You may be of the opinion that car segments have become more and more convoluted today, but the truth is it’s been like that for decades. For instance, back in the Seventies, there was the ever-so popular two-door sport utility vehicle based on a shortened full-size pick-up truck. A bit of a mouthful indeed — but dominating this class was the Blazer.
Introduced in 1969, the Chevrolet was the bestselling vehicle right up until it was phased out in 1999. Not that it didn’t have any decent rivals to contend with, it did; the Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Ramcharger were much-loved, but they joined the party a full two years after the K5 debuted. Ford’s Bronco was first on the scene (it debuted in 1966 as a rival to the Jeep CJ), but it was the Bowtie’s rugged off-roader that won the car-buying public’s hearts.
General Motors saved millions in development costs by basing the newbie on its already established full-size C/K pick-up trucks. On this chassis (introduced in 1967) it built the Blazer and made it available as a two- or four-wheel drive, and decked it out with a roomy, upscale interior and all sorts of luxury features including air-conditioning, and tilt-wheel. Perhaps best of all was the removable fibre glass roof. The attraction of open-air motoring was a winning formula and it lured buyers to Chevy dealerships.
It was a potent performer and was equally adept off the road as it was on it. A three-speed automatic or four-speed manual could be had (the Dana 20 transfer case was unbreakable) along with a host of engine options; the base motor was the 4.1-litre inline-six, then came the 4.8-litre (inline-six) and finally two V8s — a 5.0-litre and the big 5.7-litre. Two-wheel drive Blazers had an independent front suspension and rear trailing arms but the four-wheel drives had solid axles front and rear. In its debut year, GM made just over 11,000 but by ’72, that number rose to over 42,000 — impressive when you consider it created a whole new market segment.
Maintaining them is pretty straight forward as they share many parts with the C/K pick-up while the 350 V8 is basically bulletproof. If you want one today, you can expect to pay at least Dh100,000 for a low-mile example.