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1964 J200 Gladiator Pickup 2017 Jp Dirt ‘N Drive Participant

Posted in Features on May 15, 2017
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When Kevin and Whitney Mereness of Meridian, Idaho, sent in their application for the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep event, we knew this was something we needed to see in person. It didn’t disappoint.

“I love fullsize Jeeps and wanted to build something totally different,” said Kevin. He is the owner of American Vintage 4x4. Seven years into this build, he definitely has one unique and awesome Jeep. The ’64 J200 Gladiator pickup cruises the highways at 85 mph and wheels the toughest trails with ease.

Since there weren’t any aftermarket suspension kits that would perform to Kevin’s expectations, he designed and built his own four-link kit with 14-inch ORI struts in the front and a custom leaf spring pack and Monroe shocks in the rear. The high-pinion D60 front axle and 14-bolt full-float rear axle each house 5.13 gears, Detroit Lockers, and Yukon chromoly ’shafts. At the ends of the axles are 3/4-ton GM front brakes, factory GM rear brakes, and a hydro-boost and Corvette master cylinder help slow this baby down. Tom Wood’s driveshafts can be found front and rear. The PSC Ram assist kit helps Kevin maneuver the 40x13.50x17R Nitto Mud Grapplers over the rocks.

Powering this vintage Gladiator is a GM 6.0L V-8 backed by a 4L65e four-speed automatic transmission that has been beefed up to Kevin’s specs. An Atlas II twin stick T-case with a 5:1 low-range ratio make the steepest accents and descents a breeze. A Be Cool transmission cooler mounted under the bed ices the trans fluid during those really tough wheeling days.

The interior is comfortable for those long road trips to and from trails and events. Odyssey seats, a custom dash with Dakota Digital instrumentation, Vintage Air system, Alpine stereo, and a Yaesu ham radio are all part of the interior upgrades Kevin wanted. Safety is paramount for Kevin and the DOM 1 3/4-inch interior cage fits tight against the cab lines. The exterior sports American Vintage 4x4 bumpers and skidplates, a Dual Force Warn winch, custom built bed and canopy cover, and Marine Forest Green paint.

We hope to see Kevin and Whitney again on future Jp Dirt ’N Drive events to watch how the Gladiator build grows, as we know Kevin is the kind of Jeeper who can’t resist continually upgrading this amazing rig for ever better trail performance.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: ’64 Jeep J 200 Gladiator
Engine: GM 6.0L Vortec V-8
Transmission: Beefed up GM 4L65e four-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Atlas II Twin Stick
Suspension: Custom-built four-link, 14-inch ORI struts (front); custom leaf spring pack and Monroe shocks (rear)
Axles: HP Ford F350 D60, 5.13 gears, Detroit Locker (front); GM 14-bolt full float, 5.13 gears, Detroit Locker (rear)
Wheels: Black Vision Soft 8
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grapplers

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