The Jeep Forward Control is a Truck that was produced by Willys and then Kaiser Jeep from 1956 to 1965. It was also assembled in other international markets. The layout featured a Cab forward, also known as cab-over-engine (COE) design.
Willis produced utility vehicles that remained almost unchanged since 1947. As the marketplace grew more competitive in the 1950s, management developed a new range of modern cab and body trucks. Designer Brooks Stevens used styling cues from full-size cab-over-engine trucks. Engineering was based on existing Jeep. Power came from the Willys F-head and L-head 4-cylinder engines.
The Forward Control models were primarily marketed as work vehicles for corporate, municipal, military, as well as civilian use. Regular pickup box beds were standard, but customers were offered a large number of "Jeep approved" specialized bodies from outside suppliers. These ranged from simple flatbeds to complete Tow trucks, Dump trucks, and Fire trucks.
Proposals included a "Forward Control Commuter" design that could have been among the earliest minivan-type vehicles. Three operational Concept cars were built by Reutter in Stuttgart, West Germany. Brooks Stevens was also involved in the transformation of this truck platform into a passenger vehicle.
Introduced in 1956, FC-150 models had short Wheelbase of only with a bed. In 1958, the FC-150 received a new, wider chassis. Its tread was widened from to .
Introduced in 1957, FC-170 models had a wheelbase with a bed. This model is significant as it was the first time the length of the payload box - with the tailgate up - exceeded the wheelbase of a truck. This was achieved by the forward cabin layout.
This is a 1-ton dual-wheeled rear axle (dually) model with a load bed. These models have gross weights of or .
The FC Jeeps were exhibited to Jeep dealers in a closed-circuit telecast on November 29 1956, and were on display for the public at the December 1956 National Automobile Show in New York City. The FC-150 hit dealer showrooms on December 12 1956. The initial response to the four-wheel drive FC Jeeps was favorable. Their best sales year came in 1957, when 9,738 were trucks sold. After the introduction of the FC-170 in 1957, FC-150 sales dropped to 1,546 units in 1959, before rebounding to 4,925 in 1960. Neither model became the big seller that Willys had hoped. Total production in nine years was just over 30,000 units. The FC line was discontinued in 1964.
Aside from Forward Control Jeeps being built for civilian use there were also four models manufactured for the military.
- M676 - Basically a civilian FC with minor modifications
- M677 - A four door crew cab with a canopy over the bed
- M678 - An FC with a van body
- M679 - An M678 refitted as an ambulance
Numerous versions of FC models (most not available in the domestic market) were manufactured in many other nations under collaboration agreements with successive owners of Jeep: Willys, Kaiser Jeep, and American Motors (AMC).
Mahindra & Mahindra Limited in Bombay (Mumbai), India began its vehicle business in 1947 by assembling Complete knock down (CKD) Jeeps. It started FC-150 production in India in 1965 and later expanded the model range for the Domestic market to include the FC-170, as well as its own intermediate sized FC-160.
The FC-160 (and later FJ-160) uses a wheelbase. The pick-up box was by Mahindra and other bodies were available. The "cowl and Chassis only" FC-160 model was popular during the 1970s for conversion into mini-buses, Ambulances, and other vehicles. Most have the basic front face of the FC. Manufacture of the Mahindra FC-160 pickup truck ended in the summer of 1999.
The FC-260 Diesel light truck was introduced in 1975. Currently, Mahindra's FJ-460 (introduced in 1983) and FJ-470 van or mini-bus vehicles retain the grille arrangement of the original Forward Control. These vehicles can accommodate from 11 to 15 passengers plus the driver.
In the 1960s, Kaiser-Willys licensed VIASA (Vehículos Industriales y Agrícolas, S.A.) to build Jeeps in Spain. During the late-1970s, VIASA was absorbed by Ebro trucks (a division of Motor Iberica). The "SV" line of commercial trucks were built using a Jeep chassis, just like the FC models in the USA. The unique Iberian models included the Campeador (one-ton pickup), Duplex (double cab pickup), Furgon (one-ton van), and the Toledo (9-seat van). Two engines were available: the Willys in-line six or a Perkins 4-cylinder Diesel.
- Foster, Patrick R. "1957-65 Jeep Forward Control Trucks: Too Far Forward?" Collectible Automobile, Vol. 24, No. 1, June 2007, pp 52-63.
- The Jeep® Forward Control Page, retrieved on September 23 2007.
- Jeep Forward Control Fire Engines page, retrieved on September 23 2007.
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