Jeep didn’t have the idea first–after all, Volkswagen was already building Transporters with an up-front bubble cab–but it was still something of a shock back in 1957 when Jeep first rolled out its Forward Control line of pickups. They’re an adjunct to Jeep history today, yet they still represent some, if you will, forward thinking in terms of packaging and space maximization. Plop the cab on top of the engine and you’ll have room for a bigger cargo bed. The tilt-cab Mitsubishi Fuso that just delivered your new futon follows the same principle, close to 40 years after Jeep dropped the Forward Control trucks from its lineup.
Despite the “wow, what’s that” nature of their design, the first Forward Control pickups were immediately recognizable as Jeeps, due in no small measure to their upright front fascia with vertical cooling slots. The Forward Control was offered in two model ranges, as either a pickup or chassis-cab unit for accepting an aftermarket body. In its most basic form, the FC-150, the Forward Control rode on the same chassis as the Jeep CJ-5. The FC170 was more stout, and featured a 6 cylinder powerplant.
While the U.S. military never embraced them as tightly as their more conventional brethren, the Forward Controls found a bunch of happy buyers in civilian life. Fire departments and rescue teams bought them by the score because of their adaptability to backcountry operations. Farmers liked them; they hauled a lot of hay but didn’t eat a lot of fuel. It wasn’t uncommon to see them pressed into snow-clearing duties at airports, with a spreader attached to their salt-laden beds.
Forward Control Jeeps aren’t as easy to find today as their longitudinally laid-out siblings, but they do enjoy a following. It’s been more than 35 years since the cab-forward American light pickup fell by the wayside. Time for a comeback, just maybe? This example hasn’t been driven in a decade, but has been barn kept. Same owner since the 70’s. We will endeavor to get it back on the road in the coming few weeks.
Location: Bremerton, Washington, United States
Seller's eBay profile: cosmotors (Affiliate link)