The Jeep Gladiator (or Jeep Pickup) is a full-size pickup truck based on the large SJ (Jeep Wagoneer) platform that was built under varying marques from 1962 to 1988. The Jeep pickup design was noteworthy for being in production for more than 26 years with only minor mechanical changes. There were also military versions contracted by a number of nations in addition to the United States.
First introduced in 1962, the Gladiator designations were J200 (short wheelbase trucks, up to mid-1965); J2000; J300 (long wheelbase trucks, up to mid-1967 ); J3000; and J4000, the first model with a longer 131-inch (3,300 mm) wheelbase.
Gladiators were available in RWD and 4WD, and came either with a solid front axle, or independent front suspension with optional dual rear wheels.
Gladiator trucks were available as: Cab and Chassis; Wrecker; Stake Bed; and chassis-mounted campers with extended wheelbases. The load bed options were Townside, Thriftside (a "step-side"), and Stake Bed.
A new overhead cam engine, the "Tornado" 230 cu in (3.8 L) straight-six producing 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS) was standard.
In early 1963, Willys Motors changed its name to Kaiser Jeep Corporation.
During 1965 the 327 cu in (5.4 L) AMC V8 engine became available. It produced 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) and 340 pound-feet (461 N·m) torque at 2600 rpm. The standard Tornado engine was replaced by American Motors' 232 cu in (3.8 L) OHV inline six.
From 1968 to 1971 Jeep pickups offered the Buick 350 cu in (5.7 L) 230 hp (172 kW; 233 PS) Dauntless V8 as the optional engine.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) purchased the Kaiser Jeep operations in 1970 when Kaiser Industries decided to leave the automobile business. The Jeep trucks moved to all AMC engines to improve performance and standardize production and servicing. The Buick engine was replaced by the 360 cu in (5.9 L) or 401 cu in (6.6 L) AMC V8s.
In 1970, the Gladiator's front grille was changed to the same design as the Jeep Wagoneer SUV. This was the truck's first styling change since its introduction. An AMC badge was also added on the grille.
Jeep Truck (1971-1988)
The Gladiator name was dropped after 1971, after which the line was known simply as the Jeep pickup. The pickups were designated as J2000 and J4000 models (the 3000 series was dropped in 1971) until 1973, then as J10 and J20 models from 1974 to 1988.
From 1971 to 1972 Jeep pickups offered the AMC 304 cu in (5.0 L) 210 hp V8 as an optional engine.
Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987. The full-size Jeep Pickup line was not only an aging model, but also competed directly with the broader range of Dodge trucks. Chrysler discontinued the full-size Jeep trucks, but continued to build the luxurious and highly profitable Grand Wagoneer, which shared the chassis with the large pickups.
However, after the Chrysler buyout, the compact Jeep Comanche pickup (based on the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) platform) received only minor changes and its production continued until 1992.
Military versions of the Jeep pickup included the M715 and M725.
The Honcho was a trim package on the J10 pickup, offered from 1976-1983. It consisted of bold striping and decals, and was offered with factory extras such as the Levi's interior or a roll bar. It was one in a series of special decal packages offered for J-Series trucks in the mid to late 1970s, which included the Golden Eagle and the "10-4" which offered an optional Citizens' Band radio along with the decals. The Honcho package was only available on the sportside (stepside) and short bed trucks. Between 1980 and 1983, only 1,264 of the sportside versions were produced.
Decal packages were available for many of Jeep's vehicles in the 1970s, including a package for the Jeep Cherokee called the Cherokee Chief. The Golden Eagle package mentioned above was also available for both the CJ, TJ and the Cherokee.