Classic Pickup: 1963-1971 Jeep Gladiator

Posted on 03. Sep, 2012 by in Auto News

Richard Truesdell

Revolutionary in his day saw the full-size Jeep Pickup a long production run, 1963 to 1987. Here we look at the first generation of full-size Jeep pickup that seemed at times to have nine lives.

With persistent speculation that Jeep back into the pickup market with a Wrangler-based pickup -. Gladiator either 2005 or J-12 this spring – it's a good time to check introduced the history of the original Jeep Gladiator, 1962

The Gladiator full-size pickup was ahead of its time in many ways. It was sold and sold primarily as a four-wheel-drive truck, but it was in front with an innovative single-overhead-cam six-cylinder engine and independent suspension that was offered advanced for its time.

The story begins with the Gladiator Jeep pickup that went before it, which was built in the chassis of the 1946-62 Jeep Station Wagon. A rugged, reliable trucks, the Jeep Station Wagon and pickups were a four-wheel-drive alternative to the Spartan Jeep CJ from that time. With simple and robust drives they competed against a few vehicles in the emerging markets, a four-wheel drive market, which was out of its utilitarian beginnings postwar movement geared toward multipurpose truck at a growing leisure market.

In the late 1950s, Jeep designers and engineers are looking forward to a platform at the end he would develop four different corporate cultures champion – Willys Motors, Kaiser Jeep, American Motors Corp. and Chrysler -. During the next three decades The chassis for the Jeep Gladiator (SJ-platform) has been developed in parallel and together with the father of the modern SUV, the Jeep Wagoneer.

Although the general Wagoneer / Gladiator style was often attributed to industrial designer Brooks Stevens, in fact its most important contribution to the design was the upright grille, often found as "rhino grille" on the early 1963-65 Wagoneers and Gladiator truck referred to 1970. In 1971, was acquired by jeep through the American Motors, has the Gladiator, then what was the full width, vertically slotted grille found on the then current Wagoneer, which was a more upscale grill itself.

Many Jeep enthusiasts do not realize that if the gladiator was introduced, it has two new features that had apart from its competitors, designed from the ground next to the all-wheel drive. (Two-wheel drive Gladiator made a small percentage of total sales). First, the overhead cam six-cylinder engine was 230 Tornado. It was the first mass-produced overhead-camshaft before Pontiac OHC Sprint Six presented in 1965 U.S. developed.

It was an update of the Willys "226 Hurricane flat-head six, a mainstay of the Jeep lineup from 1954 to 1962 was. During the OHC Tornado Six was an economical engine with good low-end torque, it developed a reputation for oil leaks out the undeserved warranty headaches. was the middle of the 1965 model year with AMC's new overhead-valve-232-cubic-inch Six replaced. This basic engine architecture for four decades in a variety of Jeep products, all the way up 2006, when the fuel injection 4.0-liter version of the Jeep Wrangler has been replaced by a Chrysler V-6 serves, a move that many Jeep purists complain to this day.

(Des Willys Tornado Six thinking as EcoBoost V-6 of his era, a time when a liter of gasoline cost only 25 cents per gallon read. For a more detailed analysis of the Jeep Hurricane and Tornado six-cylinder engines, Jim Allen earlier excellent document.)

While Jeep trucks have a well deserved reputation for durability due to their rugged front solid axle and Dana drive components was one of the innovations on the 1963 gladiators led a unique independent front suspension. The 1963 brochure is described in this way.

SUSPENSION SYSTEM: For better handling and improved ride, the all new "Jeep" pickup trucks are equipped with an advanced design front independent suspension system – a "Jeep" exclusively in 4-wheel drive. Independent front axle drive with protected three bars and closed axle shafts provide the ultimate additional 4-wheel-drive traction and still unsurpassed comfort of the front independent suspension. And do not bother for this function at competitive 4-wheel-drive truck look … You will not find it.

Like the Tornado OHC six this $ 160 option only lasted a few years before they set at the end of the 1965 model year, making it (as the IFS) a quiet footnote full size Jeep history. In rare cases, an original Gladiator with the Tornado six and IFS equipped not purist as a collector of anyone, but a full-size Jeep. In all my years in the Jeep community, I have never seen a gladiator with the SOHC six and IFS, like most gladiators were built with the standard solid-axle setup. In fact, I've only seen a Wagoneer with IFS. But just to prove that Kaiser Willys and built like an animal, please Bruce Rice on 1963 Jeep Wagoneer on John Master site.

What was the unique gladiator in 1963 really the combination of all-wheel drive with an automatic transmission. The transmission was offered Borg-Warner AS-8W severe three-speed automatic. In 1963, not even Chevy, Dodge, Ford, GMC, International, or offered such a combination. It's almost as if the engineers in Toledo could personal use, leisure 4X4 pick-up on the horizon, and decades later would housewives can use their three-ton pickups to Costco for bulk purchases of food.

Without V-8 in its lineup, Jeep certainly lost potential sales of its Big Three competitors in 1963 and 1964, when the gladiators ill-equipped to accommodate large loads or towing always had to carry larger boats and caravans. This was addressed in 1965 when Kaiser began offering AMC 327-cubic-inch V-8. Not to be confused with the small-block Chevy with which they taught nothing but her shift shares of AMC Vigilante V-8 Gladiator's biggest flaw, HP, and served strong commercial relations between Toledo, Ohio, and Kenosha, Wisconsin Strike the result was ultimately purchase the AMC Jeep brand from Kaiser in 1970.

The AMC V-8, which dates back to the mid-1950s, was almost perfectly suited for the Gladiator. It was a low-revving, high-torque motor, but as AMC to a new family of thin-walled, small-block V-8s was moved, it was discontinued after the 1967 model year, replaced by a 230-hp, 350-cubic- inch V-8 provided by Buick. , 360 – but bought by AMC Jeep, was the entire full-size Jeep lineup, trucks and Wagoneers, use in a crash program AMC 304, constructed and 401-cubic-inch V-8s instead of the Buick 350th

At the time of taking over the AMC Wagoneer SUVs were in the real price of the acquisition. AMC credit, after switching the moniker Gladiator, J-Truck in marketing its line of full-size pickups, the company did what ever they could to also continue to update the pickup truck next to the Wagoneer. Run while the rest of the production, AMC offered a number of option packages, such as the Honcho, which ran from 1976 to 1983. Chrysler almost immediately discontinued production of full-size pickups, Jeep, competing as they have with the poor-selling Dodge pickups. But the AMC era of full-size Jeep trucks history is best left for the next article in this series.

If you want to see a well-preserved example of an early Jeep Gladiator, look no further than Frank Sanborn's 1965 Gladiator. Well, it's a gladiator that it was the first in 1965 with the title, but the vehicle identification number indicates that it was built in 1963, according to Sanborn. "It's a pretty unusual truck, a 4,000-pound total weight two-wheel-drive truck," he says.

"The truck was originally purchased in early 1965 by a potato farmer in Munger, Michigan and has been in use on his farm until 1999," Sanborn says. "I bought the car in 2000 from the second owner and have done a lot of mechanical work to keep it on the road. It had 44,000 miles on it, when I got it and now has just 60,000. The original owner had the truck itself repainted in the mid 90s.

"The engine is the 230-cubic-inch OHC Tornado six with a three-on-the-tree transmission," says Sanborn. "The exhaust manifold on the 230 are prone to cracking, and somewhere along the way, a built very beautiful, handmade installed six in two headers. I have true dual exhaust system all the way back. It's have a very unique engine sound! It has over manual steering and manual drum brakes. It's very simple, very spartan and wonderful truck like. Currently riding on 7.00 to 15 ply tires winter tires, add the no-nonsense personality of the truck, but in all honesty to ride miserable. "

The most striking element of the NOS Whitco Convertible topper Sanborn is found in 2004. "It is practical and complements the look of the car," Sanborn says. "The truck gets a lot of use as my weekend errand runners and the occasional road back cruise. It runs comfortably on the highway at 55 to 60 mph, and I've driven on a few more drives, up to 250 miles in a day. But long-distance comfort is not exactly his forte. it is parked for the winter months here in Michigan to get, because I do not want that. the road salt to the rust worse "

With plans for renovations and cleanup Sanborn has all the makings of a true survivors. Another era of classic American pickup "I do not want to make it so beautiful that I was afraid to drive it, or use it as a bin 'truck'. It is very glad when it gets to actually do some work," said Sanborn.

The Jeep Gladiator, along with the companion Wagoneer has a large and vibrant online community. If you want to learn more about this remarkable truck, visit the International Full Size Jeep Association, and hosted by John Masters.

For further reading, check out this completely dealer brochure for the 1963 Gladiator.