Within the custom truck community, there are a few vehicles that the majority of enthusiasts would die to get their hands on. These are the rare trucks that when found are usually not worthy of restoration, or the seller is really proud of what he has and wants to put the buyer in the poorhouse. One of these vehicles is the factory-original two-wheel-drive Chevrolet K5 Blazer. Not as rare as its '67-'72 brethren, the '73-'82 style has reached a new level of popularity in recent years. Since SUVs and trucks in those days were used more for utility, most consumers checked the four-wheel-drive option on the order sheets for the Blazer when they strolled into their local Chevrolet dealers. In essence, the two-wheel drives are few and far between, and when one is found, it's like discovering gold. Over the years, a handful of modified factory two-wheel-drive Blazers have made their way into the pages of Truckin', and when either conservatively or radically modified, they look extra cool slung low with a set of large-diameter billets buried under the fenders. Most enthusiasts who desire to build a custom Blazer these days bite the bullet, purchase a four-wheel drive, and proceed to convert all the suspension. A fine substitute, but there is nothing like having the real McCoy.
Kevin Benoit from Thibodaux, Louisiana, is the proud owner of the '82 Chevy K-5 Blazer spread across these pages, and as the title indicates, it left the factory in 1982 as a two-wheel drive. Kevin owns and operates a business in Thibodaux called Dent Works, where he specializes in paintless dent removal repairs. So, when the opportunity to create a bright rolling business card to promote Dent Works arose, he jumped at it. One morning while gazing through the local morning paper, an ad for an '82 two-wheel-drive K-5 Blazer appeared, and Kevin could not get to the phone fast enough. It turns out Kevin knew the man, since he had sold him a motorcycle a year early. He had seen the Blazer then and remarked to his wife that he would like to own it someday. His time had come, and as soon as the phone hit the receiver, Kevin and his wife Debra were on their way to the owner's house with a fistful of cash.
Once the Blazer reached the Benoit household, it was given a mild lowering, splashed with a fresh white paintjob, and graced with a tweed interior to make it more presentable for Kevin's daily route. The Blazer was driven this way for a while, until Kevin met Kerry "Duck" Cunningham and became a member of the Negative Camber truck club. Once Kevin started hanging around a collection of custom truck enthusiasts who can't go more than a few minutes without dragging 'rail or body, the bug bit hard, and Blazin' Candy was torn apart and treated to a thorough custom rebuild.
This time around, no bolt-on, stagnant drop was going to cut it, and Kevin teamed up with Kerry Cunningham and Travis Chavin to put the Blazer on air and get it laying 'rail over big wheels. Up front, the existing Belltech 2-inch drop spindles were retained, and the coil springs were given the boot and replaced by Firestone 26C airbags mounted between the factory upper control arms and a pair of custom tubular lower control arms. Damping the front suspension are Belltech Nitro-Drop Shocks. Out back, Kerry, Travis, and Kevin constructed a custom three-link ladder bar setup and installed a deep C-notch to aid with ride quality and clearance issues. Firestone 2600 airbags were mounted in the rear to lift the tail end for driving and slam it for showing. Belltech Nitro-Drop Shocks were again used to enhance the ride quality in the rear. To enhance the Blaser's new stance, 20x8.5-inch Boze Sphynx wheels were mounted up front and complemented by 22x10-inch versions of the same bold hoops out back. For some protection against the elements, Dunlop rubber was mounted on those wheels, which measured P245/35ZR20 at the front corners and P285/30ZR22 at the rear. After the suspension was sliced and diced, and the Blazer was slammed over a set of bold billets, it was time to address the high-mileage OEM powerplant that was still motivating the Blazer down the road.
From the get-go of this project, Kevin planned to drive the Blazer to and from every show, and enjoy its innovative looks and style, so a fresh and reliable powerplant was needed. A morning with the local paper again proved profitable, as a '97 LT1 350ci V-8 and 4L60-E transmission pulled from a wrecked '97 Camaro was advertised complete with the wiring harness. The motor was obtained and tricked out with a polished aluminum March Performance Pulley kit and Hedman headers linked to a custom exhaust system. For detail, miscellaneous parts and pieces were scuffed and painted yellow to match the exterior. To complete the drivetrain, a rearend from a '78 Chevy C10 was installed and filled with 3.73 gears and an Auburn posi unit. The completion of the fresh powerplant led Kevin to again address the Blazer's exterior and what he would do to make it come alive.
Not sold on the idea of shaving everything in sight, Kevin decided that preserving the Blazer's OEM heritage by leaving the door handles, gas filler, rear bumper, key locks, taillights, and even the stock grille in place was the way to go. After the metal was mildly massaged to get everything straight and aligned, a custom steel cowl-induction hood built by Don at Innovative Customs was bolted onto the factory hood hinges. Kevin loaded up his personal paint gun with DuPont 2000 Millenium Corvette Yellow and rolled the Blazer into the spray booth at Trapp Chevrolet, where Kerry Cunningham spends his Monday through Friday hours. The Blazer was given several coats of Corvette Millenium Yellow and emerged from the spray booth a bright and bold gem. After ample curing time had passed, the bright-yellow base was color-sanded and buffed to a brilliant shine, and all the exterior chrome was reinstalled.
Now that the Blazer was slammed flat on the earth, wearing some new rims and skins, stuffed with a fresh powerplant, and wearing a new blanket of color, attention was turned to giving the interior some custom attention. First, a custom speaker enclosure was built by Jacob Authement to house the two 10-inch MA Audio subwoofers and the Audiobahn amplifier for the subwoofers. The box was smoothed and painted in yellow to match the exterior. Complementing the bass of the 10-inch MA Audio subwoofers are Polk Audio 6.5-inch mids and 2-inch tweeters concealed throughout the cabin. A Pioneer head unit delivers the jams, while a Pioneer Equalizer enhances sound quality. The interior's looks were handled by first smoothing the dash cap and painting it in DuPont Graphite Metallic paint. A pair of '99 Chevy truck bucket seats was installed up front, wearing a combination of charcoal gray and black naugahyde material for a sports-car look. An '03 Chevy Tahoe bench seat resides in the rear and was given the same fabric treatment. Roy's Upholstery of Houma, Louisiana, is responsible for the sick stitchwork. Placed between the two front seats is a Cadillac Escalade center console smoothed and painted in Corvette Millenium Yellow to match the Blazer's bright exterior.A host of polished billet dash pieces and a Colorado Custom Flame billet steering wheel finish off the cockpit in style.
Kevin Benoit has constructed one sweet and rare Blazer, which has snagged its fair share of First Place gold statues since its completion. It certainly got the attention of the staff of Truckin' when we approached Kevin to have him cruise it up in front of our lenses. Kevin would like to send a shout out to Kerry "Duck" Cunningham, Travis Chaven, Jacob Authement, his wife Debra, and his father for their help in completing the project. Now when Kevin rolls up to do a paintless dent removal job, he will be turning his customers' heads with his bright and sanitary Blazer.