WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Here are our top tips on things to consider when buying a Series IIA/IIB Forward Control. Discuss prospective buys on our message boards, too.
For the definitive view get an LRO buying guide. See below for details.
Three engines were fitted to the Forward Control: 2286cc 4cyl petrol; 2286cc 4cyl diesel; 2625cc 6cyl petrol.
2.25 diesel – Even in tip-top condition a diesel is barely tolerable performance-wise, and incredibly noisy – they’re for diehards only.
2.25 petrol – Less desperate – not quite so noisy, they’re less critical on timing, and the least difficult to maintain but setting the points, for instance, is still awkward.
2.6 petrol – Best – though thirsty. Rover’s 2.6-litre, straight-six, long-stroke inlet-over-exhaust petrol engine is nicer to listen to and pulls the Forward Control along fairly adequately.
Gearbox problems and symptoms are the same as for any Series II/IIA. The engine is nearer to you, so if you’re hearing gearbox noise that’s not good news. Check the clutch operation carefully, because doing any work on it is tiresome.
SUSPENSION, WHEELS & TYRES
Replacement springs will need to be commissioned from a spring-maker, at upwards of £150 per spring. Dampers may well be shot – nearly impossible to tell on a Forward Control until you have a load on board. Wheels are 6.5Jx 16, with more outside-offset than standard. Check the IIB rims carefully – they’ve been known to split apart. Avoid the bar-grip tyres – they can let go suddenly on wet roads.
Most problems are down to neglect and lack of use. Brake problems are same as for any Series – corroded brake lines, aged flexi-hoses, wheel cylinder adjusters that are seized and snap off when a spanner is applied, scored drums, tired or oily linings, fluid that hasn’t been changed in living memory etc.
If the steering box or relay haven’t been kept topped up with oil, wear develops – and play becomes apparent at the steering wheel. The steering must be up to scratch – just driving a Forward Control requires all your concentration, without fighting the steering.
Electrics are all standard Series. Light units are often dull and dodgy, but easily and cheaply replaced. Since Forward Controls spend a lot of time out of use, irritating problems caused by corroded terminals are common, but diagnosis and fixing is straightforward.
EXTERIOR, BODYWORK AND TRIM
They may not be so rusty as standard models because they’re higher up, but they can still rot.
For bodywork, what you want is completeness. They were supplied with a drop-side back body, fixed-side back body, chassis-cab or simply as a driveable chassis. If a factory back body was fitted but is now missing, that affects the value a lot.
Replacement panels are unavailable, and scrapper Forward Controls are few and far between.
INTERNAL STRUCTURE AND INTERIOR
The cab area is simple and uses parts from contemporary models. Everything is fixable. Be honest when trying out a Forward Control – if you don’t suit the driving position you’ll be uncomfortable – maybe even dangerous.
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