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Who doesn’t want to escape from their day-to-day life now and then? Head for higher ground where your cell phone doesn’t reach and the view stretches for miles. Sure we slog through traffic to a local park now and then to get a taste of the great outdoors, but if new cracker-box houses are the backdrop for your outdoor adventure, you’re not going far enough.

What if you had an ultra-capable off-road vehicle that could carry your gear way off the beaten path, beyond the hum of the interstate, outside of cell phone reception and past the picnic tables? The place I’m talking about is where your Pawnee Ranger training becomes very useful, along with 4WD, torque and preparedness. Enter Tony and Troy, friends, off-road aficionados, co-founders of the RoamR Project and the driving force behind this wild Jeep Gladiator. The game plan when dreaming up this rig was to create a self-contained exploration machine that could be driven out to the far reaches of the desert and camped in.

Starting with a 1974 Jeep J20, Castle Fabrication chopped nearly 14” from the back for added maneuverability on the trails not to mention a shorter rear overhang to match the front. The chassis was converted from leaves to coils from Metalcloak, lifting it six inches in the process. Now running Metalcloak shocks, the stock Dana 44 and D600 axles have been updated to handle the rigors of hardcore wheeling with Yukon gears and lockers. BJ’s Off-Road came through with a front disc brake conversion as well as a hydro-boost package to ensure full braking power regardless of engine vacuum.

The AMC 401 powerplant was freshened up and topped with a Holley Terminator EFI system and is cooled by a Be Cool aluminum radiator so large the stock unit looks like a piece of toast in comparison. The original three-speed transmission was deemed up to the task once the burly Tom Wood driveshafts were in place.

The interior of the Gladiator rocks a stock dashboard that’s been tuned up with some welcome upgrades. First and foremost is the direct-fit Dakota Digital VHX instrument system. You may not have known that we dabble in the 4WD world, but this J20 is proof! Kicker Audio components are scattered throughout. When it came to seating, the stock chairs were retained but recovered with black leather in a diamond pattern. Perhaps the biggest story of the “Tomahawk” J20 is what’s happening up top. There’s a Freespirit Recreation roof top tent mounted to a Leitner active cargo system. Combined with a Rhino Rack over-cab rack with awning, this incredible system is perched above a Wilco tire carrier and allows for a safe, dry and exhilarating night’s sleep. What’s more, the DECKED truck bed storage system keeps all the adventure gear organized in drawers. Find the best view overlooking the natural wonder of your choice, bust out the ladder and climb up to your lofted bed, away from desert critters and the lumpy ground.

RoamR’s Tomahawk debuted at the SEMA show in Las Vegas back in November 2017 and has been turning tires and heads all over the western-half of the country since. It’s setting a new standard for overland treks and camping gear. Is this J20 the best vehicle out there for those who really want to get away from it all?


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