Motion & Emotion

This Icon-Built Thriftmaster Could Master a Few Other Things, Too


Maybe it’s all those days when you read breathless press releases about how the design of the new car’s air vents is “much more dynamic” than that of the previous model. Or when a BMW 330i is no longer powered by a three-litre engine but by a turbocharged two-litre engine “that has the power of a naturally aspirated three-litre engine”. And do not even get us started on what Audi is up to with its “’40’ means between so much and so much power” nonsense.

Now that we know what we do not like, you might be wondering what we do like? Well, how about the Thriftmaster? No excuses, no “aspirational” language, no folderol. Just clear, blunt facts. You know precisely what you are getting with a vehicle called a Thriftmaster – something that helps you get done what you need to get done as cheaply as possible.

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Okay, fine. To be completely accurate, the term “Thriftmaster” refers to an engine (and associated trim level) of Chevy’s “Advance Design” trucks – they were available with larger engines in the Loadmaster trim or smaller, more efficient engines in the Thriftmaster. Of course, there are several subtleties and variations in all of this, but that’s the gist of it. The Thriftmaster was the Chevy lorry you bought to save money. Or at least it was.

The Icon Thrift Master (yes, space and capitalisation intended) is, as far as we can tell, the show lorry to beat all show trucks. Like all the Icon models we have seen, it’s exceptionally carefully constructed and exemplary in its finish – especially the fantastic load floor (a phrase we never thought we’d write) made of walnut wood finished using a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban.


The wood is carefully charred, cooled, cleaned, and oiled in this process. The wood is thus refined and made fireproof without the need for the worrying chemical cocktails we use these days. But even with its Kevin McCloud-specific trim, Icon’s Thrift Master is “the show lorry to beat all show trucks”, and we did not mean the Show ‘n’ Shine.

Because underneath the “it was better in my day” look is a brand new chassis with fully adjustable coil-over suspension and six-piston Brembo brakes, as well as a genuine LS3 with 440 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Funnily enough, GM never called its LS V8 a ‘Thriftmaster’, but we suspect that it still gets the same mileage even in a car as rudimentary as LS with all the modern bells and whistles. If you are the sort who spends hundreds of thousands on a wholly overhauled lorry with an LS engine and then get angry about the fuel consumption.


What it definitely can do is outshine any lorry of the era and probably any unmodified pick-up right up to the Holden Special Vehicles Maloo supercars. As it happens, these also fetch six-figure sums these days. On the other hand, both can rival real sports cars on almost any road you can imagine. Yes, literally. And you know how much value we place on that word.




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