News Culture

This Life-Size Jeep Gladiator Matchbox Is Your Childhood Dream Come True

Up for auction this weekend, all proceeds go to Building Homes for Heroes to help injured veterans.
3/4 view of jeep gladiator
RealTruck

Aftermarket accessories manufacturer RealTruck paired up with build shop Doetsch Off-Road to create a showcase vehicle last fall: a custom 2023 Jeep Gladiator that’s a life-size replica of a 1:64 Matchbox toy car. Once completed, the vehicle was unveiled at the SEMA show last October and then celebrated again at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

The truck’s journey could have ended right then as a one-time promotion opportunity in partnership with Mattel and Matchbox. RealTruck, however, opted to take it a step further. Today, the vehicle will be auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson‘s marquee Scottsdale event and all proceeds will be donated to to Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that builds and modifies homes for injured veterans and first responders.

Finished in black with orange accents, the Matchbox/RealTruck Gladiator JT is decked out with RealTruck off-roading products. Designed for off-roading enthusiasts, the custom Gladiator includes a roof rack with a rooftop tent, a step system, steel tube fenders, traction recovery boards, a lift kit, and more. On top of that, the buyer will get a matching 1:64 toy car to match. This is no 99-cent grocery-store Matchbox, either; it’s currently selling for $25 as part of the Matchbox Collectors series.

“It is actually pretty rare [to have a matching full-size and Matchbox-sized vehicle] and it takes a lot of planning,” RealTruck executive Lee Riser told The Drive. “This one took more than a year to come together with all the right elements.”

Building Homes for Heroes has partnered with RealTruck since 2017, receiving over $1 million from the company to help its cause. And RealTruck has teamed up with Mattel before on both toy and life-size builds, so this isn’t the company’s first one. Riser says it’s one of the best toy concepts and creations the company has ever worked on.

Two American veterans who were wounded in combat are recipients of homes from the organization. One is retired Marine Sargeant Kirstie Ennis, an adaptive adventure athlete recently featured on NPR for her second attempt to climb Mount Everest. The other is retired Army Sargeant Mary Herrera of Arizona, whose dedication to veterans prompted the state to pass a bill in her name to authorize tuition waiver scholarships for National Guard members and women who receive a Purple Heart. Herrera was hit in the right arm by two rounds from an AK-47 during an ambush, seriously damaging her right arm in ways you don’t want to imagine.

“Having partners like RealTruck is crucial,” Herrara shared with The Drive. “It means businesses recognize the importance of giving back to those who’ve served. Their support not only helps provide homes for wounded veterans but also sends a powerful message about the unity and gratitude we share as a nation.”

Look for this vehicle to cross the auction block at 4:30 p.m. MST today (January 27) at WestWorld of Scottsdale. You can watch the livestream on the Barrett-Jackson site.

[UPDATE 1/28/24 11:09 PM ET – The total bid on the auction block was $250,000 for the truck. Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis followed up with a donation of $25,000, and a private crowd member donated $50,000, totaling $325,000 donated to Building Homes for Heroes for the sale.]

Got a story idea? Send it it to tips@thedrive.com.