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Classic Car Corner: Trucks

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere

More trucks – Last year I sold one more vehicle than I bought so I figured I had room for one more this year.  I have several trucks but none that I could actually haul much in so I thought I’d look for a newer truck (like 60s or even 70s) that I could haul stuff around in without worrying about damaging it.

I found a nice 1967 Ford Ranger (not today’s Ranger but a full size truck) step side, short box and the seller even agreed to take  my old beat up Kubota tractor as partial payment.   

It turned out that my new truck was still too nice to haul stuff around in with its nicely finished wood bed and spotless Ermine white paint so I decided to look for a 1949-1964 Willys pickup.  

I had owned a real nice one before (which I shouldn’t have sold) and thought a Willys pickup would work just fine. I looked at a couple, including a 750 mile drive to Kellogg, Idaho and couldn't find a decent one.

In my searching I accidently found a 1957 Willys Forward Control 150 pickup. A very funny looking truck that I had heard of but had never seen.

Well, sure enough I went to take a look and decided I had to have it so I bought it and gave up on the traditional Willys pickup that I was actually looking for.

The Willys FC 150 pickup was designed by famous designer Brook Stevens.  He also designed the 1949 Harley Davidson, 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk (I had a 64 myself), the venerable Jeep Wagoneer and a slew of succesful non-automotive design projects.

The FC first came out in 1957 and featured 4 wheel drive on a Jeep CJ5 frame with a little flathead 4 cylinder engine.  

They produced 9738 in that year. It was built on the CJ frame so had an 81” wheel base with a 78” bed! These trucks were high and short and could roll over or even flip right over the front end if you braked too heavily going downhill so the next year they widened and lengthened it a bit. My truck is only 10” longer than it is wide.

This was designed to be a very versatile vehicle and  could come with no box, as a van, PTO’s front and rear, as fire trucks, military vehicles or whatever. This was the first pickup sized cabover design and even though they stopped production in 1964 other automakers proceeded to come up with their own cabover pickups and vans.

willys fc150Willys FC150 (Photo courtesy Tom Berg)

My new Willys FC 150 is in pretty good condition and I think I could actually haul something in it without worrying about little sctatches and dings. It now has a Buick V-6 for power (the same engine I have in my 1970 Jeepster Commando) giving it 135 horsepower instead of the little 4 banger with 75 horsepower. It has  a four speed and overdrive.

Since the four wheel drive has a high and low range I actually have 16 forward gears and no, I haven’t tried them all yet. I also have a PTO powered winch in front that I haven't tried yet. My truck has no heater but since the engine is literally in the cab I don't think it’s going to get too cold to drive around in the winter.

Now, as fortune would have it I had quit looking for the traditional Willys pickup since I now had bought the FC and I found one anyway in Olympia. I couldn’t resist buying it so now I have one more vehicle than I have room for. It’s in the rain for now, I’ll find out if it leaks.

Alas, I need to build one more shelter or sell a vehicle.  I don’t really want to build more shelters but I’m not to excited about selling anything either so stay tuned for further Classic Car adventures.

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