By Jon Maib
It's been about a year since Jeep released the Launch Edition Gladiator to the public. The 4,190 Launch Editions sold out in record time to many off-road industry leaders and Jeep fans. The problem was, Jeep took longer than expected to get the Launch Editions shipped to the dealerships and were often beat by the lower Sport and Rubicon models. So those that were impatiently waiting for their Launch Edition Gladiator, began settlling for whatever the dealer had on the lot instead of waiting. That meant that many Launch Edition Gladiators ended sitting on a dealer lot when they came in, waiting for a new buyer.

That was the case of our buddy Jon. When he heard that Jeep was coming out with a truck model, he went to check them out. Jon has never been a Jeep guy or thought about going off-road, but he was intrigued by the new Jeep Gladiator and managed to find one of those Launch Editions sitting on the lot. He knew he had to have it, and he walked away with his first Jeep, a Launch Edition Gladiator:

Jon's first order of business was to join me at a local Jeep meet on a Saturday morning. After that, he automatically knew that he wanted to add larger tires. We all know what happens when we add larger tires; we realize we need a lift! So Jon reached out to me and began asking who to look at for lifts. I gave him a few companies to research and allowed him to choose the one he thought was best and Jon had decided to go with the 3.5" Skyjacker dual rate long travel lift (G351RKMLT). So we reached out to Skyjacker, ordered the lift and Jon had them also add their new dual stabalizer kit to his order.

Installing the Skyjacker kit was pretty straightforward despite this being our first Gladiator to work on. The lift was done in my garage with standard tools, so install was pretty easy. We started with the rear suspension as it tends to be a bit easier to do. Jon was insistant on doing a lot of the work because he wanted to understand what was happening and just wanted to get his hands dirty (I have a lot of respect for that).

Front installation tends to be a bit more involved as you have to deal with all the stearing linkage and we also were replacing the lower control arms with the new heavy duty Skyjacker ones. We just followed the detailed Skyjacker directions and got everything installed.

Once the Skyjacker 3.5" kit was installed, we went back and ensured everything was tight and that we didn't miss anything. While inspecting, we noticed that the front springs seemed to be bowing out. Unsure what was causing this, we contacted Skyjacker and they had told us that if we installed the upper spring isolator wrong, that could cause the issue. The isolator has two little 'nipples' on it that go into small holes on the spring pearch and if those don't go in properly, they can cause the spring to bow. We removed the springs and sure enough, one side was not seated properly. Once we corrected the problem, it did take a lot of the bow out of the spring, but we still noticed a bit of bowing. Reaching out to Skyjacker, they decided to research the issue a bit further on their side and had found that there had been some 'shifting' in the concentricity of the upper pigtail on the front springs. They provided these details to their spring manufacturer and had new samples sent for testing which resolved the issue. Skyjacker sent us a new set of springs, we installed them and everything looked great. Talk about some seriously GREAT customer service!

With completion of the lift, Jon knew that he and his wife were going to struggle getting in and out of the Gladiator now, so he began the search for some steps. Knowing that he would be doing some off-roading, he wanted something that would tuck up close to the truck and provide some protection from rocks. Naturally, Jon landed on the Rockslide Engineering brand new Gladiator steps. These steps have been proven over and over (including on our own project Swampcat). Jon didn't just settle on their standard steps, he also had them throw in the protective rocksliders to ensure maximum protection to his truck. These rocksliders give a clean look to the truck while providing maximum protection.

Jon has added many other upgrades to his Launch Edition and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. It's been fun to watch not only the truck's transformation, but Jon's as well. He uses it as his daily driver, has been taking it wheelin' and goes to all kinds of Jeep meets now. These two have become one and we look forward to see what Jon does next, so stay tuned!

Special thanks to