I have to admit that I’ve always had a thing for the Forward Control Jeeps. Somewhat odd-looking and slightly quirky in nature, the trucks have such a distinctive look about them that you can’t help but stop and take a closer look. The Forward Control, or FC as most people refer to them, was produced from 1956 to 1965 with an estimated total of 30,000 trucks coming off the assembly line. The concept and idea was simple: create a work truck that could be used in civilian, commercial, and military applications.
The first Jeep Forward Control to go into production was the FC-150. It used the frame and wheelbase of a CJ-5 and was powered by a Hurricane F134 4-cylinder engine producing roughly 75 horsepower. The truck was well received by the consumer market and almost 10,000 units were sold the first year. Based upon the success of the FC-150, Jeep returned the following year with the FC-170 which featured a longer wheelbase and bed.
All in all, there were a total of five different models produced during the FC’s run with each subsequent model providing a longer wheelbase and more powerful drivetrain. The United States military put four different FC models into service: the M676, M677, M678, and M679. These trucks served a variety of roles, with the later three models receiving body modifications to be used as crew cab, cargo van, and ambulance configurations.
On a trip to Moab earlier this year for the annual Easter Jeep Safari, I spotted a FC170 in the parking lot of the Moab Brewery. Captivated by the excitement of seeing a FC in person and how clean this particular truck was, I tracked down the owner and found out as much as I could about the truck. The owner, Bob Brunner, told me that the Jeep was a ’61 and that his brother Chris had found it in his travels somewhere in the middle of nowhere. This was the Jeep’s first journey to EJS and Bob said that it wasn’t a show queen so he was going to take it out on some of the trails while he was in town. I asked him if I could photograph his FC and we exchanged contact information and met up later that week.
The following photos were taken when I caught up with Bob later that week at one of my favorite spots in Moab just outside of town …
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One can’t help but fall in love with such a gorgeous truck. The simplicity of design and function are some of the best features about the Jeep Forward Control. They were designed to be a no frills workhorse and simply be used as a tool to help their owners get the job done. Whether you worked on a ranch or ran a local delivery company, Jeep had envisioned that there was a model of FC for you. It’s unfortunate that the vehicles didn’t have a longer production run and such a limited quantity were manufactured.
FC enthusiasts today face a short supply of parts and those looking to own an FC are faced with the choice of using picking between a dilapidated carcass that has long been forgotten or a pristine collector truck that is only rising in value as demand continues to increase. Much of that recent spike in demand can be attributed to one truck in particular, the Mighty FC.
In 2012, Mark Allen and his group of mad scientists at the Jeep Design team shocked the Jeep and off-road community. They unveiled a concept truck at that year’s Easter Jeep Safari that nobody saw coming, the Mighty FC. A stunning tribute to the original Forward Controls of yesteryear, the Mighty FC featured a bold and modern look, but the heritage was unmistakable.
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The cab of the Mighty FC was created by combining the cab a modern 2-door Jeep Wrangler and the roof of Mopar’s JK8 pickup truck kit. Powered by a 3.6 liter V6 engine out of a Jeep Rubicon, the Mighty FC used a Wrangler chassis that was extended out to 117 inches. The real eye catcher was the portal axles that the design team went with. Giving the vehicle an extra 5.5 inches of lift, the Might FC towered over other Jeeps and trucks as it sat on 39″ Krawler tires mounted on Hutchinson bead-locks.
The interior of the Mighty FC was made using mostly stock items right out of the Wrangler. However, in order to give it a retro feel, the design team decided to go with a fabric pattern that would be fitting of the earlier FC models. Using material from a couple Burton snowboard bags, the seats and armrests were given a wild plaid touch to complete the package.
While any hopes of the Mighty FC ever going into production were about as likely as Jeep giving away free Wranglers, the concept truck did a couple of things. First, it rekindled a love affair of a quirky truck that many had long since forgotten. There will now be a new generation of FC enthusiasts that may not have known the original truck existed until the Mighty FC debuted. Second, the Mighty FC was an incredible example of successfully blending a historical design with modern inspiration and technology. Many manufacturers have tried the retro concept vehicles, but very few have succeeded. Mark Allen and his team at Jeep Design hit a home run with the Mighty FC and helped rekindle a love affair with a classic truck.
– Mighty FC images courtesy of Chrysler Group, LLC