I recently took a daytrip, just North of Atlanta to connect with Alan and his fantastic ’57 Willys Forward Control pickup truck. Having noticed the FC trucks in some of the Jeep materials I have around the home and office, my daughter Olivia was insistent that anytime I can spend some time with one of the FCs, she wanted to tag along!
As we pulled up to the scene, she recognized the truck immediately, and I could tell she was excited before we ever got out of our Jeep to make formal introductions. Alan greeted us promptly and then began to show us around. As we approached the FC, I was curious about its history.
“So, this is probably my fifth or sixth FC,” Alan casually told me, “I found this one on a Facebook page for the Jeep FCs, and it belonged to a family in Independence, Missouri. The father had passed away three years prior, and they were just now getting ready to settle the estate. The Jeep had been restored in 1984 and he only put 47 miles on it. It got parked in his garage and just was sitting there all that time. So, I bought it from them, and I took it all apart and repainted it and put upholstery in it and refinished the deck… I even raised the deck up a few inches to make it look right for me. It was basically a frame-on restoration, because it had already been mechanically restored in 1984 and was in good condition. The family’s children had named it ‘Worm’ back in ’84 and I told them I would keep the name.”
The Jeep was amazing. As we walked around it, I could tell that Alan had taken time and care in making sure his portion of the restoration was very clean and presentable. It looked immaculate. He began to tell me more about what all had been done to bring it glory.
“This color is a Sinclair dinosaur green that I saw on another FC tow-truck and I liked the color. When I got the Jeep… the color that it was, was kind of a safety green like you see on workers and equipment along the side of the interstate; it wasn’t really a natural color for it. It was more of a neon tinge, so we took and painted it this color. We took it down to bare metal and then painted it, and I made special interior compartments. I built them so you could have storage on both sides.”
This Forward Control did, indeed, look like the 50s. It was the echo of a bygone era. Everything about this restoration looked to me as though it would have fit in with the time. The colors, the clean lines, and of particular note, the unique fuel tanks.
“There are two fuel tanks on here. I think they are about 20 gallons each. They are old beer kegs and there is a valve. Each of them has a sending unit that has been welded in; a plate has been welded in to have a sending unit, so they both have a sending unit and a switch to switch the gas gauge... and there is a valve here next to the driver’s seat so you can switch from one side to the other and both tanks are operational.”
“About the bed? This is yellow pine which, over time, is not really a hard wood. This pine was petrified, so it was very, very hard. The 1984 wood was real dark from sitting so long, so I took it all apart and ran it through a planer. The bed is tongue and grooved yellow pine, and I planed it along with the grooves. I put all new bolts in them and stainless bolts along the sides; but this is what the original owner did. He fabricated this bed. This is not a factory bed. This gentleman that restored the FC in 1984 was a heating and air-duct fabricator, and he fabricated this in his metal shop.”
“I added a six inch piece of tubing here to raise it up. The other thing that is interesting about this truck is in the ’57, the first year that they made these they didn’t have a tongue or weight on the back and so they were real prone to falling over on their nose during hard braking going downhill. As a remedy, this gentleman actually took a piece of 3.5 inch solid steel and cut it in the shape of this triangle and he put it in the frame. The normal one was a big casting that went all the way across the back that Jeep started putting on as a recall and in ’58 and from then on, they put them on as standard from the factory. It was a 375 pound cast iron weight."
The entire experience of investigating this classic Jeep and learning of its history was captivating, not only for me, but also for my small partner. She even got to hop in and go for a ride in the truck. We stayed there for quite a while, enjoying the hospitality and discussing Jeeps. I think a new love was sparked that day. A love for the classics!
*(Huge thanks to the Rose family for the amazing hospitality and letting us share the story of this awesome Jeep)*
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