Certain geographic segments of our country just seem to lend themselves to 'wheeling, and Tucson, Arizona, is one those areas. The Tucson area is tailor-made for off-road excursions. Once you clear the city, there are trails and open space as far as the eye can see begging to be explored. With that in mind, the only question is vehicle choice and the degree of modifications desired to make the truck work as intended.
For Tony Salvemini, the choice was clear: a late-'80s solid-axle Blazer functionally modified with the focus on reliability and passenger comfort. Tony began the buildup with the purchase of a bone-stock '87 K5 Blazer. The front and rear Corporate solid axles were stuffed with 4.56 gearsets; the rear diff was upgraded with the installation of a Lock-Right locker.
The suspension mods were based on a collection of Rancho and Dick Cepek components. Front 2-1/2-inch lift spring packs from Rancho are damped by two Cepek shocks per wheel. The rear springs were treated to Rancho 2-inch add-a-leaves, while Rancho Kicker Shocks control axle wrap, and Cepek shocks keep the ride under control. Rounding out the basic suspension mods were the installation of Off-Road Designs' heavy-duty shackles and antisway bar quick-disconnect brackets. With the suspension dialed in, Tony was able to bolt on his chosen set of wheels and tires: 15x10-inch, modular-style, American Racing steel hoops wrapped with 33x12.50R15 BFGoodrich Radial Mud-Terrain T/As.
The Blazer's exterior is deceptive; Darren Bryan put a lot of work into the sheetmetal in preparation for the fresh black paint Tony had specified. After Darren had bolted on a Harwood cowl-induction hood and the custom-fabbed front and rear bumpers, Tony and Darren went to work, spraying the Blazer's skin with No. 921 PPG Black acrylic urethane. Really, this truck's appearance strongly illustrates the fact that mirror-straight sheetmetal and glossy black paint make a mighty impressive combination.
A fullsize Blazer's spacious cockpit lends itself to comfort and entertainment. Tucson-based Larry McGinnis did the lion's share of the interior mods, including the installation of the '95 Honda Civic EX front seats equipped with RCI seatbelts, as well as the upholstery of the rear bench seat and the carpet, which uses gray, marine-grade material. Larry also reworked the Bow Tie's dash by stitching up a gray vinyl insert, and installing a Sony sound machine, Sony speakers in the kick panels, custom rear speaker boxes with subwoofers, and Stewart-Warner gauges.
Is Tony Salvemini's nicely modified Blazer the most radical ride in the Tucson area? No. Does Tony, wife Charmaine, daughter Andreana, and son Nicholas have maximum fun out on Tucson's trails? Yes, and, in our opinion, that's what the sport of off-roading is all about - maximum enjoyment, no matter what type of 'wheeler you build.
|Owner/hometown ||: ||Tony and Charmaine Salvemini/Tucson, Arizona |
|Make/model ||: ||'87 Chevrolet K5 Blazer 4x4 |
|Suspension ||: ||Rancho 2-1/2-inch lift with dual Dick Cepek |
|dampers per wheel (front); Rancho 2-inch add-a- |
|leaves with a single Dick Cepek damper per |
|wheel, Off-Road Designs' antisway bar quick- |
|disconnect brackets |
|Axles ||: ||GM Corporate 10-bolt (front and rear) with |
|4.56 gears and rear Lock-Right locking differential |
|Wheels/tires ||: ||15x10-inch American Racing steel/33x12.50R15 |
|BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/As |
|Engine/transmission ||: ||5.7L TBI V-8/700-R4 automatic four-speed OD |
|Additional features ||: ||Flowmaster exhaust, PPG acrylic urethane paint, |
|Sony stereo, Honda Civic front seats, RCI 3-inch |