I AM GLADIATOR

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Rarely in life are we presented with the opportunity to redo something. There aren’t mulligans in real life. There are often not second chances. Furthermore, the ability to build on top of a previous achievement and push it closer to, not necessarily perfection, but at least a closer fulfillment of its true potential is something I think every individual hopes to be able to obtain. Interestingly enough, we here at Maximum Elevation Off-Road in good ‘ol Paris, Tx. are in the midst of that highly sought after opportunity. Let’s go back a year. 

We dove in head first to the pool of Jeep Gladiator customization right when they hit the showroom floors. Phenomenal vehicles on and off road, especially in the Rubicon platform. Tons of heritage. Mechanically sound. And they even have a truck bed. It had been years, decades since Jeep had released a “Jeep truck” and when they did it was a huge hit for obvious reasons. We saw that thing and said we can make it even better. And we did. Specifically, we got our hands on a 2020 Gladiator Rubicon (JTR) in the Gobi paint and proceeded to perform some enhancements.

We started with the suspension. Although the Fox shocks from the factory are outstanding we felt we needed more. Much more. In comes the King Shocks Triple Bypass front shocks and coilover setup. Can we get a pic below to show you this monster? Now can we get an amen for the engineering gods who fathomed such sleek space-aged sexy mama? Amen. Please be seated. We built it as an overland setup originally, tough enough to tackle whatever the trails threw at it. 37” Goodyear Wrangler MTR’s gave us all of the traction and the accompanying Black Rhino beadlock wheels kept this thing capable in any terrain. 

The business in the back was comprised of a Decked in bed storage system WITH A BEDSLIDE ON TOP! Who does that? That’s genius. On the second story if you will we had a mid-height bed rack from Evo Manufacturing topped off with a roof top tent (RTT if you’re cool) from Tuff Stuff Overland. At this point it’s impossible to not mention what gave this rig it’s biggest aesthetic upgrade. That would be the complete bumper and fender package from Bodyguard Truck Accessories. You’ll notice on some of our other higher profile builds that this is kind of our thing.

LED lighting from Diode Dynamics made sure this JTR would never be in the dark. Psychotically bright is how some folks have described them. What else? The steps! Motherflippen Rock Slide Engineering steps. They’re rock sliders that also have a deployable step that activates when the doors open and close. Literally the best of both worlds. 

That’s a ton of accessories and equipment, right? What more could we do to this you ask? Well we obviously had to turn the dial to 11. The first box we had to check was horsepower. In comes the Bruiser Conversions 6.2L LS3. The staff here at MEO all agree that every Jeep needs a V8. This engine runs great, tons of power, straight forward installation (this was our seventh install) and did I mention the power? Right around 500 horses are placed neatly under the hood and they love to run.

To handle all this additional power the stock axles had to go. Now coming to the stage from Dana Spicer we have the front and rear Dana 60 Ultimate crate axles. Complete with electronic lockers and 5.13 ring and pinion (gears). Break something on these axles, I frickin dare you to try. In the biz we refer to them as “tons” due to their more common uses in one ton trucks. Heavy duty is an understatement. 

Now that we have a Jeep Gladiator with 8 lug axles we have to get new 8 lug wheels. Matte bronze Fuel Off-Road Zephyr wheels in a 20×10 fit the bill perfectly. Wrapping those bronze beauties are the Pitbull Rockers in 41.50×13.50R20, and great googly moogly they are aggressive. And they are a sight to behold when they get into rough terrain. They wrap around obstacles like a glove. The sidewall bites hard and they are tough enough to handle tons of abuse. But even after all of that we weren’t quite done. Can we get a picture dropped in so you can pick up what I’m throwing down? Boom, custom retro graphics. How cool is that? It really ties the room together as The Dude would say. They perfectly give this truck a touch of the heritage it was born from. Look at that tailgate! 

So there it is. We had the chance to go a little further, push a little harder, think with a bit more creativity. Everyone here at MEO is super proud of the final product of this project and it wouldn’t have been accomplished without a combined effort from the whole team. There was a very tight deadline to wrap up the additional upgrades but everyone busted ass and got it done ahead of schedule. Good job guys! Alright readers, this is where I leave you. Remember, a second chance at excellence doesn’t come around often, so on the rare occasion that it does you better give it hell and leave everything you have on the shop floor so to speak. K love you bye.

JR

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