“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Who does not remember this line, spitted out by Russel Crowe to Joaquin Phoenix in one of the final scenes from the movie Gladiator (2000) by Ridley Scott? This line to me, as well as the entire movie, is one of the best the modern cinema industry has ever made. So, when Jeep introduced the Gladiator, the first pick-up of the brand in years, based on the legendary Jeep Wrangler tracing its routes back to the original US Army Willy’s, everyone in America was craving for one. Pick-ups are nothing special really in the United States, but the Gladiator? Everybody wanted one. At the time, Greta Thunberg and all her eco-friendly stuff was just a blur. So I did not really pay much attention to it. Text: Mickael B. Photos: Hennessey ©

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus
The Maximus fights on every surface – with 1000 horsepower and heavy duty offroad elements everywhere, it’s easy!

Two years later, and we are in the middle of the Greta glory (and Covid-19, in case you did not notice). I sincerely apologize if this post sounds very political, but at some point we have to put the finger where it hurts. I would not say I have a big eco-friendly mindset, but the Greta effect on people and its consequences, I believe will be even worse for the environment than doing nothing. Why? Because people and companies are now rushing into what they think are environmentally friendly solution, but aren’t at all. And this is based on facts. Let’s take a look at electric cars. We know that the recycling of batteries is non existent and will generate an issue in how the end of life of these batteries is managed. Then, the electricity itself these cars are using, which, thanks to environmentalists who did not keep in mind the end focus, is now issued from coal, instead of nuclear energy, which would have left a smaller carbon footprint. Should we continue? How about solar panels? The production of those is simply the most pollutant manufacturing process there is. Wind energy? Efficiency of less than 50% at best, and destroying bird’s wildlife. Oh, and as it turns out, no more pets. Yes indeed, recent studies have proven pets can be actually twice more damaging to the environments than an average SUV.

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus
Premium leather, custom stitching and badges, this is what you get in a 225’000 $ custom-built Jeep Gladiator.
Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus
The interior of the Maximus comes with premium leather and stitching, but doors can still be easily removed.

All I am saying is: let’s take time to think and invest about the real solutions, on the whole lifecycle of the products. Hydrogen for cars. Nuclear fusion energy. Locally built products. Less meat consumption. This is even more true, as the Covid-19 situation is proving that the ultra globalisation some companies have done in the past decades is devastating for their people, and their economy in a very simple pandemic case such as the one we are living right now. And where does the brand new Hennessey Gladiator Maximus comes in? Well, very simple. How unreasonably absurd would it be to launch a 6.2 liter supercharged V8, 1000 horsepower, heavily modified Jeep Gladiator? You would have to be nuts, right? Only John Hennessey and his crazy team out of Texas (their workshop is close to Houston) could do it. And they did. The texan tuner, mostly famous for his Venom GT, a Corvette-engined modified Lotus Elise with over 1200 horsepower, decided to repeat the Velociraptor exercise, but on the new Gladiator. Oh, and you better rush to get one, as only 24 units will ever be produced.

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus
Even with the doors off, the Maximus has the looks. Afraid, yet?

“What exactly is the Velociraptor?” you might be wondering. John Hennessey did not find a dinosaur fossil, neither did he found a miracle stone in his Lonestar Motorsports Park to resuscitate the million year old beasts from Jurassic Park. Sorry for all of you who were archeologists looking for a new work-at-home occupation during this quarantine time. What Hennessey did, back in 2013, was take a “standard” Ford SVT Raptor – yes, the already very special Sports Version of america’s favorite pick-up truck, I nominate, the Ford F150 – and decided it was not so special at all. Swap a 2.9 liter supercharger on top of the stock 6.2 liter V8.

Wait a second, let’s read that again. Yes, 2.9 liter. A supercharger the size of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s engine. Tweak it until you get 650 horsepower (probably quite easy, given the size of the blower you just put on it). Replace a bunch of custom parts: new intercooler, fuel injectors, air induction, chassis and interior upgrades, and you ended up with the coolest pick-up truck on the market. And you had to be very lucky to get one, as they only sold 30 units per year. So, very exclusive, too.

2013 Ford F-150 SVT Hennessey Velociraptor
The first Velociraptor by Hennessey, based on the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

A bit of Hennessey history

Now, of course, they did several upgrades throughout the years, adding more horsepower, and improving the mighty pick-up every time, but there is one upgrade, that I am very grateful they did. See, in 2015, Ford introduced the thirteenth generation of the F-150, which looked fantastic. Although, when they launched its new Raptor version, all of us petrolheads were outrageously disappointed. Adios the V8, hello Ecoboost 6 cylinder engine. Thanks, but no thanks. Luckily, John Hennessey was here to save us all, once again. Swap the 6, put back the 5.0 Liter Ford V8, add the same (but tweaked with higher boost) 2.9 liter supercharger, and off you go, as if nothing had happened. Erase all the bad memories, forget the awful sound, Texas best’s comes to the rescue. And, if 4 wheels wasn’t enough for you, as it seemed it wasn’t for several Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon owners, John offered a 6 wheeled version. With power ranging from 600 to 800-plus horsepower, you wouldn’t get a chance to be bored. Best thing is, for all of you eco-green-environmentalists, the Texan tuner even offered a version with the stock Ecoboost engine, with just a slight turbo tuning bringing power to (barely acceptable) 600 horsepower from the stock 450 output. Perfect for all of you who think that by decreasing their fuel consumption, they will save the world.

2018 Ford F-150 SVT Hennessey Velociraptor 6x6
The Velociraptor 6×6, with up to 800-plus horsepower.

So, that’s it for the Velociraptor, because we haven’t even talked yet about the Gladiator. You can imagine that given the extent of modifications Hennessey did on the Velociraptor, the result on a stock Jeep Gladiator would be rather impressive. The texan tuner had never really begun tuning Jeeps, I think mainly due to one reason: the over-abundance of Jeep specialists and tuning shops in the United States, making the market very fierce and competitive. Just in Texas, look at Dennis Collins, the other well-known Jeep specialist, and you will understand what I am talking about. Since then though, John and his team added another vehicle from the legendary military brand to their atelier. A very “simple” and “considerate” 1000 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which is simply the fastest SUV in the world (even with a Christmas tree on top), with numbers to back it up: 2.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, quarter mile (400 meters standing still start) in 10.2 seconds at 214 km/h. The interesting fact for us, is that the Gladiator Maximus packs the same engine than Hennessey’s Trackhawk.

The fastest Christmas tree on earth, courtesy of Hennessey’s 1000 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Let’s have a look at this engine, shall we? It starts its life as a stock Hellcat 6.2 liter supercharged V8, developing a mere 700 horsepower. You can see the scheme here that I really appreciate as well with John’s choice of engines. Keep it within the brand or the group. I don’t recall any swap from Hennessey between Chevrolet and Ford, or between General Motors engines and Fiat Chrysler Automotive, for instance, but if you know of any, I would be curious. That is a point I value because your Jeep (whether Maximus or Trackhawk) remains a Jeep at heart, and the same goes with the Velociraptor as they remain with Ford engines. Next up with this engine: modify the supercharger with custom pulleys, both upper and lower. Upgrade the fuel injectors, the exhaust system, wiring, radiator and fuel system. Fine-tune the lot with a specific ECU, and you get the 1012 horsepower and 1314 Nm final output from this mega-engine.

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus engine
The heart of the Hennessey Gladiator Maximus remains an FCA, MOPAR issued engine, normally seen on Dodge’s Hellcats models, but with 1000+ horsepower here.

For the rest, the texan tuner starts with a stock Gladiator Rubicon (the highest trim level available) and as it’s a well known fact that Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators have very limited off-road capabilities (LOL), they basically swap everything for heavy-duty off-road elements, such as axles, driveshafts, differentials, suspension, brakes, tires and wheels. Finally put custom bumpers, badges, premium leather and stitching, and you end up with a 225000 $ fully capable off-road monster (which includes the base vehicle), a Gladiator capable of crushing down any enemy the wild arena might throw at him. A Gladiator named Maximus. A leader with no boundaries, that could perform as much on a racetrack doing drag races as well as in the wild, fighting mud and the elements of nature. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” The Gladiator Maximus is our commander to all of us petrolheads, and a statement that we make to our environmentalist friends, that we will have our vengeance, in this life or the next, for all the other ones who died, our murdered big displacement engines which all died in their hands when they thought destroying them for smaller turbocharged engines was going to save the empire. This is my message to them: it’s the wrong empire and the wrong emperor you are trying to save. May the Gladiator Maximus fight until its last breath, until its last stroke from its magnificent supercharged 6.2 litre V8, for the glory of the automobile!

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus
Even while just cruising, the Gladiator Maximus is as impressive as it can get.

And thank you so much John Hennessey. Thank you and your crazy team for showing the world the path we all though was lost, for reminding us what cars should be. Thank you!

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus

Jeep Gladiator Hennessey Maximus