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About Tough to crack puzzle #168: Jeep FC-150 Commuter

About Tough to crack puzzle #168: Jeep FC-150 Commuter
We received a record number of answers to last week’s car puzzle. And all of you identified the car as the Jeep FC-150 (Forward Control) Mini-Van, designed by Brooks Stevens and built by Reutter. Well, a few of you named it the Willys FC-150 Van, like Steve Bousfield, who added: “Carrying Jeep branding it was intended to be an additional model in their FC or forward control range.” Very well. We stick to the Jeep-designation never the less. Most of you also mentioned that it was just one of three prototypes made, with the FC-model being launched in 1956 with 4, 6 or 8 cylinder engine and, as Ace Zenek mentioned: “A four door crew cab (M677) and an ambulance (M679) were also available.” Fritz Hegeman: “They ranged from simple flatbeds to towing vehicles, tippers and fire engines. It was no economical success, so production stopped after about 30.000 cars.”

While Ace also noted that the three cars were built in Spain and Sweden (we don’t know), there were just three of you, however, who gave this particular FC-model it’s correct model name: ‘Commuter’. Some of you were sure of the wheelbase it used, others weren’t. Kevin Atkinson: “They were based on the existing CJ-5chassis, powered by the Hurricane 4-cylinder engines. Initally with an 81” wheelbase but the later prototype was extended to 83.5”. We liked Alboino L. Deulus’ answer, checking on the possibilities: “Given this is a '58, it probably would have been built on the 83.5 in. wheelbase, and a 58 inch track. Transmission would probably have been a T-98 4 speed.” That’s the way to do it.

Now, over to the fun facts. Alan Spencer: “With the front and rear (third row) doors being interchangeable , as were the left and right middle doors, they were designed with production cost-saving in mind, but they featured bold two-tone paint schemes typical of Stevens, as used on his 1956 Gaylord Gladiator and his 1959 Scimitar.” Ted Wilmarth: “The commuter prototype design started in 1956 and carried 1956 Michigan license plate GK-2180. It also appears from period photographs that perhaps they used a 1956 GMC Panel Truck as inspiration. By 1958, two prototypes were built that carried different features such as taillights, side trim, tailgate, head rests, etc.” ‘Vintage’ answer was the one we liked most, adding: “Stevens was famous for designing the 1949 Hydra Glide and his pièce de résistance - the wide mouth peanut butter jar, it infuriated him not being able to get all the peanut butter out of the jar. Also noteworthy perhaps is that he is considered part of what we now call the light bulb conspiracy or planned obsolescence, which he defined as ‘instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.’” Unfortunately it made his answer way too long…

And so… Luc Ryckaert wins, adding a little bit of mystery and intrigue. His full answer: “1958 Willys Jeep FC (Forward Control)-150 Commuter. Designed by Brook Stevens, and built by Reutter in Stuttgart. Rarest of all Willys prototypes produced but never put into production. With the breakup of Willys Motors in the early 1960's, much of the FC history was lost, and to this day the whereabouts of the prototypes have never been found. Rumours of one residing on Henry Kaiser Island could not be confirmed. In fact, the production of this car came too early, it was some years later when the Van craze was about to explode in the US.”

Congratulations Luc. You are the winner of the first quiz in the new format and therefore take the number one position!

1. Luc Ryckaert: 5 points
2. Ted Wilmarth - 1 point
3. Alan Spencer - 1 point
4. Vintage - 1 point

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