Forward-control trucks moved the passenger compartment as far forward as possible, adding more utility space within the same wheelbase and overall length. This design would likely never pass modern crash tests, so fans of the style have to look to the past to get their fix. In terms of style and function, the 1960s was primetime for forward-control trucks, so here are four of the best from that decade ranked from cool to coolest.
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I like the big truck version of this look. Things like the Ford C series, even the GM "New Look" buses and such.
Not sure if the big ones would pass the modern safety stuff either...
After logging 8-10k miles in the Greenbrier I owned, I don't think there is any way to make any vehicle where your feet are within 8-10 inches of the front bumper pass any safety test. That Greenbrier is fairly light, so putting even more weight behind the passengers is terrifying in my mind.
I always liked the look of the C cab too and remember the first ones in 1957. From 1971 to early 1974 I frequently drove a 1971 C800 refueling truck equipped with the 391 gasoline truck engine coupled to an Allison MT40 transmission with retarder. I thought the tilt cab made it pretty easy to service. The shift linkage on the ones with a standard transmission was a bit complicated but worked good when properly adjusted and lubed. While important to keep the clutch adjusted, also check the clutch pedal adjustment as well keeping about 1/4" play before the rod contacts the piston in the master cylinder. I've seen some C series restored in various configurations and if I can find one at the right price I might eventually have one of my own.
Being a Jeep fan I have to say the Willy’s version was far ahead of the others and much more versatile. The FC was able to carry twice its own weight, or more. It is impressive a vehicle weighing around 2500 pounds could carry another 2500 pounds. In addition, Willy’s had the foresight to design different size models. The Willy’s FC’s were used as tow trucks amongst other things. They even built a four door model for the military. How cool is to have an FC that is so versatile and four wheel drive. In my opinion, it doesn’t get any cooler than that.
I'm totally a Ford guy, but .... okay, Chevy wins this one!
I've only owned one of these ... bought a 10 year old Econoline for $500 just to use to move once ... cleaned and polished it up and sold 2 months later for $800 🙂
I think you got it right. Of course I owned a rampy and I loved it. First car was a Corvair and I still own several. I also manufacture tools and parts to support the Corvair community. Facebook. Blue Chip Tools
It's funny how a picture can cause a massive memory recall. The Ford Econoline picture immediately brought up memories of ride in one of these beasts when I was about 14. My first memory is the peculiar smell this truck had. A combination of leaky exhaust and oil mixed with spilled wine and probably urine made it a smell to remember. The reason I have such a strong memory of this truck is that the driver, Jamie, a sort of friend of my mother's, drove the truck off the road and crashed into a string of fence posts. The truck naturally didn't have seat belts, so my brother and myself were thrown around the interior and banged up quite a bit but nothing more than scrapes and bruises. Jamie, who was pretty smashed mentally on God knows what, walked away without so much as a scratch. The truck, looking pretty bad with fence posts embedded into the body work, still moved and he drove us home, fence posts and all. Last time we ever rode with Jamie, and my mother banned him from ever coming to our house again. A week later, he smashed up his father's fancy Dodge Challenger into another string of fence posts. What a loser.
Good article!! The Jeep FC-170 was also popular as a small chassis fire truck and was used in that role by several manufacturers. They were used for general roles such as brush fire trucks or mini-attack rigs but they were also used in specialized roles such as carrying a large volume deck gun (water cannon) in cities that worked as a stable base for delivery of over 4 tons of water per minute. Like the rest of the FC's the fire trucks are avidly collected.
I'll take the Volkswagen Type 2. The Germans got it right & did it better. The fold down sides make for easy loading. The engine & drive train are proven factors. Maintenance costs on this vehicle, by comparison, are extremely low. Jawohl!!
Safety issues aside, I still think it's a great idea. I borrowed a Dodge A100 for a week or two, I think it was a 6 cylinder with an automatic on the Dashboard,
loved it. In the end, the rear engine designs are the best.
I love your comparisons and I would tend to agree with your assessments. However, in hindsight, I favor the Volkswagen, but for one simple reason. Volkswagens were a popular platform for the all so famous dune buggies. Now for a curve ball, take the Transporter, loose the side rails, chop 18 inches out of the length, add a tower with a floor six feet off of the elevated portion of the bed, and a 36" tall box at the top, totally enclosed on the sides, except for a ladder entrance on the cab side, cut a step through door from the cab to the base of the ladder, you have one heck of a mobile deer stand capable of handling terrain that most 4 wheel drives could not especially with a hunting platform mounted on the back. With over size rear wheels from a Chevy station wagon thanks to adapter plates and very wide treads you could run low pressure (9 lbs) which added traction and eliminated concerns about flats. Add a skid plate to protect the engine and transaxle and a very rigid oak true rough cut 2x4 front bumper with the ends reinforce with bracing back to the frame, you could take out most small trees and brush that might have other wise bent the front end mounts. It became almost indestructible. and endured many a hunting trips in the rough Sonora deserts of South Texas. Cactus and small mesquite up to around 4 inches did not phase it. if it didn't break them off it went over the with out slowing down. It could climb the side of hill covered in loose shale rock that Jeeps and even an old International Scout could not climb, because of the low traction on those surfaces. With the short wheel base it could handle ravines with ease and it never became stuck. Ran it for 8 years and loved every minute of it. Of course, after flippig it on it's side three times ( but easy to set it back up ) and all the rugged landscape, it was not a thing of beauty. Finally sold it to another hunter after replacing the engine 3 times. Fuel pumps would not last long and they were being made in Mexico in the later years and they did not hold up like the original German made. It was quite the utility hunting vehicle. Even had a boom that would extend out to hoist the deer for cleaning. Lots of fond memories, not of just the hunting from that blind but tearing up the landscape with that beast.
When I was a little kid, my uncle had one of those Jeeps. To him, it was a fun toy. We were at an aunt's rural home for a family gathering, and he was showing off his Jeep's ability to travel rough terrain. I begged him to let me ride along. He bopped along through the fields with ease, then decided to really show off. He headed for the farm pond! I freaked out, sure that I was about to drown. He had exhaust stacks on the sides, and back then, I didn't understand why those were important. By God, he drove right down into the pond, across, and up the other side. We were going uphill, so his wheels spun a little as we exited the pond, but right there and then, I fell in love with that ugly little truck!
A friend's dad had a E100 when we were in highschool. Drove it up the street and back. Turning around was difficult for my 16 yr old brain. Years later a coworker had a Rampside that was shortened, the ramp was removed, making it about 3 feet shorter. Also had 4 carbs, a cam and headers. I drove it once. Squirrelist vehicle I ever drove. Too short, too much power and the front-end was too light.
I learned to drive in my father's type 2 truck (certainly not enough power to get in trouble). My grandfather also had one. He would smuggle liquor from NH to NJ to sell at a good profit. The local liquor store personnel knew him by name and would be ready to load up the entire under bed storage area with hard stuff when he arrived.
Japanese trucks offer the same versatility in 3-cylinder models with drop-down sides. 25-yr old ones are imported to the USA and can be had for $6-9k.
My somewhat hazy recollection is that the ramp on the Corvair was actually an option. And having owned an Econoline van I can testify that dragging a water hose across the your lap to fill the radiator was not pleasant, nor was checking the oil. And a special thrill insued when the engine caught fire at 65 mph.
For many years I owned the ultra-rare 4-door cab version of Jeep’s FC170. Originally built for military use in 1964, it was quite beefy in terms of axles and suspension and had a diesel engine rather than gas.
Because it was so nose-heavy I regularly carried several bags of concrete mix in the back of the bed to help out the weight distribution.
Just sold my second Dodge A100 p/u - both 318's with the last one swapped to a 360 with all the goodies. Have had Ford and VW vans for comparison but still prefer V8 power.
A 91' VW Doka with a Subaru swap would be fun.
I had one of the 64 Dodge vans I bought with well > 100K on it, drove it for another 75K till it used so much oil I'd have to check the oil every time I filled the gas tank !!! Rebuild time.
I rebuilt the motor right in place with old fashion drill powered reams/ cutters and hones, did all the bearings and seals and sent the head out ,,,,,,,,another 200K later and customizing it inside early 70's style, I sold it to a friend who drove it for another 8-10 years at least . What's left of it is now sitting out on the side of a old falling down barn.
I kinda have to smile a little bit when I drive by it and remembering the Hell Raising that went on in that thing,,,,,
If that old girl could talk,,,Oh the stories she could tell OMG !!!
But COME ON,,,,IT WAS THE EARLY &70'S AFTER ALL <<<<LOL
PS No it didn't have shag carpet! But it had everything else.
These trucks scare me. Years ago I hit a 1985 Toyota Minivan head on with my 76 F150. I don't know what the impact speed was but I was doing about 30mph before slamming on my brakes and almost killed the driver because of no front end protection. One lady who saw the van the next day thought it had been hit by a train. These 60s cab forward pickups and vans have no crush zone so be extremely wary and careful if you have one.
I worked with a guy in the late '70s that had a navy blue Ford he referred to as the "EconoPig". It was a challenge for it to negotiate Antrim County's hills on his way to work. Another co-worker bought a non-running Greenbriar about 1979. I towed it for him about 30 miles with my '57 Willys CJ. We were quite a sight going down the highway. It got a little interesting a couple of time since the Chevy weighed so much more than the Jeep. The good old days!
I really think we're ripe for a return of something similar. One of the small front wheel drive SUVs, like the Ford Escape, would make a nice little "trash hauler". Nothing real heavy, and not much for towing, but make the rear rails into the unit body like Jeep did with the XJ Cherokee to make the MJ Comanche, and give it a separate bed. Or the little Transit Connect... call it a "Transit Hauler"!! Would make a good around town delivery vehicle for things that don't fit in or need the enclosed rear. Not quite as short as one of these trucks, but close!
In the 70s/80s, my Dad had a red and later a turquoise Econoline truck- same color as in your pic. Neither had the curved side back windows for some reason. As kids, we would sit on the scorching hot engine with beach towels underneath complaining while my Mom and Dad took us out to cut wood all summer in Michigan. My older brother borrowed the turquoise one in the late 80s, got a little wasted and went off the road, hit the ditch near Beaverton, MI and somehow survived with just a few bruises! We were so sad that the old truck was a goner. Oh and we were glad my brother was ok too, LOL!
I'll have to go with the Type II. I have a '68 single cab as my shop truck. One reason for my bias is the ease and low cost of upgrading the motor. I have a 2200 cc in mine. Makes an easy 125HP. Parts are everywhere for any vintage VW. And cheap. …...Jim.
When I was in the Air Force stationed at Andersen AFB, Guam, the Air Police used Ford Econolines to cruise around the base. They were AF blue with 6 cylinder engines, automatic transmissions with no A/C. I never heard of them getting into a pursuit as a Honda 125cc, which were prevalent on the base could probably out run them.
You missed a small detail...
You stated "The Rampside pickups combine many of the best features of the pickups above, often executed better. A simple air-cooled engine is rear-mounted but gains two additional cylinders and twice the horsepower of the VW" & above that you said the VW had 24HP. (Double would be 48HP) However the first Corvair rampside had 80HP & the later Rampsids had 95HP. Way more power than a VW and the Rampside was made in the U.S.A.
Anyone remember a wheelstanding truck running the drag strip circuit in the late 60's - early 70's. It would put on quite a show, doing a wheeley from the tree to the end of the 1/4 mile strip.