I hate to call this 7-seater Jeep Gladiator a “minivan,” but it IS one hell of a big, serious and awesome family off-road machine!
Craig, and the guys from Bolden (Boldengear.com), built the 7-seat Jeep Gladiator. Bolden makes adventure gear products (audio, storage, power – etc.) and they wanted a cool, unique 4×4 as a backdrop to showcase their products. Initially, before the official announcement of the production Jeep Wagoneer, Craig and his team named the project “Wagoneer.” Craig has a family with a bunch of kids, so he felt like he wanted to build something that could hold his (rather sizeable) family.
He began with a Jeep Gladiator Rubicon with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. From there, he and his team began the process of building up the vehicle. One of the first things they did was a full suspension flex test. After loading the Gladiator up with wood, they jacked it up until they lifted a front wheel. Once that occurred, they noticed a 1/8th inch of flex – which isn’t very much.
Next, after sourcing a wrecked 2019 Sahara JL, Craig had the platform with its roll-cage sent to him. Building up the 7-seat Jeep Gladiator, they wanted to keep all occupants safe, and increase rigidity. They added the roll cage from the ’19 JL to the back end of the Gladiator, and the (third row) back seat also came out of a 2019 JL.
Keeping the Gladiator’s original rear bulkhead, Craig opted to add extra bent steel throughout the roll cages which aided rigidity and structural integrity. While it’s difficult for an adult to fit through the second-row opening, or enter through the rear loading area, his kids have no problem fitting.
To create the special, fully removable roof, Craig ordered a Jeep Wrangler 4-door hardtop, cut it in half, and added extra material to keep the esthetic. He did add a “flex zone” which maintains the division between the cab and bed, despite the fact there is very little flex. Inspired by older Land Rover Defenders, the team created a stepped roof to accommodate the stadium seating style.
Craig and his team ordered a specially laser-cut glass for some components, but, for the most part, Craig and his crew wanted the look to appear OEM. That’s one of the reasons things like the rear folding glass (from the Wrangler’s cut roof) look like it totally belongs there.
Check out this video for more details!