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The IIa FC Prototypes

The Land-Rover Series II/IIa 109 inch did not have enough load capacity to satisfy some customers, so Rover developed a Forward Control (FC), or cab-over-engine, design for this market.

Developed at around the same time as Carmichael was building the FT/6 conversions, the factory vehicle differed from the FT/6 in that it sought to increase the gross vehicle weight, rather than simply provide more space on the same chassis.

IIa FC prototype 1

IIa FC prototype 1

IIa FC prototype 2

IIa FC prototype 2

The first prototype appeared around 1958. The front dumb irons on the chassis were extended to support the ‘cab’ structure, and the bulkhead was mounted approximately where the front bumper would have been on a standard Land-Rover. There was a flat floor in the cab, and a standard seat box grafted onto it.  Prototype number one was later photographed with a tray back rear body, and a different cab arrangement, although it is also possible that this vehicle was yet another prototype, as opposed to the same vehicle.

Prototype number 2, shown above, was closer to the final production item, though items of note include the standard doors rather than production items which had the cut-outs for the wheel arches, the 7.50x16 tyres on 5 ½ inch rims (as opposed to the wider offset 6 ½ inch production items) and the length of the rear section of the cab.

The IIa FC

The production IIA forward control Land-Rover became available to the public in 1962. It contains a modified Series IIa 109 inch chassis and 2.25 litre engine hidden under the truck style bodywork. A new sub-frame is bolted to the front of the chassis to carry the cab. The cab itself contains new panels but makes considerable use of standard Series IIa items. Rover saw this as a positive selling point for existing large volume customers.

The radiator is moved forwards and the fan is driven by its own mini prop-shaft complete with two universal joints. Most forward controls came with a drop-side tray fitted to the rear. This is supported by a sub-frame of U-channel girders and uprights fixed to the Land-Rover chassis. The arrangement is very strong but also heavy. The engine is accessible via a cover which intrudes into the rear tray by a small amount. The load area is large enough to carry an 80 inch Series I. Standard tyre size is 9.00x16.

The vehicle was also available as a cab/chassis without the rear sub-frame or tray. In this form it was popular for camper-conversions, fire appliances and other special projects. Quite a few forward controls were fitted with a centrally mounted power take-off driven winch. This is a very sensible position for a winch as the weight is between the axles and the winch rope can be run out either forwards or backwards through pulleys and fairleads. Inside, the cab is almost all standard Land-Rover Series IIa. Most FC's were fitted with the short pick-up style cab. Due to the extra linkages, forward control steering can be a bit vague. The tray-bodied vehicle is also nose-heavy and can be a bit un-nerving when using the brakes hard, particularly down-hill, unless there is a bit of a load in the back. The vehicle was also under-powered, as it was offered only with the 2.25 litre 4 cylinder petrol or diesel engines. The top speed of a diesel powered IIa FC is around 40 mph. The total production run of the IIa FC is thought to have been around 3193.

IIb and IIa FC

A IIb fc (left) and a IIa fc (right) for comparison

The Redwing FT/7 Fire engine conversion

Specialist conversion manufacturer Carmichael produced their 'Redwing FT/7' fire engine, based on the IIa forward control model (click on the picture to view the brochure (pdf)).

Carmichael Redwing FT/7

PDF Brochure Download: Redwing FC (site login required)



The Series IIb

Because of the problems with brakes, engine power and such, an improved Series IIb Forward Control was released in 1966. It was offered with the larger 2.6 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine as an option. The most obvious external change was the moving of the headlights to a lower position and the sidelights to a higher position on the front panel. The wheelbase grew to 110 inches as the axles were moved slightly on the springs. New axles with a wider track and heavy-duty ENV differentials were fitted. However there were simply too many compromises in the Series IIa/IIb forward control and it was never a great success. Most were used as work trucks - they worked hard and suffered accordingly. Consequently these FC's are now quite rare, straight and complete ones especially so. The total production run of the IIb FC is thought to have been around 2305. IIb production ended in 1972, just in time to make space for the 101 FC to be produced.

Land Rover IIb FC Number 1
Land Rover IIb FC Number 1.

IIb FC number 1 has the much less powerful 2.25 diesel engine fitted. The load capacity was 30cwt, and top speed around 40mph.

Aaron Main's FC
Aaron Main's FC
Series IIb FC - Pictures © Aaron Main.

Club Link: Land-Rover Forward Controls

Website Link: Liams Fire Engine Page

If you can help out with more information about the FC vehicle types mentioned here, or maybe pics of your FC, please do so. You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Land Rover IIa / IIb FC pictures

IIb FC crewcab
IIb FC crewcab.

IIb FC crewcab
IIb FC crewcab. Pic by Trey Crowther.

IIa FC campervan
IIa FC campervan.

Gert Benedetti's FC
Gert Benedetti's FC.

IIb forward control - Driffield 2008
IIb forward control - Driffield 2008.