For the past 53 years at Easter, the Jeep rabid converge on the town of Moab, in southern Utah, surrounded by red slick rock and some of the most iconic landscape the United States has to offer. For one week in April or March, depending when Easter lands on the calendar, Jeep vehicles with tires as monolithic as Courthouse Rock compete for the ohhhhhs and ahhhhhs of passersby. With the likes of Delicate Arch and the views that extend to infinity from Islands in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park as a background, this year’s event had 40 designated trails for wheelers to gobble up.

The launch of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator was the inspiration for this year’s safari as Jeep paraded out some epic concepts based on their new JT truck. While other car and truck manufacturers makes one-off show vehicles, Jeep’s concepts, save one, were based on production vehicles that are drivable and are more attainable for owners than one might think. Here’s five reasons why we found this year’s gathering so compelling:

1.     The 80s Are Alive and Kicking


Two of the six concepts Jeep built were based on the iconic Scrambler CJ8. While never officially a truck, the Scrambler was a long wheelbase CJ7 that gave it a pickup-esque box instead of a proper truck bed. Unlike the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which is uber capable with a best-in-class towing capacity of 7,000 pounds, the original CJ series including the Scrambler couldn’t haul much.

The Gladiator Scrambler version has all the requisite retro decals in colors called Punk’n Metallic Orange and Nacho. It also sports a vintage Amber Freedom top and a custom roll bar in the bed. All it needs is a cassette player and your time machine would be complete. Perhaps Jeep should only allow XM satellite radio stations 80s on 8, First Wave and Classic Rewind to play in this one.

The Gladiator J6, by far one of the favorites of the group, is a true representation of the CJ8 Scrambler. Built on a Wrangler chassis with an extended wheelbase, this is a 2-door truck with a 6-foot bed. Start making it now, Jeep. This example, in a metallic blue paint that would make Michelangelo weep, isn’t equipped with the Ram 1500 rear suspension making it able to haul up to 1,600 pounds of payload, but Jeep confirmed that if this concept went to production, they’d put it under there. Again, why are we even waiting for this to happen?

2.     Hell’s Revenge


No, not the world-famous slick-rock trail that serpentines through over obscene, ancient rock formations, but Mopar’s Hell Crate engine. Jeep got their hands on a 1968 military M517 truck and called it the Five Quarter, an historical nod to Jeep’s one-and-a-quarter trucks. They didn’t just do an engine swap, but an engine swap from hell. Bubbling under the sheet metal is that 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 good for more than 700 hp.

The stripped down Five Quarter truck is full of insane details, like reserve fuel tanks for gin and tonic, low-back leather seats that look like they’re from an old flight jacket and 20-inch, 8-lug beadlock wheels wear 40-inch tires attached to a Dynatrac Pro-rock 60-milimeter axel up front and an 80 in the rear. For comparison, the 2020 Gladiator comes equipped with Dana 44s. Heavy duty? Hell, yeah.

3.     We Need Stinkin’ Badges

The badges and decals on all of the concepts are some of our favorite parts of these Jeep concepts. From the old school 4WheelDrive badge on the J6 to the menacing Hell Crated badge on the Five Quarter to the Solo Rated badge on the Gravity rock-climber concept. Incidentally, we love the climbing lady decal as well.

Another badge seen quite a bit on all of Jeeps concepts is the one from Mopar. With over 200 parts already on the market for the Jeep Gladiator, Mopar has every customer covered.

The Gravity concept is a great rolling catalog for what you could do to your rig tomorrow, as all the parts on it are for sale. From the tube doors, to the 2-inch lift, Katzkin leather seats, to all-weather mats with a plug system that lets you drain water from the floor, the Gravity exploits every square inch of the Gladiator with purposeful details. Need more lighting? There are four auxiliary switches on every Gladiator where you can plug in whatever you or Mopar can dream up.

4.     Over There


If overlanding is your game, then Jeep’s Wayout concept could have your name on it. Roof tent, check. Bat wing 270-degree awning, check. Margarita bar built into your Decked bed-storage compartments, check. Jeep thought of everything and then some.

Festooned with stickers of dreamy destinations, the Wayout Gladiator demonstrates how self-sufficient the truck can be. Best of all, if you encounter some tough terrain on your journey, the Gladiator is capable of doing some wheeling. With a max 43.3-degree approach angle, a 20.3-degree breakover angle and a departure angle 11-degrees less than the Wrangler Unlimited, the Gladiator can cover a lot of ground.

It’s also got one of the best crawl ratios in the segment at 77/2:1 on the automatic transmission and 84.2:1 on the manual. Get over yourself, Gladiator.

5.     Brap-tastic


One of the Gladiator’s biggest boasts is best-in-class towing. Thanks to the Gladiator having the same 5-coil rear suspension setup that makes the Ram 1500 the beast it is, instead of your Jeep being the toy you wheel all weekend, you can bring more toys with you.

The Flatbill concept removes the rear tailgate and installs two tracks for dirt bikes and a 4-inch lift and 40-inch tires. Add flashy 90s-style motocross graphics and interior materials made from moto jackets and BAM! It’s totally boss. The only thing you’ll have left to tow is your wounded ego after you wipe out on that jump you misjudged.

These amazing rigs notwithstanding, a bone stock Jeep Gladiator with the doors and roof off, driving either on the dirt of Willow Springs Road to Arches National Park or the street heading to Woody’s Tavern on Main, this thing turns the heads of even the most die-hard Jeep fans.

The Gladiator is undeniably a unique looking truck that’s infusing some exciting vitality into a lean midsize pickup truck segment. 

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