The Short Bus
"Maximum payload on minimum wheelbase" is how Jeep pushed the Forward Control. That, and its visibility, maneuverability, and stationary power from three separate take-off points. The motto back in the late 1950s was, "A Jeep for every job," and this was the work truck in the CJ lineup. The vehicle's appearance and cab-over-engine style were deemed forward-thinking at the time. After all, you could "see the road six feet from the front bumper." Ah, yes, "forward-thinking"- the design equivalent of "butter face."
|’56 FORWARD CONTROL JEEP FC-150||ENGINE|
|Wheelbase: 81 in.||F-head four-cylinder|
|Overall length: 146 in.||Displacement: 134.2 in.|
|Overall width: 74.42 in.||Bore x stroke: 3.12x4.37 in.|
|Overall height: 78.02 in.||Compression ratio: 6.9:1 (high-altitude option: 7.4:1)|
|Curb weight: 3,141 lbs.||Horsepower: 72 @ 4,000 rpm|
|Torque: 114 @ 2,000 rpm|
|Transfer case: |
|Induction: 1-bbl Carter carburetor|
The Forward Control (better known as the FC series) debuted in 1956 (for Willys Motors) and was euthanized in 1965 (by Kaiser Jeep). Its quirk was that the cab was forward of the engine (creating extra cargo space), right smack over the front wheels. That made it an equal competitor for cargo-carrying abilities (other than spare tire/wheelwell issues), but it was nimble too (a turning radius of 18 feet). As you might suspect from looking at it, the FC was a wee light in the front-end loafers-therefore, on the 150 model, its real quirk had to do with a problem of tipping on its nose when heading down hill (a cast-iron weight was later added behind the rear axle).
The Model/The Body
The FC-150 was the first in the series to arrive, a no-brainer launch because it used the CJ-5 chassis. A year later came the FC-170, built off a widened Willys utility-wagon chassis. It was wider (76.94 inches), longer (181.47 inches), and taller (79.41 inches) than the 150, and its turning radius measured in at 21 feet. What made the cab-over unique was the payload-to-weight ratio-on the 170, it maxxed out at 3,510 pounds in a 45-cubic-foot box on that 103.5-inch wheelbase. The 81-inch FC wheelbase could carry 1,635 pounds in the stake body, 1,727 as a pickup. The '59 FC-170 added a heavy-duty model, with a beefier rearend and dualie rear tires. That same year, the FCs saw a slight redesign of the cab (a more level tunnel, for example) for better cooling.
The FC-150 sported the CJ-familiar four-cylinder F-head Hurricane engine, which made 72 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The 170 had the 226-ci High Torque Super Hurricane six-cylinder for 190 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm and 105 hp at 3,600 rpm. It had a compression ratio of 6.86:1 (although 7.3:1 was the optional ratio) and a bore-and-stroke of 3.312x4.375 inches. And, yes, the engine was pretty much accessible from inside the cab. A Cerlist three-cylinder diesel was also available, but only on some military models. It pumped out 85 hp and 170 lb-ft.
The standard transmission was the floor-shift, synchromesh three-speed Borg-Warner T-90A, although the heavier-duty synchromesh Borg-Warner T-98 four-speed was also available a few years later.
The Transfer Case
Both the FC-150 and FC-170 came equipped with the two-speed Spicer Model 18 T-case with 2.43:1 low ratio.
The FC-150 started off with a Dana 25 frontend, but in about two years made the leap to a closed-knuckle Dana 44 (this helped with stability). A Dana 44 brought up the rear on the 150. Meanwhile, the FC-170 ran with a 44 up front and a 53 rear (out back was a semi-floater that had a capacity of 4,500 pounds). The 170 had 4.88 gears; the 150 used 5.38s. In addition to the axle upgrade to try to keep the 150 upright, a year later there was a switch to a wider track (57 inches front and rear; the 170 was at 63 inches), and the leaf springs were moved outside the frame (matching the 170).
Also in 1959 came components that could bump the 170 from its 7,000 GVW class to 8,000- and 9,000-pound grouping. Opting for the modified platform stake model's heavy-duty rear springs equaled nine leaves rated at 672 pounds per inch and a capacity of 7,500 pounds, plus a Dana 70 dualie rearend or stronger Dana 53. Bigger rear shocks and 12- and 13-inch drum brakes (front and rear, respectively) could also be had.