The Jeep Gladiator was a full-size pickup truck sold for 25 years by the various company owners over its past. Due to the various changes in ownership of Jeep during the production of the Gladiator, there were frequent changes to the engine and body style over the years. The trucks body started out with a much more square and box-like style but transformed over the years to include more rounded corners and chrome accents to accentuate a flashy persona.
The origins of the Jeep name can be traced back as far as World War II when the U.S. Army expressed their need for a lightweight, all-terrain reconnaissance vehicle. However, it was not until World War II that the classic Jeep we see today was born. Eventually Jeep would produce many other vehicles, including the Jeep Wagoneer which was the company's first luxury four-wheel drive SUV. It was sold from 1963 to 1991 and its counterpart during production was the Jeep Gladiator. The Jeep Gladiator, also known as the Jeep Pickup, was a full-sized pickup truck designed and built on the full-size Jeep (FSJ) platform. It was sold from 1962 to 1988, sometimes under different names depending on the trim and marketed functionality.
The Jeep Gladiator was known for its consistency and reliability during its production. There were very few changes to the Gladiator's engine and body style, making repairs and maintenance very convenient and relatively hassle free due to the constant availability of parts. While Willys-Overland and Kaiser-Jeep owned the company, the Jeep Gladiator was the official name of the Jeep pickup truck however American Motors Company dropped the Gladiator name and simply called it the Jeep pickup.
The Jeep Gladiator was marketed and manufactured just like the original civilian Jeep vehicle. It was to be the working man's truck that would emphasize reliability and functionality. Its design and build was similar to that of other Jeep vehicles however it was wider and longer to compete with the other full-size pickup trucks available by other manufacturers.
The last Jeep pickup in production was the 1988 model. Even though it was the 26year since it had been introduced, very little had changed to the overall design since the first model. The 1988 Jeep pickup was offered in two different models, the J10 and J20. The J10 model had a total length of 119 inches while the J20 was 131 inches. The models featured a Dana manual four-wheel-drive system that included heavier axle tubes and more powerful front disc brakes. The J10 feature offered only one engine size, the 4.2-liter, six-cylinder engine and the J20 model offered a choice of the 5.9-liter V-8, or 6.6-liter V-8 engine and optional Quadra-Trac or automatic transmission. The Jeep pickup also featured a heater/defroster, electric windshield wipers, chrome bumper and grille, air-conditioning, power brakes and steering and optional color-keyed vinyl upholstery, headliner and door panels.
The Gladiator truck came with the 3.8-liter, six-cylinder, overhead cam Jeep Tornado engine that produced 140hp. Kaiser-Jeep changed the engine in 1965 to the American Motors 3.8-liter, six-cylinder engine but also offered a 5.4-liter, AMC V-8 that produced 250hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, after purchasing the company in 1963. From 1968 to 1971 the Gladiator came with an additional option of the Buick 5.7-liter, Duantless V-8 engine. In 1970, American Motors Corporation bought the Jeep company and changed the engine options to the 5.9-liter and 6.6-liter, AMC V-8. The 1970 Gladiator also got a new front grille to match the Jeep Wagoneer and an AMC Badge. It was the first styling change since its introduction and the transmission was a four-speed manual during this production period.
The Jeep pickup was offered in two models, the J10 and J20. The J10 had a smaller wheelbase and smaller engine while the J20 was larger in both areas. In 1977, both models offered a powerful Dana four-wheel drive system however the J10 engine was 4.2-liter and the J20 was a 5.9-liter or a 6.6-liter and optional Quadra-trac or automatic transmission.
The M715 military vehicle featured different models for different functions, all based on the Jeep Gladiator platform. They were purchased to replace the M37 truck. They used a the Tornado six-cylinder engine which was not very reliable due to poor maintenance and knowledge about the engine's intake design. They were eventually dropped for the Dodge M880 series.
The Honcho was a J10 trim package variant the featured vibrant body striping and decals, a Levi's interior and roll bar. The Honcho was only offered in two body types, the side-step or short bed. There were various trim options from year to year, such as the Golden Eagle and the 10-4 which included an optional Citizens' Band radio with alternate decals.