Although Chevy was late to the 4X4 SUV Party, the first-generation, full size, two-door K5 Blazer established a template that was quickly followed by both Jeep with the Cherokee, and Ford with its second-generation Bronco.
It was during the sixties that Jeep pioneered a trend that, years later, would become known as the SUV. Yes, the iconic CJ had established the class, followed by Ford’s compact Bronco and International Harvester’s Scout. For most people though, it was the classic Jeep Wagoneer, introduced in the fall of 1962, that established the template of a truck-based, dual-purpose vehicle – serving as a station wagon during the week and a tow or recreational vehicle on weekends. These proto-SUV’s fed on America’s growing wealth, our migration to the suburbs, and our desire to get out and “do things.” The four-wheel-drive systems were basic, part-time units suitable only for off-road use (full-time four-wheel-drive systems would start to appear in the 70’s). The early adopters of this breed of American automobile found that personal four-wheel-drive vehicles helped define their active lifestyles.
Chevy was initially left out of the mix, offering four-wheel-drive on its C/K line of pickups, with a few special order Suburbans. All that changed in the spring of 1969 when the K5 Blazer was introduced, offering a degree of versatility and utility unmatched by its competitors. Built on a shortened version of the frame shared by the high-volume pickups, the K5 was cost effective to build. Almost every option offered on the pickups, such as air-conditioning, was available on the Blazer.
The K5 Blazer is what we now call a game changer. While there are no more full-sized two door SUV models offered, the current Tahoe traces its ancestry back to that groundbreaking 1969 K5 Blazer. And while most early Blazers have returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide, or have been lifted and modified beyond recognition, unmolested and pristine examples have a small but growing following in the collector truck world as they were the first of their breed.
OK, I’m going to go off track here, and not repeat the entire article, as you can log onto Amos Enthusiast Press, and download the entire thing, just by going here. However, I did state that the Blazer was quickly copied: A Revised International Scout II debuted mid-year of 1971. The Jeep Cherokee – a two-door version of the Wagoneer – was set to debut in the fall of 1973. The Dodge Ramcharger (A virtual Xerox copy of the Blazer) was also set to debut at the same time as the Jeep. It took Ford a lot longer to perform their own Xerox copy, making the revised Bronco a late bloomer in 1977.
As in any Buyers Guide, I try and recommend what to look for when purchasing one of these trucks, along with what was available from the factory, cost of replacement parts, and what to pay. It’s actually a pretty good read, if I do say so myself. The question is would you want to own one? Sound off, and sign up for an electronic subscription, as it costs nothing, and you receive only two e-mails per month from the publisher.