Forward Control IIA and IIB Land Rovers

Forward Control IIA with soft top, (c) Lloyd Allison

Demand for a robust load-carrying Land Rover grew during the 1950s, and was answered in 1962 with the launch of the Series IIA Forward Control vehicle. This distinctive vehicle was based on the Series II 109" chassis but had the cab positioned over the engine, resulting in a greatly increased load space. A new rear sub-frame was attached to the 109" chassis to produce a flat load space. The result was a vehicle rated at carrying 30 cwt on the road, and 25 cwt cross-country.

The IIA Forward Control was also fitted with heavy duty axles and larger tyres, helping to increase the ground clearance. The only body style produced was that of a pick-up. The only seating was in the cab, which could be open or closed. The cab was carried on a front sub-frame that was bolted onto the chassis. Overall, the IIA design proved economical and required only a few new parts.

The front and rear sub-frame design was chosen for economic reasons, but it resulted in a much heavier vehicle. Considering that the Series II's 2.286l petrol engine was retained, the result was a very underpowered vehicle. This was partly addressed in 1966 with the advent of the Series IIB Forward Control. This added the 2.286l diesel engine and 2.6l 6-cylinder petrol engine as options. The 6-cylinder petrol engine was adapted from the Rover P4 and P5 cars, and was already noted for its reliability. In order to improve the IIA's stability, the wheelbase was lengthened by one inch, and the wheel tracks widened by four inches. The head lamps were also lowered, and the side lights moved to a higher position.

The compromised IIA and IIB Forward Controls were never a success. Production ceased in the early 1970s, to be replaced by the more sophisticated 101" Forward Control although this was never sold to the civilian market. Most of the IIAs and IIBs were sold as work trucks, and were generally worked hard. This hard work combined with relatively low production numbers, means that few IIA and IIB Forward Controls survive. Many of the survivors are conversions (e.g.. camper vans and fire engines) that led a less strenuous life.

Acknowledgements and Image Copyright

Forward Control 2A photograph: © Lloyd Allison.