Military Gladiator: 1968 Kaiser Jeep M715

1968 Kaiser Jeep M715

This cool looking rig is the military version of the Jeep Gladiator pickup. Quite a few were built before the military started using Dodges, but they seem to be a rare sight today. Well, at least around here. They must have been decent trucks because Kia is still producing something similar for use in South Korea! This one is here in the States and although ratty, could make for a fun rough and tumble project. It’s located in Watertown, Massachusetts and is listed here on eBay where bidding is at $2,500 with only a few hours left!

Tornado Inline Six

The big inline-six found under the hood may not have been the most reliable engine ever installed into a military vehicle, but the seller believes that this one should run again without much effort. The fuel and brake systems will need to be gone through before it can be driven though. I’d assume some wiring work may also be needed here, but these were pretty simple so it should be too difficult to do. These were based on the Gladiator, but I’m not really sure how many of the parts actually interchange. Anyone here have any experience with these?

Jeep Interior

The inside is pretty rough, but nothing that some seat covers and spray paint couldn’t fix. There are a couple of rust spots in the floor that could use a patch though while you’re in there. The frame is claimed to be solid and that’s the area you really need to worry about. I’m sure there are guys who would like to restore this thing, but personally, I’d want to keep the ratty look and just make it as pleasant to drive as possible.

Big Winch

Not that it was every very pleasant to drive. These trucks were built to work and that’s exactly what it should do today. This pickup could be used for lots of different activities. Chores around the farm, dump runs, and back country expeditions would all be its forte. There’s already a winch spotlights out front, so why not build an off-roader? The seller isn’t sure if the winch is any good, but it does provide inspiration of what it could become. I’m sure it would garner some respect if you showed up at Moab with this 4×4! What would you do with it?

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Comments

  1. Richard

    These actually came in use AFTER the dodge wc series and after the dodge m37. Late 1960s.
    And, YES- the tornado motor pretty much sucks; having been discontinued in the civilian models before being used in the m715-725 trucks.

    • Dave Wright

      He was referring to the Dodge M880’s that came after these.

    • Dave Wright

      The only real problem I ever had with the Willies 230 OHC engine was the first time I did a tune up on one……it took me a while to figure out the distributor turned counter clockwise. The darn thing would run……poorly…….timed clockwise. Once I figured that out, all was well.

  2. Dave Wright

    I have probably owned more of these than any individual around. At least a couple of hundred of them. Started buying them in 1976 and sold my last one a couple of years ago. Used to buy them by the dozen when the California Department of the forestry surplused them. These are great trucks, the army replaced them early mostly because the mechanics did not know enough to limit the torque on the cam covers. They had a reuseable rubber gasket and if tightened too much they cut. Then leaked oil badly down the sides of the block. This was the first military truck that would really do highway speeds, it is easy to get most parts for as it liberally used standard off the shelf components. Daina 60/70 axles, T98 4 speed trans, divorced transfer case, the differences in the engine from the civilian one are mostly the 24V ignition system. The waterproof plugs, wired and distributor cap can be difficult. The brake drums are also military specific. I saw this truck come on sale and if it was closer, I would buy it. I sold my last one……looked better than this one……for 5500.00 I bought it from a school district in Utah. My buddy still uses one on his ranch that he wouldn’t sell for anything. Also a small block Chev is a dirrect bolt in if you want more power. These are far superior to the older Dodge M37/43 series trucks, they have more power, are faster and better parts availablity while retaining the military flavor.

    Like 1
  3. Dan

    @Dave, do you have any 230 Tornados (or parts) still?

  4. Matt Tritt

    We had the civvie version as our company truck in the late 60’s. The serious flaw for offraoding that WE discovered is an issue with the rear main seal, which will leak like a proverbial seive if the vehicle is going up a very steep slope. Quick way to destroy an otherwise fine engine.

  5. Tony S

    The ski club our fam belonged to in the late ’70s/early ’80s had a few of these from surplus. They were incredibly beasty. They weren’t licensed for road use but they were pretty much unstoppable – pulled huge tree stumps straight out of the ground.

    Not sure about reliability but the cylinder head looks like a good design, architecturally at least.

  6. Jubjub

    I was discussing with someone the other day that someone like Kia should come out with a basic cheap truck. Wondering what they sold that passed for pickup in other parts of the world I came across this.

    http://military.kia.com/en/kia/vehicles/km45-series/km450-cargo-truck.do#.V6KTH1T3bCQ

    Wasn’t really the answer I was looking for but cool nonetheless.

  7. Matt Tritt

    Looks like Kia could have used some of the same bits and pieces. It’d be nifty if they sold those here.

  8. Hitman

    http://military.kia.com/en/kia/vehicles/km45-series/km452-shop-van.do Look at the gallery pics, damn things nearly identical. Not too shabby for a 50 year old design!

    Saw this poor truck when I was holidaying on the Spanish Isle of Tenerife. I think it is an American Ford. Nothing ever seems to leave the island, it just rusts away.

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