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The Jeep Gladiator has resurfaced after decades of living in obscurity. Now that the Jeep Wrangler-based truck is here again and fairly common, the original Gladiator is ready to come back to reclaim some long-forgotten clout. While most old Gladiators are sitting in fields rusted through, this Hemi-powered 1966 Jeep Gladiator restomod is ready to eat the 2022 Jeep Gladiator for lunch. 

1966 Jeep Gladiator restomod
1966 Jeep Gladiator | Vigilante 4×4

When did the first Jeep Gladiator come out? 

The first Gladiator came out in 1963. Originally, the Gladiator had nothing to do with the Jeep CJs (the Wrangler equivalent of the day). They were based on the Jeep Wagoneer. Very similar to the current Gladiators, the original version shared the front end and powertrain of the Wagoneer. 

Restomod 1966 Jeep Gladiator

The restomod Gladiator seen here is a 1966 model built by the folks at Vigilante 4×4. I dare say no other restomod market is as popular as the pickup truck and SUV restomod market. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of vintage truck builders today putting huge motors, modern suspension, and 4×4 drivelines in vintage pickup trucks. 

Vigilante 4×4 is a Jeep tuning company that really put its foot in this one. This ‘66 Gladiator looks like a nicely restored, yet fairly standard, Jeep Gladiator at first glance. A deeper look shows a true wolf in sheep’s clothing. This one has been set up with a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi making 707 hp. According to Motor1, all that power gets sent to all four wheels by either a 6-speed manual or a four-speed auto. For comparison, the 2022 Jeep Gladiator, in its most evolved form, makes 285 hp. 

You can’t just put a big motor in a vintage pickup truck

The key to a good restomod isn’t just slapping a huge motor in an old car. Many other updates need to happen to make the would-be Christine not immediately kill its driver. Vigilante 4×4, along with the Hemi, installed a new four-link suspension with Eibach coil springs and Fox 2.0 dampers, allowing the pilot to control the monster truck. With all that power also must come new braking power, which now comes from six-piston Baer calipers behind 17-inch wheels. 

How much do these restomod trucks cost? 

This 1966 Jeep Gladiator restomod is a far cry from the 2022 Jeep Gladiator
1966 Jeep Gladiator restomod | Vigilante 4×4

Before we make you sad with the insane price tag on the ‘66 Gladiator, a fully loaded 2022 Jeep Gladiator starts at $52,445. However, there are still plenty of options to add to that, raising the cost. But there is nothing on God’s green Earth you can do to make the 2022 Gladiator come even close to this restomod ‘66. Vigilante 4×4’s starting price for the Hemi-powered ‘66 Gladiator is a cool $295,000. The builder is upfront about the fact that this is only a starting price. Buyers can easily option a truck to cost far more. 

So, while this old dog would completely destroy a 2022 Gladiator, you could buy a fleet of newer ones for the same price.