21ST-CENTURY GLADIATOR: Off-Road Mastery Meets Modern Marvel with this 2021 Jeep 4×4

Written by Nicole Ellan James

Jeep has consistently stood as an automaker closely linked with off-road exploration and has always been known for its exceptional off-road capabilities. During the lead-up to World War II, Willys-Overland conceived a prototype for a pickup truck, a creation that would ultimately stand as one of America’s most significant contributions to modern warfare. The popularity of the pickup platform continued to grow and evolved into the first-ever Jeep Gladiator.

Debuting in 1962 for the 1963 model year, the initial Jeep Gladiator displayed an identical front-end design to the Jeep Wagoneer. Its lineup encompassed a range of setups, spanning from chassis-mounted campers featuring extended wheelbases to both narrow- and wide-box beds. The “Gladiator” nameplate endured until 1971, at which point it became known as the J-Series. This nomenclature continued until 1987, when production of Jeep-brand pickups ceased.

Both the Jeep pickup and Gladiator nameplate were resurrected for the 2020 model year. While all Jeeps are capable in stock configuration, the custom 2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon pickup offered with No Reserve during the inaugural 2023 New Orleans Auction, September 28-30 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, takes things to a whole new level.

Equipped with an array of bespoke chassis, driveline and engine upgrades, this 2021 Jeep Gladiator stands fortified, ready for any expedition. This exceptional transformation was orchestrated by Tank Customs, an establishment based in Houston, Texas, renowned for pushing the boundaries of vehicle and engine customization.

The Gladiator is powered by a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 that has been upgraded from its factory specifications of 260hp and 442 ft/lbs of torque to an impressive 350hp and 585 ft/lbs of torque, thanks to numerous performance modifications. These modifications include an updated engine tune, a stainless-steel turbo-back exhaust system designed for minimal restriction and the incorporation of an AFE Momentum intake.

Elevating the off-road capabilities of this Gladiator is a robust suspension system that employs a long-arm setup, featuring a triangulated rear arrangement. Notably, the vehicle’s mobility is accentuated by its substantial 43-inch Mickey Thompson tires, affixed to custom-coated 17-inch KMC beadlock wheels. Complementing this setup, a tilt-up bed-mounted tire carrier is present in the bed area. Additionally, a custom 20-gallon fuel tank has been seamlessly integrated beneath the bed of this Gladiator. This strategic placement not only generates extra clearance but also facilitates enhanced suspension articulation, enabling uninterrupted movement.

Considering the substantial rubber beneath it, the Gladiator has been outfitted with Dynatrac 60- and 80-series Elite axles, bolstered by a tailor-made hydro-assisted steering system. This cohesive setup ensures that the Gladiator adeptly maneuvers its sizeable wheel and tire combination with remarkable ease and safety.

Adorned in a striking Hydro Blue finish, the vehicle’s exterior is adorned and safeguarded by Motobilt’s robust heavy-duty steel bumpers at both the front and rear, along with rocker guards, sliders and fender flares.

What’s particularly distinctive about this show-stopping, off-road-ready Jeep Gladiator is its modified bed, which has been expertly shortened by 10 inches ‒ referred to in the off-roading and custom Jeep community as “bobbed.”

While the Gladiator boasts formidable off-road capabilities, its interior is thoughtfully equipped with modern conveniences, exemplified by the inclusion of custom leather seats adorned with coordinating stitching. For enhanced visibility during nighttime excursions, the vehicle is equipped with a KC Gravity Pro 6 light bar. The interior is further highlighted by a touchscreen sPOD switch system, which serves a dual purpose: managing all auxiliary lights and overseeing the GMRS radio for seamless communication with fellow adventurers while navigating the trails.

Should any fellow off-road enthusiasts find themselves in a tight spot, this Gladiator comes prepared with a range of recovery tools. These include a WARN VR 12-S winch and a WARN Epic Fairlead, along with a Factor 55 Flatlink.

The Gladiator offered in New Orleans stands as a remarkable testament to the fusion of off-road prowess and modern comfort, and is poised to leave an indelible mark on any journey it embarks upon. Register to bid today to take it on your next off-road adventure.

The Gladiator offered in New Orleans stands as a remarkable testament to the fusion of off-road prowess and modern comfort, and is poised to leave an indelible mark on any journey it embarks upon.