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What do David Bowie, Meryl Streep, Hulk Hogan, and John Travolta have in common beyond fame? They all sported mullets in the 1980s, a time when "business in the front and party in the back" was the mantra of many. But what does this have to do with Orange Coast Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram FIAT, your used Jeep Gladiator dealer?
Today, not even the automotive industry can escape the mullet craze of decades past, as many affectionately dub the Gladiator truck the "mullet of the Jeep lineup." Business in the front and party in the back, Jeep style. That's a craze we can certainly get behind even if the Gladiator predates the 1980s hair craze by four decades.
Like the mullet's resurgence in popularity, the Gladiator also made its return to American roads in 2020. However, the Gladiator's origins start decades ago in the late 1940s when Jeep introduced its first pickup truck following the success of the Willys Jeep, which was born of necessity in the fires of World War II. It's this history that shows us just how far the Gladiator has come and the key differences between the Gladiators of past and present.
Shortly after delivering the Willys Jeep to the American military fighting in World War II, Jeep introduced the "light reconnaissance vehicle" to the civilian market as the Jeep CJ-2A. The CJ-2A was marketed as "The All-Around Farm Work-Horse" and easily replaced horses on farms throughout America and, eventually, around the world. The CJ-2A's success pushed Jeep to design an even better workhorse for farmers, and thus was born the Willys-Overland Truck in 1947.
By 1965, the bare-bones Willys-Overland Truck was out of date and headed for discontinuation. But two years prior, Jeep gave drivers a more modern alternative with the debut of the Jeep Gladiator J-Series Truck. The full-size truck shared the same platform, engine, and styling as the luxurious Jeep Wagoneer, which meant better performance and far more features than the Willys-Overland ever offered. What was even better was that drivers could customize the Gladiator to meet their needs by choosing from several configurations like the narrow Thriftside box, the wide Townside box, a chassis cab design, and more.
The Gladiator's versatility added to its popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s, at which time the Gladiator name was dropped, and it was known simply as the J-Series truck. During this time, Jeep set a new standard for capability in the truck segment and outfitted every J-Series with four-wheel drive, making them capable workhorses on any terrain. Owners also had the choice between several powertrain options, as well as available upgrades and accessories, including a dumper body, snowplow, front-mounted winch, and wrecker package. You could even opt for the J-Series Camper Special Edition, which mounted a rear camper onto the truck's body and added beefier tires and an improved suspension and transmission.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the J-Series truck saw several upgrades and improvements like the addition of front disc brakes, new exterior color options, unique design details, and a stronger frame. However, by 1987, the J-Series truck was discontinued to make way for models like the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler and the Jeep Comanche. By the new millennium, the Gladiator craze of the 1970s and 1980s was nothing more than a distant memory.
After the discontinuation of the Comanche in 1992, it looked as if Jeep might be done with pickup trucks forever. However, Jeep decided to return to its roots, with the Gladiator SJ ultimately paving the way for the Gladiator JT's arrival on American roads in 2020. The Gladiator's family tree begs us to ask what similarities the SJ and the JT have in common and how one inspired the other. How does the mullet live on?
The Gladiator SJ traces its roots to post-war America when Jeep revolutionized rural America by delivering a truck capable of outworking any horse or mule. The two-door truck was based on the Wagoneer platform and delivered power and capability throughout its production run, whether equipped with a 3.8-liter engine, a 4.2-liter, or a 6.6-liter with a 3-speed or 4-speed manual transmission. The combinations were plentiful for the Gladiator, which also came standard with four-wheel drive helped to lay the foundation for Jeep's legendary four-wheel drive capability and ruggedness.
Fast forward three decades, and the Gladiator makes its grand return in 2020 as the Gladiator JT. No longer based on the Wagoneer of decades past, the Gladiator JT is built on the Wrangler platform and marks Jeep's first truck since the Comanche of the 1990s. The new midsize pickup truck isn't born of agricultural necessity but of the demand from Jeep fans for a capable off-roader with a bed. Jeep answered that call with the Gladiator that churns out more power and capability than the Gladiator SJ ever dreamed thanks to Jeep's proven powertrains and a suite of innovative connectivity, safety, and capability tools that weren't even imaginable in the 1960s.
The Gladiator is a great reason to get excited about the Jeep brand because of its rich history in America. Jeep's iconic truck transformed how Americans worked in the 1960s by proving that a truck could replace any capable steed to get the job done better, faster, and easier. Today, the Gladiator continues to impact how we live and work by delivering the exceptional capability that the Jeep brand is known for around the world.
We're thrilled to show you everything a used Gladiator has to offer and welcome you to the Jeep and the Orange Coast family. In business since the 1980s, we're well-established in the automotive industry and take great pride in our reputation and the legacy we continue to build. That legacy is one that reflects our commitment to our customers and our willingness to go the extra mile to deliver a unique Jeep buying and owning experience. Our customers always come first, and it shows with awards like the FCA Customer First Award, a prestigious honor given only to dealerships who offer exemplary customer service.
We put your needs first in every aspect of the buying and owning process. You'll see this firsthand in our commitment to getting you in and out of the dealership in 90 minutes or less from the moment you say "yes" to your next Jeep. We know that your time is valuable, and that's why we've streamlined the car-buying process so that you have more time for adventures in your Jeep with the people you love. If we don't make that 90-minute deadline, we'll give you $100 credit toward your Jeep's maintenance at our service center.