Chevy K5 Blazer
One of the coolest trucks to roll out of the factory with a shell and two doors, the original K5 Blazer maintains its place in the Toughest Trucks Hall of Fame! Thanks to its relatively small size, strong frame, simple drivetrain, and reliable line-up of motors. You could pick up the K5 with a very reliable straight-6 available in 250 or 292 cubic inches, or you could ramp it up with a traditional 5.0-liter powerplant. Of course, K5 truly earned its title as a Tough Truck thanks to the ultra-reliable Chevy 350. The original K5 Blazer was introduced in 1969 with a short wheelbase that hosted 4-wheel-drive only. In 1970, Chevy expanded the lineup and offered the K5 in a two-wheel-drive configuration that even featured independent front suspension – a rare feature seen on trucks in the 70’s.
The Blazer was developed as a direct competitor to another favorite on our Tough Trucks List, the Ford Bronco. Both trucks were originally built to compete with the legendary Jeep CJ series. Sending power to the wheels meant choosing between a simple three-speed Turbo Hydromatic transmission, the TH350, or a three- or four-speed transmission developed by Synchromesh. All these power transfer units maintained reputations of reliability and ruggedness, complementing the K5’s allure. Tying everything together was an overbuilt C-frame that could take a beating and generally resisted rust better than any box frame on the market at the time.
The K5 Blazer continued production after its 1969-1972 run under the GMC Jimmy label, finally ceasing production in 1991. During those decades, the K5 was a favorite among family members, mud runners, and cross-country haulers. Original K5 Blazers can be found for relative pennies on the dollar with over 200,000 miles on their powertrain, still running strong with original heads, transmissions and even original suspension components, like control arms and shocks.