When designing a car, having a big pile of already made parts is one of those powers that comes with some responsibility. It’s super easy and cheap to take a part from an existing car that has already been designed and tested, and stick it in a new car. You know it works and you don’t have to spend time and money developing a new one. That is until you go too far and start taking things like entire suspension systems and moving them to the wrong end of an entirely different platform.
But done in moderation, it’s great for cost and complexity. Next time you look up an OEM part number for your vehicle, search for that number and see what else comes up. I once owned a Chrysler minivan and a Dodge Viper that shared a weirdly high number of parts, like the lifters, the hood release lever, and one of the motor mount bolts. They were basically the same car.
This part sharing happens an incredible amount, but it isn’t really advertised because companies don’t want you to know how cheap they’re being. One case of parts sharing that makes a vehicle look better is the doors on a Jeep Gladiator.
If you look at a two-door Jeep Wrangler, the bottom rear corner of the doors are cut at an angle that follows the wheel arch. On the four-door Wrangler, the front doors have the same cut, even though there isn’t a wheel there. It’s the same door.
The rear doors have a bigger cut to clear the rear tire. Now look at the Gladiator; same rear door even though the tire is much farther away. Jeep has the same four doors for all the Wranglers and Gladiators.
It looks utilitarian, but the Jeep is a utility vehicle, so not only is it functionally better, it looks better too. If you bang your left rear door on a rock in Moab, or at the mall, you just have to go to the left rear door pile of the Jeep junkyard find your generation and color. Spend a minute removing those exposed hinges and swap over your door.
The body side is different, but it has the same flat door stampings, same seals, same interior panels, same exposed hinges. In fact, just about everything from the rear doors forward is the same between the Wrangler and the Gladiator. Also a lot of the stuff behind the rear door. The parts carryover is substantial, and I like it. This all makes me wonder how a Gladiator starts at $33,000 and supports my long-standing theory that FCA is surviving solely on huge Jeep profit margins.