This year (2016) is all about heritage for the Jeep brand. It’s a banner celebration of all makes and models, including some of the more unique models. In fact, at Easter Jeep Safari (EJS), Jeep debuted an impressive Forward Control (FC-150) farm-ready throwback mounted on a TJ frame with the classic 4.0L underneath. There’s a lot of style packed in this concept. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s worth spending a few more minutes on the Four Wheeler Network.
We recently uncovered another noteworthy FC that is well known among the FC community, but it’s a bit of a hidden gem. “Marvin’s Jeep,” as it is fondly called among friends, is an FC with a story to tell. Marvin Lehman took this little truck home “brand new” to his wife, Bunny, in 1960. The two would adventure together down service roads just outside of the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. They would also have picnics, hunt, and explore trails together. Eventually this maneuverable workhorse was purposed to gather boulders for Marvin and Bunny’s cabin near Oak Creek Canyon. Together Marvin, Bunny, and the vehicle raised a family, built a home, and grew old together.
That romantic image of wandering the woods together in a work truck made just big enough for two is just part of what deems this particularly a cut above the numerous FCs on the road today. Completely unrestored, but rather preserved, Marvin’s FC-150 is essentially a national treasure. The original factory equipment is in rare form, and better yet, most of the features, including the motor, are fully functional. The pictures here do little to show the pristine form and period items outfitted throughout this FC-150, but see if you can spot the original gun rack among more of Marvin’s retro items.
There are two important features to see here. Those Dunlop Extra Heavy Duty Triple Traction tires are rumored to be original on 15-inch wheels. The camper shell was also a dealer-installed optional accessory, circa 1959-1960.
The chronology of the life of this FC is well documented. Marvin Lehman and his wife Bunny acquired the truck as you see it from Earl Motors in Glendale, Arizona. In 2007, at 91 years old, Marvin passed the truck to Andrea Ybarra.
Jeep FCs came with a driver and passenger seat, but if you look closely, you will notice directly over the motor hood is a third seat. Jesse and Andrea Ybarra told us Marvin made this petite bench for his wife Bunny so when they drove country roads together she could slide over next to him.
As with all FCs, removing a fiberglass housing reveals the engine, which is between the driver and passenger seat, inside the cab. The design was a direct translation from the semi-truck body, and for comfort, the engine hood provided insulation from noise and heat.
The F4-134 Hurricane was used in a few models across the Jeep lineup from ’54-’71. Based on the Go-Devil flathead, the valve openings were increased and the combustion chamber decreased, ultimately increasing the flow and consequently adjusting the compression ratio from the previous model to 7.5:1. It’s a solid design, with decent results, a real soldier in its time until emissions control marched it to its death.
This is Marvin Lehman sometime around 1960, a legend among FC lovers. He was the only owner prior to Andrea of this FC-150 that served as a rock hauler around the mountains north of Phoenix in Sedona, Arizona. Marvin attended the FC Roundups in Phoenix Arizona until 2009 until he passed away at the age of 93. Photo courtesy of Scott Lehman.
One of the original dealer-installed accessories on this FC-150 was the canvas camper shell, which is still atop the bed. Marvin installed a curtain to separate the camping area from the front of the cab for privacy.
When looking for a barn find or on Craigslist, traditionally one of the aging qualities of an FC is a sagging headliner. Temperature changes, moisture and mold, among other environmental factors, all have an effect on the condition of the soft touch materials of a historic vehicle. This pinhole liner is original and shows little sign of wear in the Arizona sun. Marvin also added this AM radio and CB.
Check out the glove box. It is exactly as it was when the keys were handed from Marvin Lehman to Andrea Ybarra. The oil seals and the Kleenex box above belonged to Marvin.
That parched piece of paper has penciled on it the original service records in Marvin’s hand. Marvin took loving care of this truck, down to every detail. The truck was also outfitted with a rear frame-mounted crane to lift boulders into the bed, and it’s one of the few accessories no longer in place.
The FC-150 is ready for any adventure. It sits in its stock form, beautiful and pristine. Notice the “Safety View” glass window allowing passengers to see in every direction while driving.
It’s no mystery why the legacy of this ’60 FC-150 has been passed on to another epic couple. Andrea, the current owner of this little truck, is the wife of Jesse Ybarra, the “father” to all FCs and storehouse of information to those who seek knowledge about this rare Jeep.
Good, Bad, and What It’s For
Maximum cargo space, exceptional maneuverability and visibility, and more payload per pound of vehicle, it was marketed as “more bang for your buck.” Although sometimes a bit “tippy” because of all the weight forward of the front axle, the FC design featured a “Safety View” cab. How is that for a sales tactic?
Why I Wrote This Feature
During the eight years the FC-150 Jeep truck was produced, a reported 16,251 came off the assembly line by the close of 1964. Marvin Lehman (and now Andrea Ybarra) are preserving the history of this FC-150 like it’s a rare dinosaur. The Ybarras told us that they were not going to “enhance” anything; the truck is perfect as it is.” I couldn’t agree more!
Vehicle: ’60 Willys Jeep Forward Control FC-150
Engine: Hurricane F-134
Transmission: Three-speed manual (BW T-90A)
Transfer Case: Spicer Model 18 with a 2.43:1 low ratio
Axles: Front Dana 44 front and rear
Drivetrain: standard “Hi-Lo” shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive
Chassis: Available as a pickup, stake side, or cab-and-chassis