The San Juan Scenic Tours Jeep Forward Control: Apocalpyse Vehicle Now

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

We were poking around when we stumbled onto a context-free image of this Jeep Forward Control monster truck. Our brains melted from the awesomeness and we had to know more. Immediately.

The Jeep Forward Control community is a delightfully off-kilter bunch, a group of people passionately dedicated to the rare and oft-forgotten FC Jeeps that were built from 1956 to 1965. The trucks came in two-door, four-door, and van variants, and they offered all the off-road ability of a Willys Jeep with added payload and all-weather prowess. They were available as a light duty FC-150, the heavier-duty FC-170, or the king-of-the-hill FC-170 DRW, whose name simply means "dual rear wheels." Forward Controls were also offered as chassis cabs; these were often used by emergency services as remote-response vehicles. They were also used by private firms that needed an elevated platform and off-road capability. One of those companies was San Juan Scenic Tours.


Back in the day, San Juan Scenic Tours provided backcountry tours through the southern Colorado's San Juan Moutains. The red monster FC was one of their vehicles. The monster-spec modifications — a full-length subframe, huge axles, and tractor-style duallies — were added some time after it was sold. When San Juan Tours used it, it had a custom bed with three rows of bench seats and provisions for a canvas canopy top.

One of the FC forum enthusiasts was on the hunt for one of an ex-San Juan Forward Control when he heard about this beast. After taking a look at it, he decided that it was solid enough to deserve a restoration to its original state. He took it home, took the cab and bed off the chassis, repaired and repainted the body, and then dropped it over a finished frame sporting a freshly rebuilt engine. It was then topped with a faithful reproduction of the original canopy. It immediately hit the trails for some open-top touring.

While we greatly respect the amount of love that it takes to bring a derelict vehicle back from the brink, the way it was found was also pretty amazing. (It's not often that you see an FC that has to be mounted by ladder.) Still, on balance, the restoration was worth the sacrifice. If this FC-170 was destined to be a museum piece, we'd call foul, but since it's back to seeing regular duty, we fully salute the effort. Nicely done.

[The FC Connection]