The British Motor Museum houses many a special Solihull built vehicle, and some are more special than others, like the signal yellow 1.5 ton 112 inch Forward Control prototype, named ‘Buttercup’. With its Rover Eng Dept lettering and crane in the back it looks like a recovery vehicle, but that is not how it left the factory in the 1965. A bit of background…
Buttercup is now a museum piece and a fan favorite at Land Rover shows after a thorough restoration in 2007 by Land Rover Special Vehicles Operations. Before its retirement it was a recovery truck on the Solihull plant, but it started life as a military prototype for a 112 inch wheelbase, Forward Control 30 CWT (1.5 ton) truck on huge 11.0 x 16 tyres.
1965: under development
One of the earliest ‘public’ mentions of a 112FC is in a sales booklet printed for military customers, simply named Rover & Alvis, military vehicles and equipment. The Rover Company and Alvis combined to a single group in 1965, and the result of the merger was a range of complementing military vehicles on offer by the newly formed company. Land-Rover of course had its 88 and 109 wheelbase models, Alvis produced a six-wheeler platform (FV600) on which the armoured Saracen and Saladin, the Salamander Fire Crash Tender and the amphibious Stalwart were based.
In the Rover & Alvis sales booklet, printed somewhere in late 1965, the 112FC pops up in the chapter Land-Rover military vehicles under development:
‘In order to meet possible 4×4 military vehicle requirements at both the light and heavy ends of its existing range, the Rover Company has under development (but not yet in production) two further vehicles, which at present exist in prototype form only. They are the 88 half-ton payload lightweight and the 112″ wheelbase 2-ton payload 6-cylinder
(…) ‘The 112 (284 cms.) wheelbase 2-ton Land-Rover is a robust cross-country load-carrying vehicle which, owing to its forward control configuration and comparatively short wheel-base, has the lowest possible overall length, thus ensuring maximum manoeuvrability and aiding aircraft and ship loading.
Its main dimensions and weights are as follows:
Length 186 1/2″ (284 cms.)
Width 87 1/4″ (221 cms.)
Overall height–hood (laden) 103 (253 cms.)
Maximum ground clearance 11 3/8″ (29 cms.)’
Still being a prototype, Rover-Alvis decided not to print an image of the 112 wheelbase 2-ton Land-Rover.
Rejected, but not scrapped
More info on the 112FC prototype is provided in the 1983 publication The Fighting Rovers by Leslie Geary, including a very low resolution image of the 112FC, or ‘Truck No. 21’ as it was named by the War Department. The idea of producing a two ton cargo 4×4 must have been dropped during development since Geary claims the 112 is a one and a half ton/30 CWT cargo vehicle with a load platform suitable for carrying a one ton container.
In production a general service or specialist body would be fitted. Alas it never reached production. The prototype was equipped with a Perkins model 6.354, a six cilinder diesel engine with 5.8 litres capacity. Power output was not disclosed, but in other period installments the Perkins diesel was good for 120 bhp. The 112FC was capable of an average maximum speed of 40 MPH on road and 15 MPH off road. Its range of action at average max speed was 420 miles.
Only one prototype of the 112 inch Forward Control was built, and after trials by the War Department it was decided not to continue with a Forward Control model at that time.
The prototype was sent back to Land-Rover, where someone thankfully chose not to scrap it and is was rebuilt as a recovery vehicle. Bronze green was changed for yellow, a crane and winch were fitted and Truck No. 21, or ‘Buttercup’ as it was named, was given a new life. The rest is history.