The Gaylord Gladiator

Zeppelin Group showcases an automobile in a class of its own: the one-off 1957 Gaylord Gladiator

Find all information about the Gaylord Gladiator on this page. 

The FIF vehicle repair facility at Friedrichshafen, which would go on to become part of the Zeppelin Group, was commissioned to build a particularly spectacular vehicle in the mid-1950s. At the request of two wealthy American brothers, the Zeppelin Group built a unique car in 1957, known as the Gaylord Gladiator. Once the vehicle was completed in 1958, it and one rolling chassis passed into the ownership of the Gaylord family. The only automobile of its type in the world had lain under the radar for more than 60 years. In early 2017, the Zeppelin Group received an invitation via the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen to buy the classic car – a stroke of luck for the Group, as the vehicle had lain under the radar for many years and was believed to be lost. Being the only automobile of its type in the world, not only is the Gaylord Gladiator a unique specimen in the classic car industry and a priceless find for the Zeppelin Group, it is also a true gem of Friedrichshafen’s industrial heritage.

This perfectly preserved vehicle, working chassis, and fascinating history of its creation and life story will be on show as part of this exhibition at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, before being made available to the Zeppelin Museum on permanent loan from the Zeppelin Group.

Read the press release here 

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Youtube video of the unveiling event at the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen 

The Gaylord Gladiator from 1957: This stylish sports car is still very eye-catching after more than 60 years - including from a bird's eye view.

Timeless elegance with a streamlined body: At that time Brooks Stevens was one of the most sought-after automotive designers in the USA, and the American clients for this automobile - Jim and Ed Gaylord - brought him on board to design the vehicle.

A unique, top-class automobile: The Gaylord brothers sought the apex of chassis and bodywork workmanship at that time in Germany.

The chassis of the Gaylord Gladiator is a grid frame made from welded-together, cavity-sealed chromium molybdenum steel tubes.

When building the Gaylord Gladiator, quality was top priority for American clients Jim and Ed Gaylord. The Gaylord Gladiator represented - and still represents - Zeppelin's first-rate workmanship.

The steering wheel of the Gaylord Gladiator can be individually adjusted, and the dashboard is produced from tropical woods.

With a love of detail: Brooks Stevens, the designer of the Gaylord Gladiator, designed sword-shaped indicator needles as part of the Gaylord emblem and brand. Every display in the vehicle has its own custom-manufactured indicator needle.

A sports car in a class of its own: Under the hood of the unique Gaylord Gladiator, there's a Cadillac V8 engine at 5,927 cm³ and 213 kW.

The Gaylord Gladiator offered many technically advanced features: It was possible not only to adjust the seats electrically but also the windows - and the car's hardtop.

A total of three chassis were produced. One was ultimately used as a body for the Gaylord Gladiator, and another was in the care of an American car collector. The third rolling chassis is currently lost.

Before unveiling the Gaylord Gladiator: Panel discussion with (from left to right) Dr Claudia Emmert, Director of the Zeppelin Museum; Andreas Brand, Mayor of the City of Friedrichshafen; Sandra Scherzer, Head of Corporate Communications Zeppelin Group, and Peter Gerstmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Zeppelin Group.

Admiring the Gaylord Gladiator after the glamorous unveiling: Dr Claudia Emmert, Director of the Zeppelin Museum, and Peter Gerstmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Zeppelin Group, in front of the extraordinary sports car.

The only remaining rolling chassis of the Gaylord Gladiator can be admired alongside the Gaylord car at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen.

Festive unveiling of the Gaylord Gladiator (from left to right): Andreas Brand, Mayor of the City of Friedrichshafen; Peter Gerstmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Zeppelin Group, and Dr Claudia Emmert, Director of the Zeppelin Museum, welcome the Gaylord Gladiator back at its production site in Friedrichshafen after more than 60 years.

A test seating in the Gaylord Gladiator: Peter Gerstmann is proud of the extraordinary historic car: it is the only sports car ever produced by the Zeppelin Group.

Full steam ahead: Andreas Brand, Mayor of the City of Friedrichshafen and Peter Gerstmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Zeppelin Group, already look forward to a test drive with the Gaylord Gladiator on the new B31 interstate.

What does the Gaylord Gladiator mean for the Zeppelin Group, the City of Friedrichshafen, and the Zeppelin Museum? (From left to right): Dr Claudia Emmert, Director of the Zeppelin Museum; Andreas Brand, Mayor of the City of Friedrichshafen; Sandra Scherzer, Head of Corporate Communications Zeppelin Group, and Peter Gerstmann, Chairman of the Management Board of Zeppelin Group, inform the public.

Copyright for all images: Zeppelin GmbH