Corvette Engine Swap: 1957 Jeep FC170

When it comes to taking vehicles that most enthusiasts prefer to keep original and going way off the reservation in terms of modifications, it’s a calculated risk in terms of how the next owner will respond. Modify it one way, and no one wants to pay you for the work you’ve put into it. Modify it another way, and purists will consider it too big of a leap away from what the factory intended. But if you’re addressing real shortcomings, like lack of horsepower, it’s hard to deny that the modifications yield very real improvements, such as the case of this 1957 Jeep FC170 listed here on eBay with a built 327 V8 from a 1968 Corvette.

The seller had ambitious plans when he found this rust-free Jeep with no drivetrain installed. Recognizing that its inherent charm notwithstanding, the Jeep – like so many other four wheel drives from this era – was severely lacking in the horsepower department. As someone who has gotten into vintage four wheel drives from the 1980s in recent years, it’s somewhat shocking that the trend of sticking anemic powerplants in vehicles that weighed a lot before you added four wheel drive components into the mix continued well into the early 90s. That’s not a problem any longer, as the seller reports the Jeep is now rear wheel drive and makes about 400 b.h.p.

The list of modifications, as you might expect, is quite lengthy: TH400 transmission with a shift kit, and only 500 miles since full rebuild; B&M Z-Gate shifter; Dana 70-2U rear end; steering dampers added to the front for stability; custom driveshaft; custom lift kit; power steering conversion; all new steering column, wheel, joints; conversion to dual master brake cylinder with proportioning valve; front disc brake conversion; new fuel system, including aluminum 20 gallon tank, electric pump, and more; brand new cooling system; new seats; new exhaust, and more. Obviously, when you factor in the loads of custom fab work required, the total investment goes well beyond the cost of parts.

In fact, the seller claims he’s got about $30,000 into the Jeep at this point, but admits he just doesn’t use it like he intended to. The Jeep retains its nine-foot bed, so it’s still quite practical, with the added bonus of a drivetrain that should be plenty reliable and cheap to maintain. The best part is, if this FC170 isn’t your bag, there’s plenty of stock, restored models to choose from, so this one stands out as a viable alternative if you’ve always wanted one but were put off by the lack of performance. Bidding is over $12,000 at the moment with no reserve, so it’s going home with somebody who isn’t afraid to color outside the lines. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Larry D. for the find.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    A unique RWD only pickup. The owner writes as though he has thought of it all in increasing the ability of this old truck to handle the increase from 75-115 HP to 400 HP but no mention of frame strengthening. He’s done an interesting update, a period pseudo Retrorod, but all that horsepower (torque?) with a 6” raised suspension ad all the weight up front might make for interesting handling characteristics for a pickup truck. I’m not well enough versed in suspension mods to know if it’s one most folk would feel comfortable driving especially in light of the drivers position sitting as a COE but IMO it might take some getting used to..

    Personally I like it but I’d prefer it to be 4WD capable-I know, nitpicky but then again I’d sure as heck park it in my driveway!

    Like 13
  2. Lyman

    These also came in a super rare 4 door model, with a shorter bed of course. Driving a COE takes some getting used to, as you are sitting right over the front Tire’s, I had an older mid engine econoline van with leaf springs front and rear with the anemic 170 straight 6 motor, and it always smelled of gasoline inside the cab. Also note that these older FC {forward control} were rust buckets at the rockers and the bottom of the doors, this is one of the better looking body’s I’ve seen, I say the next owner box the frame, drop a Dana 60 under the front leaf springs, and an Atlas 2 transfer case behind the transmission, it’s what I would do, what about you?

    Like 15
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Lyman, THAT would make this a great FWD!

      Like 1
  3. PaulG

    I once owned an FC-170 that was almost amusement park ride as far as handling it was hang on for dear life!
    My what fun off road, especially downhill… Years later I built a very capable Mitsubishi Montero for rock crawling and wished I’d done the same with the FC. I’d like another some day, not this particular one.

    Like 8
  4. Howard A Member

    While this is really cool, an FC was never a consideration in my ongoing “Jeep quest”, not that there are any FC’s out here anyway. Jeff mentions the vehicle itself, but not much on FC’s, if I may. Forward Control Jeeps were the brainchild of Brooks Stevens, who modeled them after the up and coming cabover semi trucks of the 50’s. A corny thing, if you’ve ever driven a cabover anything, as mentioned, driving one takes some extra skill. The advantage here was, it’s tight turning radius, which made them perfect for snowplowing. I remember, as a kid, parks had these for ice rinks and such. Naturally, they were serious rusters, and cabs literally fell off, and the guts made it into CJ’s.
    I’m not sure what the builder wanted here for $30g’s. Jeep did have a V8 concept FC170, in 1958 with a 272 Ford Y block and automatic, but never made it to production, for good reason. While the frame is certainly strong enough, just the design prohibits safety at anything above 30 mph, I couldn’t imagine one at freeway speeds, it just wasn’t designed for that. If this thing hooks up, it might pull a wheelie, a stoppie, for sure. Amazes me what some folks do with their money.

    Like 8
  5. Dave

    “…admits he just doesn’t use it like he intended to.”

    I shudder to think! The image that came to my mind was that of the captain of the Axiom in WALL-E when the ship did a hyperspace jump.

    Like 1
  6. That AMC guy

    With such an extreme forward weight bias it’s hard to see how those rear wheels are going to deliver 400hp to the pavement!

    Like 6
  7. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’m certainly no expert here, but my first thought on this is similar to others— seems like a recipe for disaster. What happens when you put a GM small block into everything, even when it is a bad idea.

    Howard is right, it seems these were designed to haul small loads at low speeds, not to travel on the highway, especially at today’s highway speeds.

    The ma-and-pa oil company my dad worked for had one for a while, it was the only four-wheel-drive in the fleet. Looked cool and unique, but it was always broken down, and I suspect the owner got tired of fixing it and sold it. Granted, oil field duty = abuse.

    Like 3
  8. Steve Clinton

    Bid to $12,700 with 6 days left! That engine is overkill IMHO.
    You don’t see many of these still around, because there never were too many, to begin with.

  9. Charles Sawka

    I drove an original one. Scared me to death. Handling on these things is dicey at best, adding all that power is gonna help ? Hmmmmmmm.

  10. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    I like these. I’d be afraid to drive it over 65mph too and I wish it was 4WD but thr tire smoking fun factor helps too if I don’t spit out the driveshaft…

  11. Mark

    400 horsepower from a 327? Unless it is high compression with aluminum heads, a good cam and aluminum intake I doubt it

    Like 1
  12. Slim

    i wanna see how much hate i get for saying this but I’d stretch the front of the frame and put an actual jeep cab on it

  13. Hall-z Member

    There is a part of me that is afraid just looking at this, but then there is that other part(my inner 12-year-old) that just grins at the thought of doing an endo(or stoppage) in a truck.

  14. hatofpork

    I love this thing. It could make me take up smoking again. Luckies. Unfiltered..

    Like 2
  15. Dusty Rhodes

    videos please

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