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Chevrolet Blazer

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Please note: this report covers the full-size C/K5 Blazer and GMC Jimmy only. For information about the smaller S10 Blazer and the compact 1995-2005 Blazer, please see separate S10 Blazer page.

Chevrolet introduced the K5 Blazer in 1969 using a shortened K10 pickup truck chassis - in some ways, the Blazer actually started out as a very shortened K10 pickup with a removable roof and a bench seat in the bed surrounded by a roll bar - that was pretty much the essence of the original Blazer. The original K5 Blazer (back in those days, in Chevrolet lore, C signified 2-wheel drive, K meant 4-wheel drive, hence the K and C5 Blazer and C and K10 pickup) would last only 4 model years, whereas the 2nd generation would last a whopping 19 model years. The C/K Blazer would eventually become the Tahoe in 1995, and would add a 4-door model (essentially a shortened Suburban), but the Blazer name would continue on the compact S10-style Blazer in 1995 and continue with very little change until it was finally discontinued after 2005.

Here's a quick rundown on each generation:

1969 Chevrolet Blazer-01 jpg.jpg
Chevrolet Blazer
Chevrolet
Production 1969-1972
Class Full-Size SUV
Body Style 3-Door Wagon
Length 180"
Width 79"
Height 70.1" (2WD)
72.1" (4WD)
Wheelbase 104"
Weight 4000-4600 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
4-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
Engine 4.1L (250 cid) I6 (1969-1972)
4.8L (292 cid) I6 (1970-1972)
5.0L (307 cid) V8 (1969-1972)
5.7L (350 cid) V8 (1969-1972)
Power 155-255 hp
Similar GMC Jimmy
Platform


1st Generation (1969-1972)

The Blazer started out in 1969 on a shortened K10 pickup frame, and was basically GM's answer to the Ford Bronco, International Scout and the Jeep Cherokee/Wagoneer series (and perhaps to a lesser extent the Jeep CJ series), but a big difference was that the Blazer (for the time being) was the only one of these besides the Cherokee/Wagoneer to share its body styling with its pickup-truck brother, something the Ford Bronco wouldn't do until 1978 (and something the Scout and CJ would never do). Platform-sharing would cut down on overall production costs and because of this, the Blazer had much more interior room than its competition... but it was also much larger on the outside, something hard-core off-roaders might have seen as a vice, because it might have had a harder time getting into some tight spots than a comparable Bronco or Scout might have.

First year Blazers were 4-wheel-drive only with a solid front axle and leaf springs front and rear, and all in this generation would have removable roofs. And since the Blazer was based on the K10, it naturally shared its drivetrains - base engine was a 4.1L (250 cid) I6, with a 5.0L (307 cid) V8 and 5.7L (350 cid) V8 as options. Transmissions included 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions, as well as a 3-speed automatic.

1970 models changed very little, but this year it gained a corporate GMC twin, known as the Jimmy. The Jimmy was a tad more upscale than the Blazer, the styling differed with a different nose (it had quad headlights versus the Blazer's dual setup) but it was otherwise identical. 2-wheel drive became standard this year (these were known as C5 Blazers) and had independent front suspension and rear trailing arms, with coil springs on both. A larger I6 became available, the 4.8L (292 cid) engine (reserved strictly for the truck line, this engine was not available in any GM car line).

By 1971, the Blazer (and Jimmy) were certified hits, as the buying public was apparently enamored with their rugged go-anywhere reputation and ability. The Blazer and Jimmy were hardly Cadillacs by any means, but they were definitely a step up in refinement and everyday liveability and not such beasts of burden than perhaps a comparable Jeep CJ might have been. Blazers got a new nose this year, the grille was now an eggcrate design with the parking lights below in the bumper versus beside the headlights like last year (the Jimmy would continue with its same styling). Drivetrain choices remained the same as in 1970, with the 350 V8 being the most popular engine choice, but front disc brakes would become standard issue this year. 1972s got very little change at all while an all new redesigned model (naturally based on the C/K pickups) would be introduced in 1973.

Main Competitors

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Chevrolet Blazer
Chevrolet
Production 1973-1991
Class Full-Size SUV
Body Style 3-Door Wagon
Length 184.8"
Width 79.6"
Height 73.8" (2WD)
76.8" (4WD)
Wheelbase 106.5"
Weight 4200-4800 lbs
Transmission 3-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
4-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
4-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
Engine 4.1L (250 cid) I6 (1973-1984)
4.3L (262 cid) V6 (1985-1987)
4.8L (292 cid) I6 (1973-1984)
5.0L (305 cid) V8 (1976-1987)
5.0L (307 cid) V8 (1973)
5.7L (350 cid) V8 (1973-1991)
5.7L (350 cid) Diesel V8 (1980-1981)
6.2L (379 cid) Diesel V8 (1982-1991)
6.6L (400 cid) V8 (1975-1978)
Power 110-230 hp
Similar GMC Jimmy
Platform

2nd Generation (1973-1991)

Blazers and Jimmys were all new this year, and would retain this same basic bodystyle for the next 19 model years. Again, Blazers and Jimmys had different grilles and the Jimmys were a little bit fancier than the Blazers were, but they would remain otherwise identical. Engine choices were the same as in the last generation, with the 350 again being the most popular choice, and it would remain so throughout this generation's tenure. All Blazers and Jimmys would have full instrumentation with an all-new wraparound dashboard which largely resembled the 1969-1972 Pontiac Grand Prix's dash. Roofs were still removable, although this still remained a very tedious task and required at least a few people to do so - which is probably why topless Blazers were rare sights, even when they were new. 2- and 4-wheel drive configurations were still available, with the majority being 4-wheel drive.

1974 models barely changed at all other than the 307 V8 being dropped, but their competition grew as Chrysler got into the game this year with the new Dodge Ramcharger and Plymouth Trailduster, which were based on the full size D150/W150 pickups like the Blazer was based on the C/K10 pickups. 1975 models got new grilles and a larger optional 6.6L (400 cid) small-block V8. Some would also get a catalytic converter, mandating the use of unleaded gasoline. 1976s were pretty much identical but no longer had their engine displacement announced on the grille, but a big difference was that the whole roof was no longer removable - the roof only was removable from aft of the doors (some referred to this as a half-cab design), leaving the front cockpit completely covered. A smaller 5.0L (305 cid) V8 debuted that year. Changes in 1977 were nil, 1978s got another new grille, and power windows and locks became available for the first time. Ford introduced an all-new full-size Bronco this year that was now based on the full size F-150 pickup, giving the Blazer and Jimmy some heady new competition. By 1979, all Blazers and Jimmys had catalytic converters but were otherwise largely unchanged from 1978. Both got a new grille in 1980, which included new rectangular headlights. Dashboard gauge graphics were revised and updated and all speedometers now read to 85 MPH. An unfortunate new engine option this year was the wretched Oldsmobile-built 350 diesel V8.

1981 Blazers and Jimmys got a minor front end restyle this year with a new nose, fenders and hood. Front grilles were changed for a second time in as many years, and upper-level Blazers and Jimmys could have stacked quad headlights. Parking lights were relocated to the bumper, and front side marker lights were now horizontal instead of vertical. Rear end styling, however, would stay the same as before. 305 and 350 gas engined models gained GM's all-new "electronic spark control", and 4-speed automatics became available on those engines. The biggest change for 1982 would be an all-new optional 6.2L (379 cid) diesel V8. This replaced the suicidal diesel 350, and was designed specifically for GM's truck line (the C/K pickups and Suburbans naturally got this engine also). This year, Chevy built Blazers specifically for the U.S military forces, a testament to the Blazer's strength and longevity and ability to stand up to years of G.I. abuse. These were 4-wheel drive, minimally equipped and had either the gas 350 or diesel 6.2 V8, and would be sold thru 1987. While most have made their way to scrap yards or civilian hands, a handful are still in use by the military. Lesser Blazers and Jimmys continued, and drivetrain choices remained the 250 and 292 I6, 305 and 350 V8 and the diesel 6.2 V8. 4-speed manual transmissions were available on all but the diesel. 3-speed automatics were available on the I6s and mandatory on the diesel, the 305 and 350s had 4-speed automatics.

Blazers and Jimmys got new horizontally-slatted grilles in 1983, and the parking lights were moved from the bumper up beside the headlights. Upper models still had stacked quad rectangular headlights while lesser models still had dual rectangular units. 1984s were pretty much identical to the '83s, but '85 models got another new grille that got a body-colored horizontal divider on upper-level Blazers. The 250 and 292 I6 engine options were dropped, replaced by a new 4.3L (262 cid) V6, which was basically a 350 V8 with 2 cylinders lopped off. No changes in 1986; 1987 models got throttle body fuel injection (TBI) for both the 305 and 350 V8's. Despite now being 15 model years old, Blazers and Jimmys continued to be strong sellers for GM, and sales managed to hold their own against the Ford Bronco and Dodge Ramcharger competition (and even against the smaller S10 Blazer/S15 Jimmy).

1988 C/K pickups were all new (and now known as C/K1500 models on the GMT400 chassis), but the Blazer and Jimmy soldiered on with the previous bodystyle and differed little from the last year. The 305 V8 was dropped, leaving the 350 as the only gas V8 (which was much more popular anyway), and the 350 now had a single serpentine belt (replacing previous multiple V-belts) to drive engine accessories. 1989 Blazers and Jimmys got new blacked-out grille and new "mini-quad" headlights patterned after the C/K1500 pickup design. It also inherited the C/K1500's 4-spoke steering wheel in the fancier trim level, and gained rear anti-lock brakes (which operated in two wheel drive mode only). 1990 models had no appreciable changes other than the rear seat now had outboard shoulder belts, and there weren't many to speak of for 1991 either, its final year in this iteration.

After 19 years of this bodystyle...it was definitely time for an update.

Main Competitors

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Chevrolet Blazer
Chevrolet
Production 1992-1994
Class Full-Size SUV
Body Style 3-Door Wagon
Length 188"
Width 77.1"
Height 71" (2WD)
72.8" (4WD)
Wheelbase 111.5"
Weight 4200-4800 lbs
Transmission 5-Speed Manual, RWD/4WD
4-Speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
Engine 5.7L (350 cid) V8 (1992-1994)
6.5L (395 cid) turbodiesel V8 (1994)
Power 180-210 hp
Similar GMC Jimmy
Platform GMT400

3rd Generation (1992-1994)

The Blazer and Jimmy (renamed Yukon) were now redesigned onto the new GMT400 truck platform this year that was the basis for the full size C/K1500 pickup truck. Wheelbase grew by 5 inches, overall length grew 3 inches, but they were a tad narrower than before. Rear roof sections were not removable any longer, these Blazers and Yukons were fully steel-roofed. 4-wheel anti-lock brakes were now standard, and the sole engine was the 210 hp 350 V8. A 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission were available. Like the previous generation, 2- or 4-wheel drive models were available, with the majority being 4-wheel drive. 1993 models with automatic transmission got new electronic controls, and in 1994, an all-new 180 hp 6.5 (395 cid) turbo diesel V8 became an option, and they also got the new federally-mandated Center High Mounted Stop Lamp. Blazers would also get a thicker chrome horizontal center divider in the grille this year on upper-level models.

Dodge dropped the Ramcharger, permanently bowing out of the full-size race after 1993, so that left only the Blazer/Jimmy and Ford Bronco as the only full-size SUVs available... but as time would show, that would only be the tip of the iceberg, as the Blazer became the Tahoe in 1995 and added a 4-door model (although the Blazer and Jimmy names would live on as compact SUVs). Ford would follow suit 2 years later with its all-new Bronco replacement Expedition in 1997 - and as a result, these 3 models would end up being far more popular than their Blazer/Jimmy/Bronco predecessors could have ever imagined with the explosion in SUV sales in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

Main Competitors

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