For many Jeep® fans, their prayers were answered this past year when the legendary off-road brand introduced the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator. This came after years of fans, begging the brand to build them a modern-day pickup truck. Both the Jeep® and Mopar brands were known for teasing fans with their crazy concept builds and showing them off during the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. With the Jeep brand pulling out of the Easter Jeep Safari this year and the event being canceled due to the COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) crisis, we figured we would take a look back at one of those popular Jeep pickup concepts from the past.
Rewind to 2012, and the Jeep brand and Mopar roll out six new concept vehicles for the Easter Jeep Safari. Among them is a midsized regular cab pickup, based on a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara (JK). At the time, Mopar had introduced a JK-8 pickup conversion kit for the Jeep Wrangler, the kit was awkward looking and took someone with patience and know-how to install it. What the Jeep team did was take two of those kits, build a proportional pickup using historic retro cues from the iconic Jeep Gladiator pickups of the past.
Using the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as the starting point, the rear of the vehicle’s frame was extended 18-inches, allowing for the Wrangler’s spare tire to be relocated under the new bed floor and making the cargo box a full 6-feet in length (a full foot longer than the new 2020 Jeep Gladiator box).
The exterior was fitted with a custom hood and front fender set modeled after the 1962 to 1971 Jeep Gladiator pickups. The chrome grille, chrome front and rear bumpers, the 36-inch steel-belted remanufactured tires, and 16-inch steel wheels featuring chrome styled hubcaps, even more, harkens the spirit of the original Gladiator pickups.
The Mopar Skunkwerks team added some off-road muscle to the Sahara-based suspension with the addition of a Mopar 3-inch suspension lift kit. A set of Teraflex sway bars controlling ARB air-locker equipped Dynatrac D-44 and D-60 axle assemblies, and a set of FOX off-road shocks also made sure that the J-12 Concept was able to tackle most of what Moab would throw at it.
Inside the cabin, the team gutted the carpeting in favor of a rugged truck bed liner material, the bucket seats were re-crafted into a modern version of a bench seat, which is trimmed in white with a whimsical plaid pattern made from an old jacket. The plaid material was also used in the door armrest as well. An extended shifter lever with a black ball also gave a little retro flavor to the interior.
Under the hood was a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 which delivered which produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque. It remained virtually untouched in its stock Wrangler configuration. It was backed by a W5A580 5-speed automatic transmission and thanks to a Tom Woods custom driveshafts, it could put power to all four wheels via its NV241 Command-Trac® transfer case.
The J-12 showed that the Jeep brand could build an exciting midsized pickup for the masses and lead to enough customer response to inspire the new Gladiator pickup. Now, it seems that Gladiator fans want their new truck to be more like the J-12 Concept and be optioned with a two-door model. Jeep has teased at a two-door model with the introduction of the J6 Concept last year, while others have gone on to build their own two-door models, like our friends at Dynatrac with their CODE-X project.
2012 Jeep® J-12 Concept Pickup Image Gallery: