This is an original Land Rover 101 Forward Control, also known as the 101FC, a military vehicle that was developed by Land Rover for the British Army to serve as an equivalent to the German Unimog.
The 101 Forward Control was initially designed to tow a field gun, specifically the L118 Light Gun, with a ton of ammunition and other supplies in the rear. It was later turned into a variety of vehicles including ambulances, radio vehicles, electronic warfare platforms, and tow vehicles for Rapier missile systems.
Fast Facts – The Land Rover 101 Forward Control
- The Land Rover 101 Forward Control has been described by some as the “British Unimog” and it’s not hard to see why. Both vehicles have boxy designs with forward cabs, large wheels and tires, and ample payload capacity.
- The 101 Forward Control was developed from lessons learned on the earlier Forward Control IIA and IIB Land Rovers which hadn’t been particularly successful commercially.
- Named for its 101″ wheelbase, the 101 Forward Control had a custom designed chassis fitted with Salisbury axles front and back. Power was provided by the all-alloy Rover V8 and the vehicle had a payload capacity of 1 tonne with a towing capacity of up to 4,000 lbs.
- Land Rover never offered the LC101 to civilian buyers, but after the British Ministry of Defense began selling them off as surplus they began to find their way into private ownership. Today there is a thriving community around the model, with many being turned into a overlandng camper-type vehicles.
The Land Rover 101 Forward Control
The Land Rover 101 Forward Control was a project that rose out of the ashes of the earlier Forward Control IIA and IIB Land Rovers which hadn’t been as successful as the British 4×4 manufacturer had hoped. The 101FC addressed the shortcomings of the earlier designs offering more power, more payload capacity, and more towing capacity.
The design of the 101 Forward Control used a modified steel ladder-type chassis with live Salisbury axles front and rear on heavy duty leaf springs. Power was provided by the 3.5 liter alloy Rover V8 sourced from the Range Rover of the period, and mated to a modified version of the Range Rover LT95 4-speed transmission offering both high and low range.
6.5″16″ steel wheels were fitted and shod with 9.00″×16″ tires front and back. The front wheels have a “Wheel Step,” a flange around the centre of the wheel with an tread pattern for grip – this acts as a two-step circular ladder for people getting in and out of the cab.
The lower body and much of the cab of the 101FC was metal, with the roof being canvas in almost all examples made. Some were later converted to a full metal roof for use in ambulance and radio vehicles roles, and may more have been converted after they left the military and entered civilian ownership.
Production of the 101 Forward Control took place between 1972 and 1978, all went to the military, and many were built in left hand drive for use in NATO countries where the British operate. This had made them popular with some American civilian buyers who convert them into overland campers.
Interestingly, many examples of the 101FC were placed into storage with relatively few miles on the odometer and saw little to no military use. These vehicles were particularly prized by those buying them at military surplus auctions.
Judge Dredd + Civilian Life
The most famous 101 Forward Controls were highly-modified “City CABs” used in the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dredd. Interestingly these vehicles were actually designed in-house by Land Rover specifically for the film, in such a way that the 101 FC rolling chassis could be used.
In the years since production ceased the 101 FC was slowly retired from military service, and many were sold into civilian hands as military surplus.
It would be in civilian ownership that the vehicles would experience an entirely new life, often being modified into off-road campers and then used to explore vast swathes of the planet.
The 1978 Land Rover 101 Forward Control Shown Here
The vehicle you see here is a left hand drive 1978 Land Rover 101 Forward Control that was reportedly assembled in May of 1980 and then used by the UK Ministry of Defense until 1994. It was bought by the current owner, and now seller, in 1999 and then imported into the United States in 2003.
It’s finished in what is described in the listing as bronze green over gray vinyl upholstery, and it’s powered by the correct 3.5 liter Rover V8 paired with a 4-speed manual transmission and a dual-range transfer case.
It also has the green cotton canvas top with roll-up sides, inward-facing rear bench seats, a shovel and pickaxe, front and rear pintle hitches, and mudguards.
It’s being offered for sale out of Yarmouthport, Massachusetts on Bring a Trailer with MoT paperwork and a clean Massachusetts title in the seller’s name. It was also featured in the Summer-Fall 2022 issue of Rovers Magazine. If you’d like to read more about it or place a bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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