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Jeep Autopsy: Gladiator And JT

M715 M725 Gladiator
Tori Tellem | Writer
Posted November 7, 2007
Photographers: Courtesy of the DaimlerChrysler corporate historical collection

The Original Fullsize Pickups

Long before there were Gladiator and JT concept pickups, there were Gladiator and JT production pickups. The Gladiators were the other half of the J-Series (Wagoneers sharing the title), while Jeep trucks essentially picked up where the Gladiator name left off. They weren't the first Jeep pickups, but they did offer such a diverse range of wheelbases, body styles, packages, engines, gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR), and configurations that you could probably create some kind of corresponding drinking game.

As with the Wagoneer, the Gladiator first appeared in the fall of 1962 as a '63 model. Called "handsome . . . and hardy!" by its creator, the pickup line was "popular because truck owners like to save time, work, and money. Gladiator trucks save you time because they're not limited to conventional roads." The truck was part of the "transportation trio" alongside the Universal Jeep and Wagoneer. The end came with '87 models.

We haven't mentioned yet the infamous Levi's interior trim, but you probably aren't surprised it appears in the Honcho package that began in 1976. The Honcho had Tracker A/T rubber, air conditioning, and not-subtle lettering that Jeep called "bold." They would.

Also known as the J-200/J-2000 series (120-inch wheelbase) and the J-300/J-3000 series (126-inch wheelbase, 205.36 inches long), the Gladiator was available with 7- or 8-foot beds. You could get a Thriftside (stepside), a Townside (with the flat body sides), or stake (also available as a dualie) pickup, platform stake, or chassis cab, in standard or custom cab, as a 1/2-, 3/4-, or 1-ton, and with two- or four-wheel drive (begin the drinking game now), although the 1-tons were limited to 4x4 status. It was 1970 that brought the optional lightweight Camper package to the 126-inchers and included heavier-duty parts, while the Camper Truck was a bigger-and-longer choice-a 132-inch wheelbase and 205.64-inch length. In 1970, the 132-inch-wheelbase J-4000 series joined the group, while the J-3000 vanished (drink). This same year brought a grille change to the Gladiator.

The following year, there were three Gladiators available: J-2000, J-4000, and Camper, and by 1972, the Gladiator officially became the J-Truck series: J-2500, J-3500, J-4500, J-4600, J-4700, and J-4800. The first two rode on the 120-inch wheelbase while the others had 132-inch wheelbases, and this marked the same time you could get a J-Truck with a 120-inch wheelbase and 6,000-pound GVWR. Come 1974, the models were again renamed, this time to J-10 and J-20, with the J-10 available in 119- and 131-inch wheelbases (194 and 206 inches long overall, respectively) and the J-20 at 131 inches (drink). Dead by 1973 was the Thriftside.

Packages included the Custom and the fancy-without-schmancy Pioneer in 1974, which by 1977, temporarily turned itself into Custom (and only for the J-20), the same year the Golden Eagle dropped. Wondering where the macho Honcho is? That's a '76 package on the 119-inch wheelbase. The Laredo was available for short wheelbases in 1980, and by 1984, only Pioneer and Laredo were offered. That next year saw the demise of the shorty J-10. We mentioned the Panel Delivery in our Wagoneer coverage last issue; it had a wheelbase of 110 inches and was about 10 inches shorter overall compared with the J-200/2000. Now we need a drink.

The standard engine was the 230ci six-cylinder Tornado, but by 1965, the standard six was the 232ci Hi-Torque, which made 145 hp at 4,400 rpm and 215 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm with an 8.5:1 compression ratio. The optional 327ci two-barrel Vigilante V-8 made 250 hp at 4,700 rpm and 340 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm with 8.7:1 compression. In 1968, the optional V-8 was upgraded from the 327 to the Buick-sourced two-barrel 350 Dauntless that made 230 hp at 4,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm and had 9.0:1 compression.

For 1972, it was AMC engines: the 4.2L 258ci became the standard straight-six for the J-10 (except in California), making 110 hp at 3,500 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm with 3.75x3.90-inch bore-and-stroke and 8.0:1 compression. Optional in all but the 7,000- and 8,000-pound GVWR trucks was the 304 V-8, with 150 hp at 4,200 rpm and 245 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm with a bore-and-stroke of 3.75x3.44 inches and 8.4:1 compression. Standard for the 7,000- and 8,000-pound GVWR was the two-barrel 5.9L 360ci V-8 that made 175 hp at 4,000 rpm and 285 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm with 4.08x3.44-inch bore-and-stroke and 8.5:1 compression. It was optional for the 5,000- and 6,000-pound GVWR.

For '73, the V-8s were the two-barrel and four-barrel 360 (standard in California) that made 195 hp at 4,400 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm, although by the next year only the two-barrel was served, as was another option, the four-barrel 401, which made 215 hp at 4,200 rpm and 320 lb-ft at 2,800 rpm. By 1979, it was down to the 258 as standard on the J-10 and the two-barrel 360 for the J-20 (optional for the J-10, and not in California).

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