1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante

1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante

Reinventing classic American vehicles for the modern world is big business in the bespoke American automotive market today. We get up close and personal with a stunning example of one such crafty creation: the Vigilante 1966 Jeep Gladiator…


Few marques have stood the test of time across the world as well as the ever-celebrated Jeep. While the vintage Jeeps are legendary for incredible presence and styling, the fondly remembered rigs from the 1963-1991 era present challenges when driven on modern-day roads. Enter Vigilante. First founded in 2017 as a pure restoration business, Vigilante now breathes new life into vintage Jeeps such as the company’s new incredibly reimagined 1966 Gladiator custom, artfully blending the vehicle’s original aesthetic with the best in modern technology. Designed as custom commissions, each Vigilante Jeep build is re-engineered to perfection for clients to fully enjoy.

1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante

“Our goal at Vigilante is to breathe new life into a celebrated vehicle from the past, bringing each one into the present, while still delivering an authentic driving experience as first intended. Each Vigilante custom build must reflect the truck’s original authenticity, even with the modern upgrades,” says Vigilante co-founder and CEO Daniel van Doveren.

“Customers feel like they are stepping into a time machine when they get behind the wheel of a Vigilante Jeep. Everything looks and feels like an original Jeep fresh off the dealership floor, yet we’ve created something that can stand toe-to-toe with any modern luxury SUV. Even more impressive is the fact we’re able to do all this without changing the essence of the original vehicle.”

1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante

The new Vigilante Gladiator custom is a classic two-door 1966 truck adorned with a brilliant Empire Blue and off-white exterior. The interior is bedecked in a rich tan leather with Alcantara. Vigilante equipped the Gladiator with a powerful 6.4-litre/390cu in Hemi SRT-8 engine good for 485 horsepower, while power delivery is accomplished via a six-speed heavy-duty Tremec gearbox. Vigilante offers multiple drivetrains, including the incredible performance capabilities of a 707bhp 6.2-litre supercharged Hellcat Hemi, available with either a six-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic.

In an effort to further improve the Gladiator’s road-going handling and overall drivability, a four-link modern suspension with Eibach coil springs was integrated into the rig along with Fox 2.0 dampers to soften travel and tackle almost anything in its path. BAER six-piston calipers dramatically increase stopping power to keep in line with improved engine performance. Large 17x8in wheels further improve braking and performance, while still staying true to Jeep’s legendary proportions and identity.

Representing thousands and thousands of build hours, Vigilante ensured painstaking attention to every detail meticulously and this exacting attention to each rig goes as far as adapting the highly stylised original badging, logos and emblems to offer a unique look.

1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante

For the 1966 Gladiator custom, the company took great care in creating a new, slightly smaller 15in steering wheel with a Vigilante embossed logo made from machined aluminium that provides the owner with a tighter, sportier driving experience. They also developed a gauge cluster that looks stock but is fully modernised, discreetly updating the error lights with electronically controlled gauges that provide accurate readings of battery, voltage and oil pressure.

The new Vigilante 1966 Gladiator custom started with a full 3D scan of the body in order to ensure the body fits on its new platform, including taking the exterior body off and stripping each part for media blasting and prepping it for a complete restoration. This is a critical step to ensure the integrity of the body remains intact when developing the custom chassis. The body is restored using traditional lead loading techniques, with minimal usage of body filler (as on all Vigilante builds). The vehicle then goes through an intensive plasma-based metalising process that protects the body from rusting in the future.

Countless hours went into reverse engineering the vehicle to make the Vigilante Gladiator suitable for modern-day driving. The Gladiator was then repainted by Vigilante. Each classic Jeep body rests on Vigilante’s re-engineered new chassis, with modern suspension and Dana 44 and Dana 60 axles.

1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante - interior

For the interior, the Vigilante Gladiator is further restored to perfection: each interior piece is freshly chromed, painted, powder coated or covered in leather. This ’66 Gladiator features a new old stock analogue clock that is almost impossible to find today. Additionally, the Vigilante logo replaces the original centre hub as a subtle indicator that this Jeep is different. The speedometer is electronically controlled using a GPS-based receiver. All windows and door locks are electric, and the Vigilante Gladiator is even equipped with an invisible Bluetooth receiver powered by a JL Audio amplifier, speakers and two subwoofers, tucked neatly away behind the leather-covered bench seat.

Precision LED headlights are mounted in their original housings for better visibility and the Gladiator’s carpet is made of a natural woven German fibre, while the tailgate is pristinely built to spec. Even the completely rebuilt wing windows were upgraded to take advantage of better seals and offer quieter performance. Other unique details include the upgraded chrome and enamel badges on the front fenders to indicate the Hemi V8 engine and its 392cu in displacement.

Vigilante specialises in full-size vintage Jeep models originally sold between 1963 and 1991, including the Cherokee, Wagoneer and J-Truck (Gladiator) models. With more than 20 years of experience fully restoring more than 50 classic Jeeps via parent company JeepHeritage, Vigilante was launched as a way to maintain the cherished Jeep tradition while incorporating reliable modern drivetrains. The Vigilante builds serve as the next logical step in terms of restomod advancement for vintage Jeeps.

“No other builder understands the deep nuances and history of Jeep at the same level as the Vigilante crew. Our team is pushing the boundaries of what many thought was possible in a Jeep restomod, and that stems from our team’s shared passion for these vehicles,” explains CEO van Doveren. “Over time, our company has become a one-stop solution for all Jeep restoration needs, and we have the ability to rebuild and introduce an entirely new chassis, so our Vigilante customs can accommodate the performance demands of modern powertrains. Our customers are investing in a quality, brand-new driving experience that has all of the fundamental old-school characteristics of the original vehicle. Getting behind the wheel of a Vigilante Jeep makes both driver and passenger feel like they are driving in their living room. These are the special experiences we seek to create for our clients, and it’s the exact type of work that our team takes pride in.”


1966 Jeep Gladiator by Vigilante - engine 485bhp 390cu in Hemi SRT-8 motor. Vigilante describes itself as: “The ultimate classic Jeep, re-engineered on a modern platform”.

485bhp 390cu in Hemi SRT-8 motor. Vigilante describes itself as: “The ultimate classic Jeep, re-engineered on a modern platform”.

Vigilante is based in Johnson City, Texas, about 50 miles west of Austin. Interior features leatherwith Alcantara.

This Jeep started off as a 1966 Jeep Gladiator sourced in Colorado.

Fabulous period interior. Tonka toy tough.

All Vigilante builds start at $295,000. For more information on the Vigilante 1966 Gladiator and to inquire about vintage Jeep custom commissions, please visit the Vigilante website

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