Eventually renamed the J-series, Jeep's Gladiator pick up was produced from the early 1960s to the late 80s. Offered in many configurations and with some truly cutting-edge features for the time, the Gladiator and J-series trucks defined the Jeep brand for decades. Read on for some info on the history and significance of the Jeep Gladiator, as well as other Jeep trucks offered over the years.

When was the Jeep Gladiator introduced?

The Gladiator hit the market in 1962, built on the frame of the brand's Wagoneer station wagon. The introduction of the Gladiator came at a time of change for the Jeep brand, as the original manufacturer, Willy's Overland Motors, changed its name to the Kaiser Jeep Corporation is early 1963. Fun Fact: Today, Jeep pays homage to Willy's Overland Motors with a special edition Willy's Wheeler Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. These models draw inspiration from the Willy's CJ, one of the original Willy's Overland vehicles and a precursor to the modern Wrangler.

What was new and innovative about the Jeep Gladiator?

When they were introduced, Jeep Gladiators were noted for having a unique combination of a low silhouette and a high ground clearance, making them incredibly maneuverable. The biggest innovation of the original Gladiator, however, was its transmission. The Gladiator was the first 4-wheel-drive truck to be offered with an automatic transmission. While a four-speed manual was also available, as well as a 2-wheel-drive option, the 4WD automatic was incredibly popular across many demographics, and really set the Gladiator apart from other pickups on the market at the time.

What did the Jeep Gladiator look like?

The Gladiator (and the later J-series) was offered in a large variety of body styles, which is another reason the model was so popular. The Gladiator Townside was the most universal model, a classic pickup with a refined interior and a body that could be easily navigated through town. The Thriftside offerd a more work-capable take on the Townside's body. Build for heavy-duty work and serious cargo loads, single and dual-rear wheel Stake models offered a fenced-in cargo bed connected to the Thriftside cab. The Stake model was preferred by family farms and other outdoor workers. Jeep also offered a Panel Delivery model truck built on the Gladiator platform, which had solid sides closing in the bed.

When was the Jeep Gladiator discontinued?

The Gladiator technically met it's end in 1970, when the Kaiser Jeep Company was bought by AMC.  The next year, AMC dropped the Gladiator name and began referring to the model as simply the Jeep Pickup, differentiating different trims and versions as the J-something (think Ford's F-150, F-250 etc). Jeep pickups continued to be offered until the late 80s, when the brand was purchased by Chrysler. The full-sized Gladiator-style truck was discontinued in 1988, just a year after the purchase, mainly because of competition with Chrysler's more popular line of Dodge pickups. The smaller Jeep Comanche pickup was still produced by Chrysler until 1992.

Will the Jeep Gladiator ever come back?

Rumors of a new Jeep truck or the return of an old model have circulated among Jeep enthusiasts basically since they were phased out. While Jeep has released truck concepts a number of times (including a 2005 Jeep Gladiator concept), they generally only served to remind people that Jeep trucks did once exist, and create hype around the idea that they could come back. No real leads on a revival of the Jeep truck came until recent years, in which the CEO of Fiat Chrysler announced the production of a Wrangler-based Jeep pickup. The truck, which was initially set to be released in 2017, has been pushed back to 2019, and will be built on the new generation of Wranglers (which should be available by the start of 2018). Aside from that, most of the information regarding the vehicle is rumors and speculation, but it can be stated for certain that anticipation is rising for the return of the Jeep pickup.