The date was March 31, 2007. The place: Phoenix, Arizona. The reason we were there: to see the largest collection of Forward Control Jeeps we'd ever be likely to see celebrating the 50th anniversary of the FC's introduction.
They came from all over the country. Both the Jeeps and the people responded to the invitation-only event from the Forward Control Jeep Owners Club. All kinds of FCs were on display, from full-on restorations to chop-top FCs that needed to be trailered in, to FCs that never existed (but sure looked good), to the largest group of M-677s in one place since they rolled off the assembly line 40 years ago.
For those of you scratching your heads, here is a brief history: Forward Control Trucks were big in the early '50s. With the cab of the truck sitting over the engine and front wheels, there was more space for a bed, and in turn, cargo. Willy-Overland started producing its own FC truck in 1956, calling it the FC-150. It had an 81-inch wheelbase, and by 1957, a 103.5- inch-long wheelbase version, the FC-170, was also available. There were also military FCs made in four configurations. By 1965, though, Jeep had canned the Forward Control Trucks, relegating them to history and the select few who like their looks or utility and keep them on the road even today.
We got wind of the invitation-only national gathering of FC Owners in Phoenix and decided that, if we were ever going to learn more about this misbegotten and misunderstood Jeep, a national gathering of enthusiasts was the place to do it.
The FC is often mocked for being pug-ugly or having a face even a mother couldn't love. Well, after hanging out with these FC enthusiasts, Trasborg is now hunting for one. There is just no help for some people. For more info about the annual FC event go to thefcconnection.com.