exploration and the environment in mind.
The Icon begins life as an old FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser ('60-'78). The truck is then stripped down to the frame, and the extra parts are recycled back into the Land Cruiser community or are sold as scrap metal. All of the textiles TLC uses are from environmentally conscious suppliers.