Quadratec builds the two-door Gladiator that Jeep won’t
The Gladiator pickup has been a big success for the Jeep brand, but there are always those customers sitting on the fence, wishing that their favorite off-road marque had done things differently.
The common lament is that the Gladiator should have been offered as a two-door truck, with a longer bed. Anyone who’s been paying attention to pickup sales knows that such “regular” cabs aren’t in high demand and that four-door, “crew cab” models are the real moneymakers. Of course, that’s no consolation for the avid off-roader, who wants a solid-axle, open-bed rig in that just-right size.
Enter Jeep parts manufacturer Quadratec, who pours more fuel on the debate with its “JTe” build at SEMA 2022.
We spoke with Ted Wentz, CEO of Quadratec, to learn how the project got off the ground.
“We typically don’t start with a vehicle,” he says, “we start with a concept that is a bit bigger than a vehicle.”
Quadratec’s concept was to clean up trails all across the country, improving not only the paths’ beauty but also the reputation of off-roaders. Quadratec’s 50-for-50 initiative that it’s working on with Tread Lightly! will host a trail cleanup in each of the 50 U.S. states over the next 18 months or so. Twelve cleanups have been held so far, with more than 350 miles of trail cleaned and more than 17,000 pounds of trash removed.
“We knew electrification was going to be a big deal at SEMA this year,” Wentz says. So, his company thought: “Let’s come up with a vehicle build that can not only be involved but embodies the spirit of that.”
A Wrangler Unlimited 4xe, the hybrid model, seemed the logical jumping-off point. Among other reasons, Wentz said the powertrain appealed to his team because of its incredible torque (470 lb-ft) and responsiveness. Quadratec enlisted Jeep fabricator Greg Henderson at Unofficial Use Only, to make it into a more capable trial-cleanup rig. Henderson shortened the cab, ditching the rear doors in the process, and lengthened the frame behind the axle to fit a Gladiator bed on the back. To make up for the shorter cab, the bed was stretched about 10 inches; it now measures 6.5 feet, matching the “short bed” on a traditional pickup. That gives it a relatively short wheelbase for on-trail maneuverability while also increasing the Gladiator’s capacity to haul cargo.
The JTe now rides on 37-inch Nitto Recon Grappler tires on bronze 17-inch Lynx TrailGunner wheels thanks to a Lynx 2.5-inch lift. Up front, Quadratec added one of its off-the-shelf Carnivore front bumpers and a RES-Q Winch. You’ll spot a matching bumper and winch out back; Quadratec had to customize a bit to fit the stretched chassis. That rear-mounted winch gives the JTe even more ways to clean up the trail and drag out trash—which, according to Wentz, can be anything.
“It’s tires, cars, pallets, bottles. . . It’s amazing what you’ll find on the trials, and it’s disheartening. I don’t believe the off-road community is dumping this stuff out there, but we’ll certainly get blamed for it. So we’re there to clean it up and get it out of there.”
If you want to join in on a trial cleanup or nominate a trail near you, Quadratec and TreadLightly! can help. As for getting a JTe of your own, you can try to petition Jeep, but we wouldn’t bet on it hitting production anytime soon. However, there’s nothing keeping you from going Quadratec’s route and building one of your own.