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1989 Chevy Blazer - British Invasion

Posted in Features on November 24, 2008 Comment (0)
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Sir Martyn Atkins is a long way from home. Originally born and raised near Manchester, England, Atkins now resides in Glendale, California. Martyn moved to the States in 1989 to further his career as a filmmaker. He has worked with a long list of music icons such as Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and Alice and Chains. Martyn grew up obsessed with racing motorcycles and watching world rally racing as a young lad. When he moved to the United States, Martyn found a new type of racing to feed his obsession - off-road desert racing.

Martyn has owned many off-road vehicles through the years, including a '67 International TravelAll and, of course, the standard issue off-road vehicle of Britain, a Land Rover. He bought this particular Blazer in 1996 as an unfinished prerunner. His mission was to have the most awesome street-legal prerunner around. Taking his inspiration from rally racing and James Bond, Martyn began the transformation of this American beast. After only a few minor changes, Martyn had the American beast headed to Baja Mexico in search of adventure. Unbelievably, he pre-ran the Baja 1000 in '96, '97, and '98.

In 1999, Martyn raced the MDR Series in the Mojave Desert of California and came home the winner of four races as the Series Champion. Most people with vehicles such as this would put it on a trailer to get to an event, however, Martyn, perhaps in an effort to live up to his mission statement, drives his street-legal Chevy to each event.

Every English secret service agent needs "Q" to develop the latest in crime-fighting technology. Martyn has found his own version of "Q" in his friend J.B. Wall. J.B. is a student at California State University, Northridge and his hobby and passion is working on Martyn's battle machine. His craft is reflected in his work. A completely custom 4130 chrome-moly rollcage was TIG-welded into place. The 'cage accommodates three people with three Premier racing seats fitted inside the cab. A custom dash was built, which includes Auto Meter gauges and a Lowrance GPS/Terra trip rally computer. Hanneman fiberglass fenders and a hood were hung on the chassis. Once everything was mounted in place, Martyn had Line-X coatings completely cover the interior with its spray-on truck bed protection. This gave the Blazer an all-around military look on the interior. Martyn also had Line-X shoot the inside of the wheelwells and the exposed rear 'cage. The final touch continued with the military theme: The exterior was painted a custom gloss battleship gray.

The stock Chevy 350 engine was in place until just recently. With more than 80,000 miles, the tired Chevy produced enough smoke to literally smoke out the competition, much like one of 007's smoking Jaguars, trying to outrun a pack of thugs. Beginning with a new block, Martyn stuck with the proven reliability of the Chevy 350 small-block and hired Tim Welch from Maynard's in Anaheim, California, to build the new powerplant. Welch installed SCAT rods connected to forged pistons; Dart heads, completely ported with larger valves, were bolted onto the new block. A DynoMax exhaust system connected to a set of custom headers was bolted to the new heads. A Holley carburetor and a K&N air filter make up the engine's new breathing apparatus. When all was said and done, the Blazer's new weapon was mounted to the dyno where it produced 441 horsepower and 440 pounds of torque. Now, Martyn was ready to smoke the competition like never before.

The new powerplant was mated to a Turbo 400 transmission built by Transaction in Sunland, California. The Blazer sports a Dana 60 rearend with a 4.88 gear ratio. The rearend is outfitted with Summers Brothers axles and five-bolt hubs with 11/16-inch lugs to secure the wheels to the vehicle. Slowing the 6,500-plus-pound monster down is no problem with a set of brakes off a Ford 1-ton up front and a set of Wilwood calipers and rotors in the rear.

The new powerplant put the gray Blazer into the pretty-dang-fast category, bumping up the top speed to 115 mph. With more than 30 inches of wheel travel at each corner, this battleship of a truck proved capable of devouring any type of terrain at any speed. In the front of his battleship, Martyn converted the original A-arm suspension to an I-beam system from a Ford. Two Sway-A-Way shocks are used at each front wheel - one coilover and one external bypass model. This combination allows Martyn the same amount of adjustability as even the most advanced suspension systems. The same shock combo was bolted onto the rear cantilever suspension design. A set of 37x12.5 BFGoodrich Baja project tires was mounted on Ultra 17x8-inch wheels with Champion bead locks, and the glorious Blazer was ready for any mission.

Martyn Atkins is proof that man's obsession with incredible machinery and off-road driving is a worldwide love affair. Similar to other aspects of culture, vehicles evolve according to a particular need. Different tools evolve for different jobs. Martyn has raced motorcycles and watched James Bond since he was just a young lad romping around the fields of Manchester. That was the inspiration for his Blazer, his latest - and, perhaps greatest - adventure. With plans to race in the Baja 1000 this year, Martyn says his only regret is that several years ago he frightened his wife so badly in a former truck that she has not gone prerunning with him since. Maybe he could offer to let her to drive it some time? Maybe at Baja?

SPECIFICATIONS
Owner/hometown Martyn Atkins/Glendale, California
Make/model '89 Chevy Blazer
Suspension Sway-A-Way shocks; I-beam front suspension;cantilever rear
Travel 30 inches (front); 30 inches (rear)
Engine Chevy 350
Transmission Turbo 400
Tires 37-inch BFGoodrich Baja T/A project tires
Wheels 17x8-inch Ultra with Champion bead locks
Additional features K&N air filter; Auto Meter gauges; two {{{Optima}}}
batteries; Fuel Safe fuel cell; Hanneman
fiberglass; Premier Products seats; Deist
five-point harness; PCI race radio; Lowrance
GPS; and a Howe steering box
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