1957 Forward Control Jeep - Truck Trend History
It's What's Up Front That Counts
In December 1956, writer/reviewer Bob Scollay took photographer Colin Creitz and the newest Jeep Willys model out for a jaunt in the hills above Los Angeles. His story on the Forward Control Jeep carried the title, "Wild Willys: A Heap of Jeep." The Table of Contents tagline stated: "The new FC-150 Jeep goes where even motorcycles fear to tread."
That was a different time. The hills were not so crowded with expensive homes, and motorcycles were far less capable than those of today. Still, the new Jeep was very different from any other small truck of the time. Its boxy cab-over-engine design predated the similar Ford Falcon Econoline and later Dodge A100 designs by years. Scollay referred to it as the "Helicopter Look."
The idea wasn't based on looks, but cargo area availability. The farther forward the cab was, the more room for cargo on any given wheelbase. In this case, the ½-ton capacity FC-150 offered 74.5 inches of cargo box over the 81-inch wheelbase. For taller loads, it was available with a stake bed.
Power came from the Willys L-head four-cylinder engine putting out 72 horses. It appears Scollay misidentified the engine in his story, stating it was a Jeep six-cylinder. D'oh! The driveline was available as either a 4x4 or 4x2 configuration. Transfer case actuation uses a single lever, unlike most Jeeps of the time.
A larger version, the FC-170, rated at 1-ton capacity, utilizes a longer 108-inch wheelbase.
Bob Scollay's full story can be found in the February 1957 issue of Motor Trend magazine.