Forward Controls (FCs) are hands down the one design of Jeep that all critics—and most readers—would refer to as “so ugly that they’re cute.” The cab-over body style is functional, maneuverable, and in found in commercial use even to this day. The Jeep FC is experiencing a remarkable revival among high-end collectors and custom-Jeep builders as modern/modified larger-than-life off-road playthings.
Love to hate, hate to love—regardless of feelings toward them, these particular Jeeps are important for essentially one reason (and worth becoming well versed on). The Jeep FC is rare. A military FC is even more rare. They are expensive to restore; require considerable amounts of fabrication know-how; you likely need more than one FC in your garage to swap parts from; and most of all, you need good friends with an ear to the ground. The Forward Control community is exclusive, and members have the best knowledge and catalogue of not only most of the FCs in the U.S. but worldwide. They are also some of the most creative Jeep peeps you may ever get to meet, if you’re lucky.
This past summer, the first event featuring Military Series FCs was held on FC aficionado and collector Dan Horenberger’s expansive property in Marengo, Illinois. As aforementioned, a Jeep FC is rare and the FC collector is a special breed. These people are more than just emotionally attached to their restorations. They are hardworking and visionaries at their core. Although most FC owners are extraordinary in all aspects of life, there was but one Dan Horenberger. Dan, who hosted the Military FC Roundup, was a leader in the FC community. He recently passed away, but during his life, he was an FC collector, restoration expert, and historian. As a memorial to Dan Horenberger, the staff of Jp would like to offer all Jeep fans this glimpse into the life of one of the greatest FC antiquarians.
If Jeep Forward Controls Could TalkDan Horenberger owned one of the largest collections of Jeep FCs, as well as Crosleys, Triumphs, a unique Porsche, and a Brazilian A108 Willys Interlagos Berlineta. The list of his vehicles is too long to tally here. He was the owner of Brass Ring Entertainment Company, which, for more than 30 years, has been the premier source for antique carousel restoration.
Jesse Ybarra, FC collector and host of the Phoenix FC Roundup, told us, “When I first met Dan, I was in total awe because [Dan] showed me his collection. He was smiling and talking … [he] favored his Kaiser Military Jeep Forward Control Trucks, especially his rare M-676, M-677, M-678, and M-679. Dan owned the largest collection of civilian and military Jeep Forward Controls.”
Dan DeVries, FC preservationist, said “I got my M677 in 2004. [Dan] offered to send me copies of his manuals and any parts I needed for the Cerlist diesel engine. One of my glow plugs was bad so I emailed him to see if he knew where to buy a replacement. He said he couldn’t find any new replacements so he pulled one of his many spare engines and sent it to me for free. A few days after his Military FC show, we were talking about people ‘violating’ rare FCs. I began to rethink the repower plans for my Alaskan three-door FC-170. He told me to stick to my plans. It was fun to watch him at shows when a FC newbie would ask questions. He was a very good listener. He would listen intently and respond calmly. He was accurate and to the point with a smile.”