There’s no denying that the frame, composition and evocation of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck is novel from head to toe. However, its namesake dates all the way back to the 1960’s, when Jeep introduced a unique version to the American market.
The Original Gladiator Was a Pickup All Its Own
In 1962, the Jeep brand released the original Jeep Gladiator. This version was a ride all its own, defining itself as a full-size pickup truck. The Gladiator was proudly based on the platform of the original Wagoneer (yet another name that’s come full circle in the Jeep family—but that’s a whole different story).
The 20th-century Gladiator—also known as the Jeep Pickup or J Series—was sold until 1988. In the meantime, it delivered immense inspiration for folks of America and beyond. It made a name as the first post-war American army truck, aiming to serve the everyday life of civilians while offering special military adaptations to boot.
Compared to today’s standards, the original Jeep Pickup was a rather simple machine. It had a body-on-frame setup with independent front suspension. Power suspension and power steering were optional luxuries for this truck as well as others of the era. At the time, however, these feats were truly innovative.
After 1971, the Jeep Gladiator name fizzed out, with consumers drawn more toward the straightforward nature of the Jeep Pickup title. It wasn’t until 21st-century concepts came to the forefront that the Gladiator name returned, and this time with full force.
The Pickup Concept Returned, If Only for a Moment
About 15 years ago, in 2004, the brand revealed the Jeep Gladiator concept to steadfast vehicle enthusiasts at the Chicago Auto Show. This version of the inevitable Jeep pickup truck showed audience members just how far the Jeep brand has come in the years since 1988.
At the time, Jeep didn’t officially intend to put the Gladiator on the market, but this move showed buyers that Jeep (as well as their parent company DaimlerChrysler) had some serious ideas brewing regarding the pickup truck genre.
The Future Beyond the Original Gladiator
To us, it seems like the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which is set to be released this spring, has been decades in the making. The brand has invested their livelihoods into analyzing just what the market—particularly the American side—wants out of a capable and adventurous pickup truck.
Anyone with their eyes open can see that the upcoming Gladiator is nothing like its forefathers (what with high-tech features like a TrailCam to accompany capable hauling nearing 8,000 pounds). However, this version brings years of brainstorming, research and trial and error into fruition right before our very eyes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for this legacy of a pickup truck family.