Jonathan Ward. If you’re a Bronco or Land Cruiser fanatic, you probably know of him. If not, you’ve definitely seen his work.
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The DNA of Perfection
From V8 engine swaps, one of the shop's bread-and-butter services, to full custom builds, DCD crafts some of the most impeccable--and unique--Jeeps in the world. That DNA of obsessive drive towards perfection is the lifeblood of DCD. David Tonapetyan, the founder of DCD, immigrated to the US from Armenia at the age of 17 with nothing to his name. He decided, if he was going to make it, he knew he had to learn two languages to make a living: English and cars.
So, David learned on the fly. He worked in mechanic shops, car washes, and eventually opened a shop specializing in European exotics, a line of work that requires exacting perfection. But outside of his shops, off-roading was where he spent his time.
David started DCD Customs to make a living doing what he loved. He built Jeeps as a one-man-show, and it wasn’t long before the quality and capability of his builds started turning heads on the trail. His reputation spread from friends and family to enthusiasts, and eventually, Middle Eastern royalty.
DCD Customs now meticulously churns out around 50 vehicles per month, each one different from the last, and all entirely capable of taking on the world when the road ends.
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How does a Jeep Turn From Dream to Reality?
The first step is picking wheels and tires, which sets the direction for the entire build. Tires determine the type of terrain it’s built to conquer, and ultimately the machine’s purpose. Whether it’s a rock crawler or made to mud, the tires determine what the Jeep can overcome, based on the driver’s needs. DCD then designs the rest of the vehicle: the color, the style, the functional modifications, everything— around that specific package. It’s why a Jeep from DCD is a truly bespoke build, and not a collection of sporadic aftermarket mods.
Partnership with the customer is a large part of DCD’s identity. These Jeeps aren’t just David’s dream; they’re a shared vision. It’s a reflection of the customer’s identity. However, in order to sport the DCD badge, it has to perform.
That stamp of approval is something David takes very seriously. The reputation of DCD Customs rides on the integrity of every Jeep that rolls out of his shop.
It’s About the Feeling
A DCD Jeep often carries a hefty price tag. But for David, it’s not about money. It’s about the feeling that Jeeping creates.
Oddly enough, the way David clears his mind from the stresses of work and the world is to take a step back from building, and start driving one of his creations.
“It’s the only thing that clears my head… Whenever you’re off-roading, you have to concentrate. So you forget about everything, without you wanting to forget,” said David.
That’s the feeling that keeps him going. High-octane thrills don’t require high speeds. It’s crawling at 2mph that makes your heart beat out of your chest. It’s building a machine that can grapple with a world that so often fights back. So, his mission is to spread that feeling. While every build is always stunningly unique, they’re tied together by a common thread. If you have the courage to sit in the driver’s seat and stare down your obstacles--with two hands on the wheel and one foot on the gas--you’ll truly be free.