It doesn’t get much cooler than this. Not only did I get to examine Jeep’s Mighty FC Concept up close during my Moab trip, I got to drive it. My own photos don’t do it justice, but it just so happened that Jeep had their own photographer on hand to capture the insanity of this hand-built rig.
The Mighty FC is a retro remake of the forward control Jeeps sold from the late 1950s through the early 60s, and it is probably the most wonderfully ludicrous vehicle I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s got stance, it’s got attitude and even the simplest off-road maneuvers had me grinning ear to ear.
It’s the extreme forward seating position (and the altitude) that does it. The road ahead simply disappears when cresting a hill, which is weird in a nervous laughter sort of way. But the real humor kicks in when a steep descent transitions abruptly back to flat because the view out the windscreen is nothing but looming slickrock. At the same moment the brake pedal’s plcement just behind the bumper gives off a pure Fred Flintstone vibe; it feels like your feet might actually touch down.
It’s all an illusion, of course, brought on by a different driver’s seat perspective. In reality the FC’s tall tires, mondo clearance and granny gearing make it pretty much unstoppable.
You’d never know by looking at it, but the Mighty FC started out life as a 2-door Wrangler Rubicon with a 95.4-inch wheelbase. The first order of business was to lengthen the front half of the frame by about 21.5 inches to move the front axle forward and put the engine below and partially behind the cab.
The FC’s cab contains recognizable carry-over elements, such as the windshield, A-pillars and doors. The roof and rear cab section come straight from Mopar’s JK8 pickup conversion kit. And we’ve seen those fender flares before. But the nose and bed are clean sheet designs made to look like the forward control Jeeps sold in the late 50s and early 60s.
Jeep staffers have been talking about doing something like this for years, but they only recently got the go-ahead. And by “recently” I mean a couple of months ago. From green light to completion, the FC took just 8 weeks to design and build. They tell me it hadn’t turned a wheel off-road until it was unloaded in Moab.
The FC rides on 39.5-inch tires and 8-lug rims. But check out that insane ground clearance. You can barely see any axles or undercarraige.
So-called portal axles are the key. Portal axles use gears contained in each wheel hub to offset the main axle tube above the wheel centers. I don’t have the exact offset dimension handy, but it’s easily 5 or 6 inches. What’s more, the gears that do the offsetting are also configured to supply further reduction.
Here the hub reduction ratio is 1.5-to-1. Multiply that by the 4.56-to-1 gears found in the differentials and you get an incredible 6.84-to-1 overall final drive ratio. The portal hubs take up so much space that two smaller brake calipers must be used instead of one larger one.
These portal axles are what makes the Mighty FC more than a mere design exercise because you can buy them from Mopar. But you’d better be hard core (and well off) because the front one goes for $ 12,500 and the rear one costs $ 11,000.
Massive King coil-over shocks replace the separate spring-next-to-shock setup found on the four corners of a garden-variety Jeep Wrangler.
The FC’s bed has the sort of fold-down sides and back that are commonplace everywhere in the world but here. It’s not quite deep enough to be truly functional, though. The Pentastar V6 engine lurks beneath the box behind the cab.
Apart from the custom Katzkin leather (and plaid!) seats, you’re looking at standard Wrangler interior bits and pieces. But the dash has been moved aft a fair amount, and it’s anyone’s guess where the new floor and pedals are situated relative to stock. All I know is there’s no room to operate a clutch under there. Good thing the Mighty FC is an automatic.
While it’s a tight fit for someone as tall as me, the look and feel FC’s interior comes across as a well-finished place to sit.
It was a very good day.
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