Barn Find: 1960 Jeep FC Pickup
My “Unkle Jerry” (who is only 4 years older than me) sent photos of his son’s 1960 Jeep FC found in a barn in Hart, TX. The Jeep was used until 2006 – 46 years of service! The “FC” in the name means “Forward Control” indicating the cab over design of this series of Jeeps that were produced from 1957 through 1967 model years. (Production began in calendar 1956.)
Jerry writes that while the Jeep needs work, the motor runs and the transmission works. From the looks of it, the Jeep should be an easy restoration. Hart, TX is a small farming community in the Texas Panhandle a little south of the road on which I drove 100 mph for the first time in a ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk.
The Jeep Forward Control pickup truck was built with an incredibly short wheelbase – just 81 inches. While the FCs looked a little strange, they were perfect for hauling big loads through tight spaces. Drivers could easily maneuver through cramped city streets or confined building lots to get their loads where larger trucks simply couldn’t tread.
The FC 170 came with a slightly larger wheelbase of 103.5 inches, though that wheelbase was still smaller than nearly every other work vehicle on the road. Toward the end of the FC life cycle, the cab-forward trucks were even available with full-floating axles in the front and rear, a four-speed transmission and dual-rear wheels for seriously heavy-duty use.
The FC pickups were built on the CJ-5 chassis. The FC 150s (81 inch wheelbase) were powered with Jeep’s rugged four cylinder engine. The 103.5″ wheelbase FC 170s were powered with Jeep’s six cylinder engine. The U.S. military recognized that the Jeep FC’s short wheelbase but high hauling capacity design would work in Military applications. The Military adopted the FC, rebranding it under the designations M676, M677, M678, and M679. While the M676 was essentially the civilian FC-150, the latter three productions were tailor-made for military applications. The M677 featured a four-door crew cab with canopy over the bed, providing personnel transport. The M678 was converted from an open bed and frame to a full van body, providing transport for officers and small parties. The M679 provided additional modification atop the M678 chassis to function as an ambulance.
Brooks Stevens designed many Jeeps, including the FC
The FC was designed by Brooks Stevens, who had been long associated with Jeep designs. Stevens’ most famous – and long-lived – Jeep design was for the Grand Cherokee which shared many design themes with his design for the 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire. Stevens was a prolific designer – he created the original Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.
Above: Brooks Stevens with a prototype Jeep FC. Below: FC concepts by Stevens
Stevens’ creative mind envisioned a configuration of the FC that is now thought of as being the first minivan – 30 years before Chrysler launched their famous minivans:
A production FC modified to a van configuration. Brooks Stevens had created the archetypal minivan!
The Jeep FC seen here today was built in the year that Kaiser sold Jeep to American Motors. (Correction: see helpful comment below from Rick – AMC bought Jeep in 1970.) In the late ’80s, Chrysler bought American Motors, mostly to get Jeep which has become one of the strongest brands in the world. Now, Fiat-Chrysler is moving to further strengthen Jeep in world-wide markets. Jeep is by far the strongest part of the Fiat-Chrysler portfolio and the company recently killed off its Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 series cars in order to give that production capacity to Jeep. How things change! Willys was barely alive as a car maker when it landed the largest portion of the contracts to build Jeeps in World War II. Kaiser, struggling to stay in the car business bought Willys in 1953 and then sold Jeep to American Motors in 1960. Jeep has outlasted them all – and here “Unkle Jerry” and his son Paul have this Jeep FC “survivor.”
Big things come in small packages!
Some of the many configurations of the Jeep FC: