Rather than bring you the usual smattering of Jeeps we saw on the trail in Moab with no information about them, this year we wanted to change it up a bit. For our coverage of the Jeeps of 2013 Easter Jeep Safari, we decided to highlight a couple of Jeeps and provide information and tech specs about both of them. You probably already know you can see JKs and TJs out in Moab, Utah, at this event, so instead of showing you what you already know, we discovered a rare and almost-stock 1961 Jeep Forward Control 170 with lots of neat factory-spec options. We wanted to show that no matter what kind of Jeep you have, you too can have fun at the Easter Jeep Safari and in Moab.
This Forward Control belongs to Robert K. Brunner of Huntington, Maryland. Being from the Northeast, we know how things rust there, so we were shocked that this ’61 FC 170 survived so well. Unlike many East Coast and Northeast Jeeps, this truck still had factory sheetmetal in the floor, bed, cab corners, and elsewhere. We asked Robert about it straight away and discovered a neat little backstory to the Jeep. Robert was in the market for an old truck, something with style, something a little different, when his brother drove past an airport. This was somewhere in Idaho in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. The Jeep had a for sale sign on it, and his brother had a trailer. Robert found out he owned the Jeep when his brother called him to tell him he owed $2,000.
His brother then dragged the Jeep home to Colorado, spent a few years going through it to make it mechanically sound, and then shipped it east to its new home. Even though it was basically stock, Robert wasted no time in getting behind the wheel and driving this thing around. With 4.88 gears in the factory closed-knuckle front Dana 44 and rear Dana 53, it wasn’t long until today’s faster highway speeds became too much for the stock engine. Robert then decided a more modern powerplant was in order and swapped a 4.3L Chevy V-6 into the Jeep behind a huge aluminum radiator to keep cooling issues at bay. Unlike many other swaps we see this 4.3L is still carb’d, but it fires right up and runs fine on inclines and hills. The engine breathes easier through an open-element air filter and exhales through a true-dual exhaust with glasspacks. A TH700R4 tranny backs the engine, and that OD gear really helps drivability on the freeway. From the slushbox, power is handed off to a Dana 20 T-case that handles feeding the axles.
The longer-than-usual 9-foot bed was often seen in conjunction with dual rear wheels, but this Jeep has singles out back. In addition to the under-bed fuel tank, there are two factory-option 15-gallon tanks on the bed—one on either side. Mounted to the tanks are factory-optional spare tires as well. That’s right, two spares. The entire Jeep was painted in a retro two-tone white and orange paint scheme reminiscent of a factory paint job of this Jeep’s vintage.
The interior is quite Spartan, with many of the factory gauges and steel left alone. Seats were snagged from a Hyundai, and there is some sound deadening/heat protection on the doghouse, front wall, and roof. Beyond that, there’s lots of painted steel in here. The brake master cylinders are Wilwood units, but the Jeep has manual leg-strong braking and drums at all four corners. A Vintage Air heater sits in the factory spot and provides heat and much needed defrost capabilities for those miserable northeast winters.
Vehicle: 1961 Jeep FC-170
Engine: 4.3L V-6
Transfer Case: Dana 20
Suspension: Spring-over (front); spring-over (rear)
Axles: Dana 44 (front); Dana 53 (rear)
Tires: 30x9.50R15 Cooper Discoverer ST
Built For: Having a unique 4x4 truck
Why I Wrote This Feature
Many people don’t go to Moab or Easter Jeep Safari because they are worried that their Jeep isn’t built enough. I hear all the time how a lack of lockers, rollcage, or frilly pink dust cover stops guys from going. Robert had this Jeep shipped from Maryland to Phoenix, Arizona, for an FC event because it was cheaper than driving it. Then he drove it to Moab from Phoenix to play on the slickrock and dunes that surround the town. If he can have fun there in a largely stock FC-170, you can have fun in your Jeep, too.