V8 Coil Sprung Forward Control

The FC82 was a development of the 139” wheelbase Sandringham Six. Built to satisfy the military payload requirement, the vehicle had to be made into a Forward Control configuration to be able to carry a platoon. Back to back seats were fitted facing front and rear and a canvas tilt could be fitted with the tilt frame running down the side of the seats and located in holes in the floor. The floor was aluminium tongued and grooved sections. The rear body was fitted with dropsides and a drop tail. Small lockers were fitted between the rear of the cab and the dropsides, and below the body between the front and rear wheels. The 6X6 used the Sandringham Six’s petrol tank which was specially made to fit above the rear axles and below the body. The 4X4 used the standard Land Rover rear tank. SMC Engineering had heard about the proposed military requirement for a mainly road-going vehicle, with limited off-road capability, at the 1980 British Army Equipment Exhibition. The Sandringham six had been launched in 1979 and was then adapted into the FC82. Its launch was at the 1982 British Army Equipment Exhibition. I have read that it was on static display as well as in the mobility display.

My FC82 was bought as a flatback vehicle but was supposed to have been a fuel bowser. At that time I still hadn’t located SMC Engineering so I thought I would contact past owners to see what light they could shed on the vehicles history. As luck would have it the person who had owned the vehicle originally was very helpful. He had run a business renting out Range rovers to film companies and TV channels for outside broadcasts. He had gone to buy an ex-demo hi-cap pickup for his business but returned with a virtually new FC82 for £2000 less than roughly treated ex-demo hi-caps were selling for.

The FC82 was bought at the auction as a dropside pickup with canvas tilt fitted, so had never been a fuel bowser originally. The new owner kept it for about eight months before selling it to Heathrow Airport. Here it lost its original body and was made into a mobile workshop/bad weather rescue vehicle for all the other airport vehicles. This explained the worklights, extra batteries and “Forth Bridge” built rear tow bar. The rear mounted fuel tank was also replaced with a lorry tank to make way for the tow bar strengthening. It’s said that it was the very first vehicle to be painted in the then new BA livery of dark blue and grey, even the engine box was painted. After seven years at Heathrow it somehow found its way to a farmer on Humberside who fitted the current flatback body for carrying a vintage tractor. After owning the vehicle a few years he seems to have started the long performance of trying to sell it. Four years had passed between the first advertisement and my friend acquiring it.

Eventually I finally met up with SMC’s owner. He said he still had a body that would fit my vehicle, unfortunately it was a much later type than it should have been if I am to restore it to its original specification. No drawings survive of the bodywork dimensions, I presume because so many sets of bodies were built by the coachbuilders and used as required on either Sandringham Sixes or FC82. The 4X4 body was a cut down version of the 6X6 body. The only 6X6 vehicle I know of has also had it’s body altered so all the vital measurements I require are not available and I have been unable to trace the whereabouts of the other vehicles in the UK. After my visit to SMC I now know what should and shouldn’t be on my FC82 as far as the chassis cab is concerned but I require some good photographs to try to make an accurate rear body. The dropsides are not the problem but the size of the lockers at the rear of the cab are.

Geoff Burge 2001