(first posted 2/23/2011) For a longtime lover of this vehicle, this is hot news indeed. Hemmingsblog has laid their hands on the original color photos of the Brooks Stevens designed 1958 Jeep FC-150 passenger van prototype, of which three were built by Reutter in 1958. Up until now, those afflicted with FC-150 fever had to do with mere black and whites. No longer. For those uninitiated in the cult of the Jeep FC truck that this was based on, follow me:
I’ll show you one more pic of the van; if you want to see the handsome interior, head over there yourself. This precursor to the modern compact van is based on a vehicle I’ve been eagerly keeping my eyes peeled for for a future CC. No luck so far, so I’ll improvise.
As we noted in the Jeepster Commando CC, Jeep desperately tried to find new market niches in the fifties beyond the CJ and Wagon. After the first Jeepster failed, designer Brook Stevens was inspired by the growing number of COE (cab over engine) big trucks, and took the bold step of adapting the concept to the chassis of the CJ. The result, the 1956 FC-150 (forward control) is a bit startling for its proportions. It looks so front heavy, and the CJ5’s ultra-short 81″ wheelbase and narrow track accentuated the effect. But it was unique…in its capabilities and looks.
Some of its unique capabilities included rolling forward end over end on steep downgrades when the brakes were applied. This is not a vehicle CR would approve.
The FC-150’s short 6.5′ bed was a bit limiting for serious ranch and off-road work, so a stretch job was undertaken: add 22″ inches to the wheelbase, and presto: the FC-170 was born. This puppy had a 9′ bed, which made the 170 unique in having a longer bed than its wheelbase (103″). Even dually versions were made, which were often converted into little off-road capable fire engines.
I knew a guy in Colorado who had sort of a hybrid of the two, call it an FC-160. It started out as a 150, but he replaced the gutless little 75 hp Hurricane F-head four with a Chevy small block V8. To accommodate it, he cut the frame and welded extensions on it. He took me an an awesome ride over rough old mining roads in it, and it made wonderful sounds from the crude home-made high pipes sticking up behind the cab like are those that all the rage now. That was in 1973, and when the FC really got under my skin (in the original meaning of that expression)..