The Icon FJ45 is a pickup truck. But it is not one of those rolled off an assembly with thousands just like it. With a starting price of $120,000, the FJ45 reigns supreme as the most expensive pickup truck in America. And it takes the title by a long shot. Second-placed Cadillac Escalade EXT Premium Collection costs just a measly $69,000.
The Icon FJ45 is a military-style long-bed truck hand built by Jonathan Ward. Ward, a former Land Cruiser restorer and special-projects consultant for, left to start his own company after Toyota produced the FJ Cruiser–a vehicle he felt wasn’t true to the model. Now Ward focuses on building trucks with “classic styling, modern performance and timeless utility.
You’re most likely wondering how an FJ45, which was sold in the U.S. from 1963-67 as Toyota’s answer to Jeep, could cost so much. The Icon FJ45 is and isn’t that truck, and here’s why.
The original Toyota FJ45 had a timeless utilitarian design that prioritized functionality and off-road performance over fancy looks and creature comforts. It was available as either a short- or long-bed pickup with either a fixed or removable top and doors.
The Icon FJ45 is virtually a brand-new vehicle. Ward starts with an original Toyota FJ45 truck or chassis and by the time he’s finished, he has delivered a new truck that looks vintage, but almost every component, from the wheels to the roof, is brand new and thoroughly modern. In fact, all that’s carried over are a few inches of the donor truck’s frame and the vehicle identification number plate so the truck doesn’t have to be smogged.
The FJ45 has a V8 engine that gets up to 450 horsepower, an optional biodiesel-compatible turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine and sport suspension package that comes with nitrogen-charged remote canister shocks, limiter straps and hydraulic bump stops.
The Icon FJ45 rides on a custom chassis designed by Ward with help from well-known frame builder Art Morrison, who specializes in replacing the chassis of classic cars with modern computer-designed frames.The vehicles may look old on the outside, but they’re cutting edge underneath.
While the body looks classic, the completely new sheet metal is powder coated instead of painted. The Teflon-polymer-based skin is made for architectural use — it’s used to reduce reflectivity on the outside of the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The finish never needs to be waxed, and it’s applied in an environmentally friendly way, without ozone-chewing CFCs or volatile organic compounds. You won’t find a single plastic part on the exterior that will fade or crack.
“There is not a single piece of plastic on that truck,” says Mike Levine, editor of Pickuptrucks.com. “Everything is metal, and it’s coated in Defense Department-quality materials. It is an indestructible truck if there ever was one.”
The original Toyota FJ45 came with a 3.9-liter inline six-cylinder carbureted engine rated at only 125 horsepower with a three-speed manual gearbox. Icon’s standard gasser is a General Motors all-aluminum 350-hp, 5.3-liter fuel-injected V-8 crate motor supplied by Turn Key and paired with a five-speed Aisin handshaker. Buyers can choose gasoline or diesel powerplants for the FJ45.
Why use GM motors in a reborn Toyota truck? “We stuck with GM engines because they’re everywhere in the world, and they work great,” Ward said.
Ward doesn’t manufacture FJ45s by model year. They roll off the line after each individual order is placed — about 20 each year. When Ward feels it’s time for a change, the change is made on the fly.
Topping off this marvelous and unique pickup is the Icon mascot on the grille. It’s a California blue belly gecko that Ward says is the last animal you’ll see when you’re in the wild where stock stuff can’t make it.
The Icon FJ45 costs a bomb, but it’s also a hell of a lot of truck. It is the the Rolls-Royce of trucks!