Icon, infamous for its FJ and CJ 4x4 reinterpretations, did not know what to do with the 1952 Chrysler Town & Country wagon it found in someone’s back yard in southern California in 2000. It was rusty, but it loved the interior design and the lines of the body. It dripped history with great vintage lube stickers in the door jamb and drive-in receipts under the old mats. The design of the hood and front fenders, however, was less appreciated. And so it sat.
In 2006, while picking up a vehicle for a client’s project at a shop in Glendale, Owner Jonathan Ward noticed a rotting 1952 DeSoto sedan. Viewed as one of the coolest front clip designs of the 1950s, it just so happened that it was almost the same color and patina as the wagon Icon had acquired six years earlier. Knowing that De Soto and Chrysler had the same parent companies and shared platforms, Icon immediately envisioned the front fender and hood from the De Soto being adjoined to the body of the Chrysler Town & Country wagon.
Icon normally works on five “one-off” projects each year. Projects range wildly, yet always focus on melding modern with vintage. It took two years to complete the DeSoto / Town and Country combination. It became known as the Derelict.
Although the body is old, the mechanicals are nothing but top-notch new bits. The engine is a 6.1-liter SRT8 Hemi V-8 producing 500 hp and connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. The suspension, brakes, wheels, and some interior bits were all switched out with new modern units but purposely given a vintage look. Even the DeSoto figure on the hood was milled out to accept light diodes, so it can glow ominously at night.
The result is respectful of the original design values but provides modern performance and utility. Icon does not consider it a “rat rod” or a street rod. More of a wabi-sabi style, a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. It is better described as beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."
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