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New Jeep Scrambler Tribute Is a Customized Gladiator

Jeep’s Easter Safari to Moab is a pilgrimage of the true off-road faithful. To reward and celebrate this devotion, Jeep often makes special concepts that crawl rocks with the best of them. Some of these are true one-offs, whereas others show off Jeep and Mopar performance parts. This past year, the new Jeep Gladiator was the base for several concepts. One of them, the JT Scrambler, was a throwback to a Jeep pickup from the 80s. One Jeep dealer in Michigan took one look and decided their customers should feel the love. And so, this Jeep Gladiator Scrambler Tribute was born.

Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler Origins

1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
1982 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler | DriveZing

The original Jeep Scrambler wasn’t actually called that. Officially, it was the Jeep CJ-8, a long-wheelbase version of the renowned CJ-7 (the prequel to the Wrangler). As the CJ-7 featured a removable half-cab, that meant the longer CJ-8 could have a built-in pickup bed.

Built from 1981-1986, the CJ-8 was mechanically identical to the CJ-7. That meant true off-road capability, with four-wheel drive, a transfer case, and manual locking front hubs. There was a factory hardtop offered, but a soft-top was standard. Although a three-speed automatic was available, most CJ-8 Scramblers came with four- or five-speed manuals.

And speaking of, that ‘Scrambler’ name was originally only the name of an appearance package. The Scrambler Package featured rad orange and gold stripes along the lower part of the truck’s sides, as well as special wheels. The package was so popular, however, that people just referred to the truck as the CJ-8 Scrambler.

Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler Concept

2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler
2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler | FCA

Visually, the JT Scrambler definitely nailed the homage. White paint with Punk’N Metallic Orange and Nacho (yes, those are real color names) body-stripes? Check. White rear rollbar? Yup. But now there are LED lights attached, illuminating both the cargo area and the road ahead. Brown soft-top? Well, it’s brown, but the Gladiator’s removable roof isn’t soft. The JT Scrambler’s wheels were non-standard, but bronze instead of the original Scrambler’s white.

2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler
2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler | FCA

Unlike the original, the JT Scrambler had a few mechanical mods. A 2” Jeep Performance Parts lift kit, 37” tires, and non-slip rock rails (also from the Jeep Performance Parts catalog). The Gladiator’s 3.6-liter engine was also fitted with a Mopar cold-air intake and cat-back exhaust.

2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler interior
2019 Jeep Gladiator JT Scrambler interior | FCA

Finally, in another departure from the original Scrambler, the Gladiator JT Scrambler had some interior upgrades. The pedals came from Mopar’s bright kit. The seats were brown leather, bordered in orange thread to match the stripes outside. The same leather and thread also covered the dash panel and armrests. All the extra lights were operated from an auxiliary switch bank.

The New Jeep Gladiator Scrambler Tribute

2020 Jeep Gladiator Scrambler Tribute
2020 Jeep Gladiator Scrambler Tribute | Preferred Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram

Props to Grand Haven-based dealer Preferred Jeep for actually sticking closer to the original with their Jeep Gladiator Scrambler Tribute.

No, this truck’s engine has been modified, and the interior isn’t leather. But it’s painted white, and there’s a white rollbar in the bed. It says “SCRAMBLER” on the hood, and there are rad orange & gold stripes down the sides. Even the white wheels are a close match to the ones the CJ-8 wore. And as it’s based on a fully-loaded Gladiator Sport S 4×4, it’s quite a bit better equipped than the CJ-8.

To be fair, there were some modifications. The rollbar is one, as are the KC Highlighter smiley-face off-road lights on it. Like the JT Scrambler, this tribute also has a 2″ Mopar lift kit installed, complete with Fox shocks.

Unlike the JT Scrambler, however, this isn’t a one-off. Preferred Jeep will make as many as are ordered. The retail price of $52,270 is actually fairly reasonable, considering the base truck’s state of trim and the kind of premiums Gladiators are commanding right now.

At the moment, the dealer is only offering the Gladiator Scrambler with the eight-speed automatic. But maybe if you ask nicely, they can make one with a stick.