2020 Jeep Gladiator Overland: Wants vs needs

“As a car and truck nut, I filed away every detail about that Jeep. I still remember the distinct smell of that interior and the sounds it made as we bounced along the dirt road to the dump. Seatbelts? We didn’t need those. It was the ’70s!”So, like Citizen Kane and Rosebud, Stewart was launched on a lifelong quest for a J200 of his own. He found it 10 years ago, the one you see here.His perfectly preserved and highly modified—maybe even resto-modified—Gladiator highlights the distinct differences not only in the two trucks themselves, but in the buyers for whom each model was intended. Stewart recognizes the almost-agricultural duty and design his 1964 Jeep offered. It was a work truck, a farm implement, something used to feed cattle in the high-mountain pasture in the summer, or … haul food scraps to the bears in the forest. It featured none of the luxury appointments that would be slathered onto its modern descendant. It was, in its stock form, dangerous and scary to drive in our modern world, with its high-speed freeways and texting drivers.“The clunky drivetrain, weak brakes and laborious steering worked OK around town, but it didn’t like speeds above 50 mph,” Stewart said of his J200 as it was when he got it. “So after one sketchy morning adventure, I decided Los Angeles freeways were no place for my Gladiator. That really limited its usefulness.”He wanted something with the old truck’s character, but with a new truck’s modern drivetrain, brakes and safer handling.So he took it over to Legacy Classic Trucks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a drivetrain upgrade. Specifically: “A modern EFI 5.7-liter V8 Hemi crate engine was sourced, and Legacy found a fun air cleaner with ‘Four Barrel’ on the cover to keep it looking old-school. The Hemi is mated to a heavy-duty NV 4500 five-speed manual, a transmission used in Dodge heavy-duty pickups back in the 1990s. It uses a nice, low 5.61:1 first gear that when paired to the Atlas transfer case with 3.8:1 low range provides turtle-like off-road crawling. In the rear, there’s a custom Dynatrac Dana 60 axle with beefy 1.5-inch, 35-spline shafts. A Dynatrac Dana 44 axle rides up front. Both axles have disc brakes, 3.73:1 gears and are loaded with Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differentials.”He had created the best of both worlds.