Chevy Enthusiast via Hooniverse: 1969 – 1972 Chevy K5 Blazer Buyers Guide

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.

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  1. Texan_Idiot25 Avatar

    In the south these are still common, their worst enemy is floor pans from leaky tops, otherwise no real harmful damage like the northern trucks (typical). These trucks do get subjected to more custom work (In a percentage of stock/custom) due to their layout. How many 4×4 or 2wd hard top SUVs do you have? They are great platforms for cruisers. But, more and more are certainly being found and kept as is, if is any indicator.
    Though, you should see the guys who take suburbans, and cut them down to the Tahoes that never were. Only 2-3 of them that I know of, but they're wicked and make you ask, why it was never done.
    Though, GM had SUV versions of their late 40s pickups I thought?

  2. tonyola Avatar

    GM had built Suburbans based on the pickups since the 1930s. Until the late 1960s, they were basically panel trucks with windows and rear seats. Nobody thought much about them being "sport utility" back then, and not many people bought them for private use – they were mostly used by surveyors, forestry services, utility companies, DOTs, and the like.

  3. dmilligan Avatar

    I've always had a soft spot for the K5s but I never had a decent chance to own one, dammit. The first series of Broncos were fun too. I spent a good portion of my youth bouncing around the hill of So. Oregon in one with friends. I'm surprised I'm still alive.

  4. dmilligan Avatar

    Yeah. My family owned a couple of old Suburbans when I was kid back in the '50s and '60s and they were just utility vehicles, basically an enclosed pickup with a second seat. I remember being surprised that Suburbans were considered SUVs when the term started to be used. That is until I saw how the new model Suburbans were outfitted – like a Buick inside, a far cry from the bare-bones vehicles I grew up with.

  5. P161911 Avatar

    As a former 79 K-5 owner I have always wanted a first gen Blazer. I seem to remember from an old sales brochure that sates basically everything besides the engine, transmission, wheels and tires was an option. The BASE model didn't have a top, rear seat, or passenger seat even! I doubt any where sold that way and if hey were they have had stuff added since.

  6. Supergrape Avatar

    Should check out Arizona K5 Blazer Bunch of good guys and can get some good info/deals on parts and repairs.

  7. Luis Avatar

    i goy 2 72 k5 blazer, 4×4 in mexico, one excelent condition the otther one has all accesories but need body work.