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The three Jeep pickups

by David Zatz on

Enthusiasts have been talking about Jeep pickups for years, but often people are referring to three completely different designs. Before speculating further about whether a Jeep pickup is in the works, one should first look at what that’s meant in the relatively recent past:

The original Jeep Gladiator, also known as the “J-series,” was made through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s; it was based on the Wagoneer, and was never a hot seller. The truck had some design advantages over equivalent Chevy, Ford, and Dodge pickups, but it never seemed to be a compelling purchase, especially in the days before 4x4s were “hot.”

More recently — since 2006, at least — the name “Gladiator” has more associated with a Ram-based concept, and with a vehicle driven onto the stage in a private dealers’ meeting a few years ago (which might have been the 2006 concept, repainted and perhaps altered somewhat).

A second Jeep pickup was the Comanche, based on the original XJ Cherokee; it was highly competitive, without many of the disadvantages of its competitors, but sold slowly (average annual sales of the Comanche were 23,806, with a peak of 43,718, in 1988).

Finally, there are Scrambler and J8, “standard Jeeps” (CJ and Wrangler) turned into pickups.  AEV makes a custom vehicle called the Brute which is the same idea, only done by the aftermarket rather than the factory. (AEV even has a four-door “double cab” version.)

Most Jeep-pickup enthusiasts are probably thinking of the Scrambler or J8 when they call for a Jeep-based pickup (which is one reason for calls to expand the Toledo plant where Wranglers are made). However, watching on-line discussions, many seem to be co-mingling Comanche and Gladiator with their desires, which may be confusing to outsiders and, for that matter, insiders.

Product planners at Jeep have to separate out those who want any Jeep pickup from those who want a Gladiator but not a Scrambler (etc.) to figure out if there’s enough demand to merit the expense.

Despite the lack of a Scrambler on the five year plan, one may be in the works; over the years, there have been many hints, but no promises, about expanding the Wrangler line and delivering a pickup. Allpar will explore the viability Jeep pickups in the conclusion to this segment, coming soon.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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