Chevrolet introduced the K5 Blazer in 1969 to compete in the fast-growing two-door SUV market. Back then, the folks at GM probably had no idea that decades later the first-generation K5 they created would become such a sought-after machine.
The first-gen Blazer was in production until 1972. It had a removable top, a choice of I-6 or V-8 engines, and manual or automatic transmissions. Here's an interesting fact: in '69, the K5 had a base price of under $3,000. This seems hard to believe nowadays, considering these vehicles have appreciated substantially.
First-gen K5s seem to have mass appeal, and they're in demand. Many are being restored, and this '72 model is a fine example of what can be done with these rigs. It was completely restored by GM Truck Center in Burbank, California. As their name implies, they specialize in rigs like this. One of the cool things about this rig is that it's not an over-the-top build that has to be trailered and babied. This rig was built to be a fun and comfortable commuter as well as a capable wheeling machine. The crew at GM Truck Center kept things simple, and they integrated custom as well as time-proven, reliable components. However, there's more to the story.
This K5 is owned by Evan Popple of Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. Popple is 13 years old. Yep, he doesn't even have a driver's license yet, but he already has a cool rig. In our travels, we've found that this isn't too unusual in the off-highway world. We know of a 7-year-old with a '50 Willys and a 15-year-old with a trail-ready Geo Tracker. Hey, when they do start to drive, at least they'll have something cool and not a subcompact car with neon underbody lights and a chrome coffee-can exhaust tip.
But we digress. Here's to the new generation adopting a first-generation.
The K5 is propelled by a 350ci GM crate engine. This engine is delivered as a base-level long-block and it has cast-iron cylinder heads, four-bolt main caps, aluminum pistons, and a hydraulic camshaft. GM says that out of the crate it makes 290 hp at 5,100 rpm and 326 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,750 rpm. It's topped by an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and a 600 cfm Edelbrock Performer Series 1406 carburetor with electric choke. Exhaust gases are passed through a 2-inch dual exhaust system with Flowmaster Standard 40 Series two-chamber mufflers. The mill is kept cool via a four-core radiator sourced from a 1-ton Chevy truck. Bolted to the engine is a TH350 trans that has been heavily modified with a number of items including a B&M torque converter and shift kit.
A Dana 60 front axle sits in place of the stock Dana 44 unit. This D60 is out of an '86 Chevy K30 truck and it has been upgraded with a number of components including 35-spline stub shafts, 4.56:1 gears, a Dynatrac diff cover, a Powr-Lok differential and Warn manual hubs. The K5's suspension consists of Pro Comp shocks and custom Atlas leaf springs that are 4 inches longer than stock and which create 6 inches of lift. To fit these longer springs, the front spring hangers were relocated a corresponding length forward. The steering system is a custom crossover arrangement created by the team at GM Truck Center. It includes a steering box from a two-wheel-drive truck, modified passenger-side knuckle, and a custom drag link and tie rod.
Owner/Hometown: Evan Popple/Bear Creek, Pennsylvania
Vehicle/Model: 1972 Chevy K5 Blazer
Estimated value: $35,000
Type: Chevy 350ci V-8
Aspiration: Edelbrock Performer intake and carburetor, custom 2 3/4-inch dual exhaust, Flowmaster Standard 40 Series mufflers
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 290/326
Transfer Case: NP205
Front: Custom Atlas 6-inch leaf springs lengthened 4 inches, Pro Comp shocks
Rear: Custom Atlas 6-inch leaf springs, 1-inch blocks, Pro Comp shocks
Front: Dana 60, 35-spline stub shafts, Warn hubs, custom crossover steering/Powr-Lok
Rear: GM 14-bolt/Detroit Locker
Ring and pinion: 4.56:1
Wheels: 18-inch Weld
Tires: 38x15.50-18 Mickey Thompson Baja Claw Radial