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Decades before the modern Gladiator truck emerged, Jeep had another pickup: the original Gladiator. But after a few years, Jeep changed its name to the J-Series, with the J10 as the new base model. These days, you can pick up most J10s for less than the cost of a new 2022 Gladiator. But there are a few exceptions—well, besides the restomodded examples. And the Jeep J10 Golden Eagle is one of them.

The J10 was just one of several Jeeps to get the Golden Eagle treatment

A black-and-gold modified 1978 Jeep J10 Golden Eagle in a parking lot
Modified 1978 Jeep J10 Golden Eagle | Mecum

Like every other automaker, Jeep is no stranger to special trims and limited-edition models. In the past year, for example, it’s launched things like the Renegade Islander Edition, the Compass RED Edition, and a host of limited-run Gladiator colors. And this trend was just as prevalent in the 1970s.

Back then, Jeep offered trims like the Chief, Pioneer, and the 10-4 on several of its models, Hagerty reports. And as you might imagine, that last one had something to do with truckers, Silodrome says. Among other things, you got a CB radio with it.

But today, one of the most valuable is the Golden Eagle, which is often associated with the CJ-5. However, the Golden Eagle was also available on several other contemporary Jeep trucks and SUVs at the time. The CJ-5’s successor, the CJ-7, offered it, too. So did the SJ Cherokee, which was based on the contemporary Wagoneer. And the Jeep J10 did, too.

The wings are the things: why Jeep J10 Golden Eagles tend to cost more

The eagle hood graphic on a black-and-gold 1978 Jeep J10 Golden Eagle in a parking lot
1978 Jeep J10 Golden Eagle hood graphic | Mecum

So, what makes the Jeep J10 Golden Eagle different than the regular J-Series Jeep pickup truck? Mechanically, nothing. Regardless of which Jeep model you’re talking about, the Golden Eagle trim is just a graphics package. However, it’s also arguably more special, historically speaking, than, say, just a coat of paint.

The predominant colors on a Golden Eagle Jeep are brown and gold. Its lower side panels have gold stripes with brown ‘Golden Eagle’ decals. The wheels are gold, too. Also, CJ Golden Eagles get additional gold ‘Golden Eagle’ decals on either side of the hood. All Jeeps with this package, though, have a golden eagle graphic proudly emblazoned on the hood. It’s not technically the same ‘Screaming Chicken’ that the Pontiac Trans Am made famous in Smokey and the Bandit. However, it is directly inspired by it, Hagerty explains.

It’s that spread-winged eagle, combined with the brown-and-gold color scheme, that explains this package’s popularity. A Jeep J10 Golden Eagle is like “the best of the ‘70s” all in one pickup truck, Hagerty says. It bears 1970s colors and one of the most iconic symbols of the era. Also, Jeep only sold the J10 Golden Eagle in 1978 and 1979. Combine that with a rising appreciation for classic trucks and SUVs, and you have a corresponding rise in value.

Not to mention a rising presence in nostalgia-baiting. Jeep brought the Golden Eagle package back in 2006 for the last TJ Wrangler model year, Hagerty notes. Also, several dealers and independent shops have started offering Gladiator graphics packages that mimic the 1980s Scrambler.

It’s consistently one of the most valuable J-Series models

A black-and-gold 1976 Jeep J10 Honcho in an industrial parking lot
1976 Jeep J10 Honcho | Jeep

The 2022 Jeep Compass RED Edition Fights Back

Speaking of the Scrambler, it’s another graphics package that adds value to classic Jeeps. And at least where the Jeep J10 is concerned, so does the Honcho. The Jeep J10 Honcho looks somewhat like a Golden Eagle—minus the eagle—but it’s not just a graphics package. It also came with a roll bar and Levi’s interior. Yes, an interior upholstered in Levi’s fabric complete with buttons.

However, even though it added more equipment than the Golden Eagle, the Honcho is still the less valuable J10 trim. That’s likely because while the former is purely a 1970s trim, the latter was available into the 1980s. So, it’s less ‘of an era’ than the Golden Eagle. In addition, it changed somewhat over the years, while the Golden Eagle stayed constant. Also, there’s the J10 Golden Eagle’s rarity to consider.

Admittedly, these trucks used to be fairly affordable. However, in a May 2021 Mecum auction, a 1978 example sold for $66K, more than double the estimated market value, Hagerty says. And since then, values have shot up significantly. Now, even a good-to-excellent-condition example costs about $30,000.

Turns out, the ‘70s are still swinging.

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