The unusual looking buggy you see here is historic two for reasons, firstly (the full scale version) was a prototype intended to replace the venerable Jeep, and secondly because the R/C version by Tamiya was the Japanese company’s first off-road buggy.
The reason why the folks at Tamiya choose this prototype as their first off-roader is interesting, and it’s possible that they took a gamble on this being the vehicle that was chosen to replace the Jeep – so they would have the brand new “Jeep” available as an R/C model.
The model is based on the FMC XR311, a prototype military vehicle that entered development in 1969. A number of development models were built and the military are known to have bought at least a dozen of them set up to perform various tasks.
The US military ordered a number of FMC XR311s for testing purposes and they could be configured to fulfill a multitude of roles including anti-tank, reconnaissance patrol, convoy escort, command and control, medivac, military police, mortar carrier, internal security and forward air defense communications vehicle.
Above Video: Footage of the Tamiya FMC XR311 being put through its paces.
The FMC XR311 likely had an influence on both the Lamborghini Cheetah and AM General’s HMMWV – better known as the Humvee and the vehicle that would eventually fill the role.
The XR311 had a rear-engine, four-wheel drive layout with power sent from the Chrysler V8 engine through a 3-speed TorqueFlite A727 automatic transmission and a single-speed full time transfer case.
These vehicles were tested extensively throughout the 1970s and they did look like a likely M151 Jeep replacement – likely enough that Tamiya created their model of it, the development of which likely started in the mid-1970s, before the FMC XR311 project was cancelled.
First released in 1977 the Tamiya FMC XR311 R/C is now largely unknown, and it’s certainly far less famous than the brand’s better-known off-roaders like the Tamiya Hornet. Tamiya recently brought the model back into full production for people who missed out the first time around.
Above Image: An artist’s rendition of the original FMC XR311 vehicle.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.