Jeep as a brand is synonymous with off-road prowess and toughness that will keep them going for miles and miles. The image most people conjure up when asked about a Jeep is either a ranger from the last 20 or so years or even the original Willys army Jeep. Almost nobody will think of the odd-duck forward control Jeeps that were produced from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s. These forward control Jeeps have been gaining in popularity over the last few years with some truly insane examples being brought to events around the world, culminating with SEMA and the absolutely bananas DayStar suspension FC Jeep complete with tank tracks!
Before we get too far into the DayStar Jeep, let’s do a little more on the history of the forward control rigs. The FC series of Jeeps were built by Willys and Kaiser Jeep as a more heavy duty, work-capable alternative to some of the vehicles being offered by the competition. The FC was designed by Brooks Stevens and could be had with a number of engine and transmission choices. The initial offering was a 2.2 liter Hurricane F-head engine that produced around 75 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. There was also a straight six Super Hurricane engine available, but it was the Ford Y-Block that topped the range. The FCs were designed with primarily military, municipal and fleet use though many saw civilian use both in the US and abroad. There were two manual transmissions available, a 3 speed and a 4 speed, and one 3 speed auto.
The forward control Jeep range had a total of six models in it over its decade-long production beginning with the 81” wheel base FC-150 and ending with the 150” wheel base FC-190. The FC’s were available with a variety of bed configurations. A pickup box bed was standard, but customers could choose from a large number of "Jeep approved" bed options from outside vendors such as flatbeds, tow trucks, dump trucks and even fire trucks.
The folks at Daystar were looking for something interesting that they could build for SEMA in 2014 that would showcase its exciting suspension products. The trouble with building a vehicle for SEMA is that the standards are so high, and there are so many rigs around, it can be very difficult to stand out. Daystar sought to get around this by starting with an odd platform and that’s how it settled on a 1958 Jeep FC-170. The FC was a good start but it needed real help to truly stand out and that’s how it was decided to give it four tank tracks. Needless to say, this is a one of a kind rig and it caused quite a stir when it was unveiled.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Daystar’s build is that unlike most SEMA builds, they didn’t farm this out to a shop. Instead, the FC-170 was built by Daystar’s employees after hours. We’ve been duly impressed with the work and, once again, it serves to differentiate this from all the other lifted Jeeps.
To give the classic FC-170 modern performance, Daystar first fitted it with a modern -yet still appropriate- 5.7 liter Hemi engine. Keeping that Mopar motor cool is a custom Ron Davis radiator and the engine breathes healthily through a custom MagnaFlow exhaust system as well as an AirAid air filter system. The engine was wired up with the help of a Hot Wire Auto Hemi Hot Rod Harness while Painless Performance took care of the wiring for the rest of the Jeep’s ancillary systems which include KC HiLites headlights and a big Warn M8000 winch.
Next they upgraded the Jeep’s tired old axles with modern aftermarket units from G2 that were originally designed for the modern JK Wrangler. They also fitted them with air lockers from ARB in case the Hemi’s torque and the massive tracks aren’t enough to get it out of trouble. Driveshafts came courtesy of Reel Drivelines.The transfer case is also from a JK, an NV241 to be specific, and the brakes are massive units from Baer while the booster comes from a JK. The FC gets a full complement of poly bushings from Daystar of course and Scorpion shocks. That eye-catching (or eye-watering, maybe) shade of green is a 3-stage paint job in Viper Green by Krusty.
In the end, the build did exactly what the crew at Daystar hoped it would which is knock everyone at SEMA on their butts. The FC has been featured in countless magazines and videos and is still doing the rounds now. We can’t wait to see what the guys at Daystar bring out this year!