SEMA 2020: Button Built Gladiator At Toyo Tires Treadpass

Toyo Tires’ famous Treadpass still made a triumphant return for 2020. This year, Toyo hosted Treadpass out in Los Angeles and invited media and influencers to come check out a dozen incredible builds. One of them was this intriguing gunmetal grey Gladiator, built by Mitch Button of Button Built.

While Mitch is better known for crafting unique Ferraris, he decided to take on this off-road build as a challenge. “This was our first attempt at building a normal daily driver,” he said. “Every SEMA, we build something that winds up being a trailer queen. This build was about having something that we could use to get out of L.A. anytime we wanted.”

The Gladiator's rooftop tent is a Thule Tepui tent with telescoping ladder.

Mitch’s off-road background didn’t start with this Gladiator, though. He started collecting military trucks 15 years ago, starting with Unimogs and Pinzgauers, and he was an early adopter of overlanding. “Those trucks really aren’t great at driving on highways,” he joked. “Even though I was into overlanding, they were too big and too slow to really be good options for overlanding. So this Gladiator build was about having something that was functional on top of looking awesome.”

The Gladiator uses 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts. The wheels are KMC beadlocks.

The build kicked off a mere two weeks ago at the time of this writing. Mitch partnered with Voss Automotive Group in Las Vegas to help make the project a reality. In a matter of 10 days, the team turned the stock Gladiator into a badass overlander ready for adventure. “We’re all a little sleepy, but we’re glad we made it,” Mitch commented.

We took a walk around the build as Mitch gave us the rundown. “We’ve got KMC KM233 hex beadlock wheels finished to match the Ferraris,” he said. “The tires are 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts. Metalcloak is essentially the bulk of the aesthetic on the Gladiator besides the paint, so we’re using their side steps, fenders, bumpers, and suspension.”

The suspension in particular was interesting. Here, Mitch installed Metalcloak’s 6Pak shocks, which use four pistons condensed into a wider-than-average body. “These shocks extend the pistons out in the same direction with equal length, in a shock body that’s half the size of a coilover,” he explained. “The articulation is impressive on what you can get out of these.”

The Jeep has plenty of space in the bed for storing gear, air tanks, and fuel. Thanks for a hitch carrier, there's even room for this awesome Rokon motorcycle!

The undercarriage also holds most of the drivetrain upgrades for the Gladiator. “I installed Currie Extreme 60 axles front and rear, and these things are so beefy,” said Mitch. “They’re mated to Adams driveshafts. Those guys built and got the driveshafts to us in about six hours. They’re amazing.”

In keeping with the self-reliance that’s quintessential in overlanding builds, Mitch outfitted the Jeep with all sorts of goodies. On the hood, he installed a Cascadia 4×4 solar panel, as well as the Hi-Lift jack. Nearby, a Rugged Ridge snorkel helps the engine breathe while fording deep water. The doors all feature Metalcloak hinge steps to access to the roof, where Mitch keeps a REBEL Off-Road roof rack to hold a spare tire.

REBEL also made the bed rack, where Baja Designs lights offer illumination and a Thule tent offers a place to sleep. Pelican cases on either side hold gear and essentials. Mounted on the passenger side are MAXTRAX recovery tracks, offering a way out of sticky situations.

Inside the bed, Mitch equipped the Jeep with Power Tank air tanks, RotopaX containers, Pro Eagle jack, and an additional Pelican case. Extending from the rear is a Versahaul hitch holding a grey Rokon motorcycle, which Mitch stated was his favorite motorcycle for off-roading. “They’ve been making these since the late 1950s,” said Mitch. “I love them because I can put fuel or water inside the wheels, or just empty them out and they’ll float on water. They’re incredible.”

Inside, Mitch installed PRP seats and a rear bench seat. He had them upholstered in grey leather to match the color scheme of the build, too. What’s more, Grey Man Tactical MOLLE panels mounted to the front seats offer additional storage space.

For future plans, Mitch wants to install a Ripp supercharger on the engine to help restore lost power from all of the added weight. “I probably will do a V8 or Cummins swap down the line, but getting the V6 to pump out some more power would be great,” he commented.

Mitch plans to take his Gladiator all over the Southwest U.S. “I’d like to go to Big Bear, Mammoth, back to Utah, Colorado, everywhere I can,” he said. One thing’s for sure – wherever Mitch and his Jeep go, he’ll be prepared!

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About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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