Icon Helios: the Tesla Model S streamliner inspired by DC-1s

Published: 01 August 2014

US craft modders Icon have come up with an unusual take on the electric car: the new Icon Helios is a dramatically rebodied Tesla Model S inspired by streamliners and ‘30s aircraft.

Better known for modifying Land Rovers and Jeeps, Icon CEO and lead designer Jonathan Ward has now turned his hand to a more futuristic idea - making electric cars truly desirable.

The Icon Helios is the result. And, we hope you agree, the blueprints are breathtaking…

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Icon Helios: the first design sketches

Ward told CAR that he had not intended to go public on the project, but after he gave a keynote speech at Nike a handful of the Helios’s design sketches leaked out, prompting him to announce the project.

At this stage, the Helios is but a glimmer in Ward’s sketch pad and he’s seeking a (presumably wealthy) client to turn his dream into a reality. The car is named after the ancient Greek god of the sun, who drove a chariot across the heavens.

Jonathan Ward on the Icon Helios

Over to Ward to explain the thinking behind the Icon Helios: ‘Although almost all of our projects thus far have been recreations - resto-mods, or whatever they are - inspired by vintage vehicles, I am fascinated about the concept of revisiting history in our own way. To me, the most interesting way to do this is by celebrating a particular era of design, or design language.

‘More interesting still, is when we start to think about what could have happened, had history gone a different way. This “revisionist” approach to transportation design has filled my little brain with tons of ideas and theoreticals. This one has literally been keeping me up at night!’

The inspiration for the Icon Helios

Ward said he had sought inspiration from looking back at history, wondering what would have happened if world war hadn’t broken out and if the Great Depression hadn’t changed Americans’ industrial and aesthetic outlook.

‘What would have happened ‘if the industrial revolution had not introduced a perversion where quantity rules over quality and details?’ Ward said. ‘If the automotive industry at large had taken inspiration from aircraft perhaps 10-15 years earlier than they did? If the American coachbuilder scene had continued to flourish?’

He added that the Icon Helios is unashamedly inspired by airliners such as the DC-1 experimental plane of the 1930s – in particular its sheet metalwork and exposed joints.

Why base the Helios on a Tesla?

‘In keeping with the founding premise at Icon, of fusing vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology, I can think of no better platform to build this on, than the Tesla,’ Ward told CAR.

‘I have such great respect for the company and the creative spirit of Mr Musk, plus the S is a blast to drive. This project is currently only a concept, but one that I will move mountains to figure out how to get built!

‘This design could be realised with a variety of chassis and powerplants. At this stage, we are looking for a client interested in working with us to create this unique rolling sculpture.’

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet