Back to the Future: Classic Cars Go High Tech
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Back to the Future: Classic Cars Go High Tech


(upbeat music)
(tires screeching) – Industrialization, standardization of automotive manufacturing
was a game-changer, right? But to me, the most
interesting products coming out are these clever mash-ups of traditional craftsmanship
and modern solutions. It’s the mash-up of new
and old that speaks to me. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] Jonathan
Ward is the owner of Icon, an automotive shop that takes classic cars and infuses them with the
best of modern technology. – They’re taking a 40-year old car and essentially preparing
it for it’s next 40 years. (engine revving) – [Narrator] In a world filled
with disposable products, Jonathan is asking,
“How can we get the most out of what we already have?” (power tools whirring) – The name Icon was my wife’s idea. To me, it really represented
that we’re trying to reference iconic designs
and principles even. With the rapid growth
of industrial process and automation and the
industrial revolution, I personally feel quantity
overpowered quality in many cases. So, to me, that’s a part of
our responsibility with Icon. To celebrate these vintage design icons but evolve it into the future. The ultimate led sled would be, by most people’s judgment,
a ’49 to ’51 Mercury coupe. At a rapid glance, you see
it on the side of the road, you may wonder if it even runs. But then there are like layers of onions. You start peeling the layers back. Like if you peak underneath it, you’ll see what Adrian
here is still toiling away and the rest of my team have done. So there are thousands
and thousands of hours to reimagining this classic ’cause of the pioneering
EV system that’s in it. So 200 mile range, 475
foot pounds of torque, dual electric motors. For the EV charge ports,
we do stuff like this, where we’ll hide it
behind the license plate. The power windows are controlled by what looks like the original analog crank, and you just nudge up for
up and down from down. Obviously we’re running a
digital touchscreen display because we had to monitor
so many of the new electric vehicle circuits. But again, keeping the continuity because I think that’s
when we jump the shark. When we do anything that
impacts the whole vibe and romance of the vintage aesthetic, we have failed. – [Narrator] This is Michael DiTullo, he’s an automotive expert and designer who has reimagined several
classic cars with Jonathan. – There’s a lot of places
you can go to get a refurbished vintage car. That’s not really the
business that Icon is in. I think it’s really the
only place you’re gonna go to get this thing that is redesigned and reimagined for the next generation. (engine roaring) – [Michael] Our collaborations
usually start with Jonathan doing like a tear-down of the vehicle. So we’ll have a sense of,
“Okay, we want to upgrade the mirrors, we want to
take look at the badging, or the door handles.” These are all the little
parts of the vehicle that should be better. – All our plumbing is actually done by an aerospace supplier so
it’s mandrel bent stainless. Clamps and fixtures, I’m
generally gonna go to railcar marine or aerospace, because they’re still making
it the best it can be made. – The glass is like architectural glass, it’s not automotive glass. The sun visors are the
same material that they use in jets and like learjets. Dark-tinted green that you can actually still see-through when you put it down and you’re like, “That
just totally makes sense.” That’s not an automotive person, that is a craftsman and a
designer’s approach, right? I have friends who are in
the automotive industry and they’re like, “Yup, just
went to another presentation from a creative director,
and another bunch of slides on Icon.” So you have this small
group of dedicated people building cars influencing,
not only automotive production but product design in general. I think we need to, maybe as a culture, redefine materialism. Maybe we’re not materialistic enough. What are the materials going
into the thing I’m buying and will it last me? – So this one is super cool. This is a 1949 Hudson Super Six. One of my geek-out side hobbies is traditional leather craft. So this is wild cog alligator that starts in crust form, meaning been through tanning
but no oiling, no pigments. So then I come through
and I hand-paint this with a series of five different pigments and seven different suspensions to get this just kind of
aged funky patina effect. It was so much fun. The dash still is in theme with the original design aesthetic but now it supports in-dash
AC with adjustable vents. Audio system, you push
any of the memory buttons. Considerations for details like that is sadly forgotten. – A lot of times if you over-index on a higher quality good
that cost more upfront, you might be spending a fraction as what you’d spend by buying the same object over and over again. You’ll save time, you’ll save money, you’ll enjoy yourself more. And you’ll have a product
that you enjoy using versus something you somewhat loathe but does the job. – I’m seeing a movement of other makers and consumers that are
starting to poke through the veneer of buying the
cheapest possible thing that they need. So I’d like to think that
reviving classic industrial arts will be an important
part of the success of the American culture. Makes me hope we’re on the right path. (engines roaring) – [Narrator] Icon is a boutique shop in just one industry. But what if every product was made with this love and care? Would you ever even think
of throwing anything away? (engine revving) (upbeat music) Thanks for watching, if
you liked this video, please give us a like and
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people changing the world.

About Roger Trantham

Read All Posts By Roger Trantham

19 thoughts on “Back to the Future: Classic Cars Go High Tech

  1. I’ve thought of something like this but I believed it couldn’t be done. But goddamn this proves me wrong in a way I’m happy with. And I feel like I just saw a few new dream cars for me.

  2. I'd like to reimagine a '56 Nash Metropolitan and/or a '56 Chevrolet Bel Air. However I wouldn't use animal skins. In the age of extinction, that seems gratuitous.

  3. Amazing and beautiful cars! Each is truly a work of art.
    It's refreshing to see a car craftsman put so much thought, love, and pride in his work! If I had the money, I would buy one in a heartbeat. Keep up the great work Brothers!

  4. As a learning Land Surveyor detail is everything. At 5:45 when he said "Considerations for details like that are sadly forgotten". His emphasis on that verse especially the word "forgotten" hit me in a visceral way.

  5. This is so smart for them. I didn't even imagine that this is possible but their doing it possible. This is so lovely!

  6. Freethink…
    You didn't include the cost of these conversions. Most of the car's looked like the same old internal combustible engine's with some new electronics added. If they were all converted to electric, it would be worth the price.

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