After Land Rover ceased production of the military only 101 Forward Control, S.M.C. Engineering of Bristol saw an opportunity to develop a successor, but a succes it was not.
“We are an old Established Company Specializing in the building of low volume purpose built vehicles,” wrote S.M.C. Engineering (Bristol) Ltd. managing director Peter Jones in a letter accompanying the 1982 press pack for their new Forward Control Land Rover. “You may recall that the original Land Rover Forward Control was a well loved version, particularly after production ceased,” he continues. “Production of a Forward Control has started again, in both 4×4 and 6×6 Configuration here at S.M.C. This is an Exciting New Vehicle and I do hope It will be of interest to you.”
Nearly forty years later, the The FC82 (and armoured FC83) still excites, and interests, since very little is known of this conversion. It was based on a Land Rover Series 3 109 V8 ‘Stage One’, but on the outside they only share the front grill, ‘Land-Rover’ badge, headlight surrounds and doortops.
Curiously, the one piece frontscreen looks like it came from the then not yet announced ‘New Land Rover One Ten’, a model that superceded the split-screened 109 V8 the FC82 was based on and which was available from 1983 onwards. Being a ‘Land-Rover approved conversion’, SMC probably had very early acces to the 110 parts bin.
The bulkhead looks Series 3, but must have been greatly modified to fit the V8 engine slightly backwards. As for cooling that engine, the grill panel only has a hole for the bonnet catch lock, so the radiator problably received fresh air from under the front bumper.
The conversion to FC82 was quite an investment in 1982, evidenced by the pricelists below, but a quick Google search shows at least a handful of cars must have been ordered since there are a few survivors out there. Unfortunately, it was not as succesful as the Forward Control models that paved the way for its incarnation, as no army ordered them by the dozens, let alone thousands, like the Land Rover 101.
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As SMC Engineering converted quite a few Range Rovers to 6×6 vehicles for wealthy clients in the Middle East, it would be logical to assume some FC82’s went there as well. I would like to hear from any FC82 owners and enthusiasts who can add info to this post. The ‘Old and Established’ S.M.C. Engineering sadly liquidated in 2014.
A few years after the FC82 was introduced, Land Rover themselves developed a follow-up to the 101 Forward Control for military clients, called the Llama. Twelve cars were built, based on a Land Rover 110, but a much needed order by the MoD never came. Instead, the British Army overhauled their existing fleet of 101 FC’s. By the time these were phased out, Land Rover was a maker of luxurious cars and a Defender. Today it only builds SUV’s, so their will never be a new Land Rover based Forward Control.
The original sales leaflets for the FC82 4×4, FC82 6×6 and FC83 Armoured: