Jay Leno met a 1948 Buick convertible that seems to defy logic in his garage. The vehicle in question is a restoration and modification by ICON’s founder, Jonathan Ward. In a March 29 episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, we get a closer look at its impressive and unique qualities.
To the casual observer, this convertible may look like it’s been neglected for the past few decades. It hasn’t. From winding California roads, to the stop lights near the ICON headquarters in Los Angeles, the ‘48 Buick convertible has left sports cars in a cloud of rubber and confusion.
Underneath a faded green hood lurks an artfully disguised 6.2-liter Corvette LS9 V8 that pumps out nearly 700 horsepower. To cope with that volume of power, Ward had his team of fabricators and restoration artists completely disassemble the Buick and reengineer its underpinnings, integrating the latest technology for performance and durability onto a custom-built chassis.
In addition to his bespoke creations, like the ‘48 Buick, Ward and his team at ICON are widely known for his restoration and modification of first generation Toyota FJ Cruisers and other exquisitely customized vehicles for on and off-road purposes.
We spoke to Ward about this unique car, and he shed a little more light on its restoration.
“The whole purpose of builds like this,” he explained, “is to revisit vehicles as a modern option to transportation, with the authentic feel of a classic. Wherever you go, people notice and enjoy the car; they’re always waving or giving you a thumbs-up.” This particular build, as he said, took approximately 2,000 hours to complete.
“After we’ve mocked up the car it’s completely torn apart and treated with protective polyurea on the underside for longevity and quality,” he continued.
In the video, Leno and Ward explore the finished car and point out some of the finer points that make it worthy of the ICON brand. The exterior chrome has been preserved in an appropriately pitted and dented condition in addition to the original paint scuffs and wear, it looks and feels like it’s been a daily driver for years.
Despite the fact that they are brand new, the mechanical and electrical systems seem like they were designed for this specific model. Under the hood, the mechanical and electrical systems are brand new, but appear to have been originally designed for this car. The LS9 engine cover was also modified to appropriately continue the body color and distressed trim theme.
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Inside, the ‘48 Buick appears to be stock, down to the faded tilt-steering wheel and chrome radio. But underneath these apparently untouched components lies the craftsmanship of Ward’s crew. A flat screen to access bluetooth, navigation, and entertainment is hidden where the internal workings of the original radio once lived. The steering column, originally unavailable in a tilt option, has been upgraded with something much newer, but retrofitted with the original wheel and distressed paint.
Even the upholstery, premium quality Italian leather, looks worn and faded. It’s brand new, but it has been intentionally treated to be susceptible to UV rays and age quickly. The center console, which never existed in the original interior, took 100 hours of modification time alone, as Ward’s own video, uploaded to YouTube Oct. 19, 2014, about the car explains.
While it may not blend in with your European exotics, this ‘48 Buick by Ward will hold its own and turn heads as it lays rubber drown on the asphalt. Check out the video above to see this Derelict Buick in action, taking corners without body-roll in a way the original roadmasters only dreamed of.
Click on the button below, check out the ICON vehicles we have listed and find your own one-off creation by Ward and his team.