For decades, Jeep (previously Willys) has created a number of off-road utility vehicles, ranging from passenger vehicles to workhorses. But one of these designs didn’t quite get the love that Jeep wanted until long after its production run. Of course, we’re talking about the Jeep Forward Control (FC) models. This week we are going to explore these historic off-road machines in Vintage Monday.
The Jeep FC model was first introduced to the market in 1956, featuring a standard truck bed and a cab-over-engine passenger compartment design. Marketed as the FC-150, this early model shared a frame and 81-inch wheelbase with the CJ-5 Jeep, but offered a 78-inch bed.
Powering the off-road machine was a small, but reliable 134ci Hurricane four-cylinder engine backed by a three-speed Borg-Warner T90 manual transmission.
This changed in 1958, when the FC-150 model’s chassis was widened. Still equipped with the Hurricane I4 engine, these later FC-150 models were driven by a four-speed Borg-Warner T98 manual transmission.
Introduced in 1957, the FC-170 was an even larger Forward Control model, featuring a 103-inch wheelbase and a 108-inch bed. This model was equipped with a 226ci six-cylinder Super Hurricane engine, which propelled the vehicle’s 7,000-pound mass in correspondence with, first, a three-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission, and then a four-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission.
In 1958, a new longer wheelbase of 108 inches was tested on the FC-170 model, which was done to accommodate the larger 272ci Y-Block V8 engine that was being introduced. This engine could only be backed by the already available four-speed Borg-Warner transmission due to potential issues with the driveshaft angle, while the I6-equipped models were available with a new three-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission.
Branching off of the FC-170 model was the larger FC-170 DRW model.
The DRW was equipped with a dual-wheeled rear axle and a 120-inch bed. These added features bumped the truck’s weight up to between 8,000 and 9,000 pounds.
The last two FC models “offered” at the time were introduced as concepts in 1957. These were the 10,000-pound FC-180 model and the 16,000-pound FC-190 model.
The FC-180 model was essentially an enlarged FC-170 DRW model, featuring a 120-inch wheelbase and a 150-inch bed. Engine options for this model if it was ever put into production were the Super Hurricane I6 and the Y-Block V8 also offered on the later FC-170 models. Either a four-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission or a three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission could be had with either engine choice.
The largest model of them all, the FC-190 concept featured a 150-inch wheelbase and a 202-inch flatbed. It also featured dual axles, but was also set to share many parts from the FC-170 and FC-180 models.
Said to be only available with the Y-Block V8 engine if produced, the FC-190 would have come standard with the four-speed Borg-Warner transmission, while the three-speed automatic transmission would have been offered as an option.
Marketed as work trucks with many available options, like tow truck and firetruck packages, the FC models were popular for military applications, as well as for municipal use. The vehicles were also used as passenger vehicles.
Though widely used, the U.S.- made civilian FC models weren’t quite as popular as predicted, with just over 30,000 models made in their nine-year production run. The FC lineup was nixed in 1964.
As military vehicles, the FC models took on new names like M676 for the base model, M677 for the four-door crew cab model with a canopy bed cover, M678 for the “van” bodied model and M679 for the ambulance version.
FC models were also produced in other countries by Jeep predecessors, including the FC-150, mid-range 93-inch wheelbase FC-160, and the FC-170 model in India. FC-150s were available starting in 1965 in India with the others to follow. An FC-260 light diesel truck was also available in India starting in 1975.
Jeep partners in Spain also created FC models of their own, starting in the 1970s. At Off Road Xtreme, the Jeep Forward Control (FC) is one of our all-time favorite vintage off-road machines. What do you think? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the Comments section below.