Even though its paintjob almost blended in with the dusty desert, we spotted this 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer at the 2020 King of the Hammers race. Eddie Loomis gave us the rundown of how he turned the stock Chevy into a dirt-blasting machine.
How Eddie Found the 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer
“I found the ’84 Blazer on Craigslist, traded a quad for it, and drug it home,” Eddie told us. He then dug into the K5 and what the seller described as a “blown transmission.” But this wasn’t Eddie’s first Chevy.
“I got my first Square Body when I was 17—a rusted-out ’74 GMC Jimmy,” he explains. “I started fixing it up until I realized the body was toast. I found a ’73 K5 with no rust and combined them to make one good one. When I started to wheel it in the local canyons, I decided the body and frame had way too much flex. The tailgate would fall open, and the doors would bind up. I turned my attention to trucks and swapped all my drivetrain into a shortbed K10 chassis.” Eddie then found himself searching for a rig with more rigidity in the body, perhaps a Blazer without a convertible top. That’s when he happened upon the Craigslist gold from 1984.
The K5’s allegedly “blown transmission” gremlin was really a transfer case stuck in neutral, and after Eddie replaced the bound-up automatic locking hubs, he had it rolling again. However, he was not infatuated with what the previous owner did with the engine. “They stuck a big-block in there, a Gen V with a carburetor. Gutless. It ran hot, and I hated it.” His solution was to replace the mill with a 383 Stroker. With the engine in place, he continued under the philosophy of wanting “to build something to take me almost anywhere.” Using the home garage as the workshop, he assembled the Blazer from a mixture of donor parts and hand-built creations until it worked, as he described it, “perfectly.” Whether it’s grilling out in the local desert or wheeling hard-core trails across the American West, Eddie’s combination of a linked coilover front suspension, internal rollcage, and payload of compartmentalized camping gear gets it done—at least for now. His tentative to-do list includes deciding whether or not to link the rear suspension, and adding more to his rollcage. And, as Eddie put it, “When the old-school 383 gives up the ghost, I’ll be swapping in a Gen V series engine, at least a 6.2, maybe an LT4.”
The carbureted 454 that came with Eddie’s 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer didn’t last too long. Instead, he chose a stroked 383 for motive power. You’ll find no carburetor under the hood; instead, a TPI manifold, MSD ignition system, and MegaSquirt EFI make sure gas is turned into pure horsepower. Behind the engine sits the SM465 transmission, and its 6.55:1 granny gear contributes to the Blazer’s 159.2 crawl ratio. Eddie used 2.5-inch tubing to direct gases from the Sanderson headers into the 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust.
“I wanted everything where I can reach it with my harness on,” is how Eddie explained the layout of the 1984 Chevy K5 Blazer’s cab. While he’s firmly planted in his PRP Daily Driver seat and restrained by a four-point harness, he can easily get to the console, dash controls, and his iPad held in place by a RAM mount.
His custom-built console sports a vinyl wrap courtesy of Eddie’s friend, which is home to the display for the ARB fridge, the triple-stick controls for the NP205 and its Magnum Underdrive, switches for the air compressor, locking differentials, and off-road lights; and USB charge ports. The parking brake handle came from a ’90s Camaro. Communication devices include a 50W BTECH race radio and a Cobra 19 DV IV CB radio.
Starting with some parts from DIY4X, Eddie built a rollcage for the Blazer’s cab, which he plans to extend to the rear of the rig.
Wheels and Tires
Eddie’s logic for the 40-inch boots on the Blazer goes like this: “I’ve run 35s forever, and I wanted to go bigger so I wasn’t dragging the axles over rocks. I was gonna do 37s, but I have a lot of buddies in the Jeep club who say 37s are the new 35s. Then I looked at Stephen Watson at Offroad Design who has 40-inch Nittos on his trucks, and he raves about them, so I went for it.” Don’t forget about the 17×9.5 aluminum Pro Comp wheels.
Wheelwell modifications were necessary to stuff and tuck the 40-inch meats. “I trimmed as much as I could without gutting the inner fenders and it is maxxed. “
Eddie took his Dana 60 down to bare metal before dressing it up with 35-spline axleshafts, Yukon hubs, with an ARB Air Locker and 4.56:1 gears behind his RuffStuff differential cover. Ram 3500 brakes found their way onto the frontend thanks to the kit from Torq Motorsports and even though “they barely clear the 17-inch wheels, they’re worth it.” You won’t see any high-dollar rock lights under the rig; instead, the 4.5-inch bargain-basement round LEDs do a fine job. If one takes an errant stone to the lens, “that’s why I ordered a six-pack of ’em.”
Steering 40-inch tires through bumpy stuff is as important as keeping them straight on the road, and Eddie’s PSC hydraulic-assist crossover steering setup makes that task simple.
The technical reason Eddie selected 14-inch-travel King 2.5 coilovers? He’s seen them performing on race trucks for decades. The not-so-technical reason? “I like the blue. The truck’s mostly black and tan, so it’s gotta have some color in there.” King 2.5-inch hydraulic bumpstops are also on hand to keep the axle from smashing into the frame.
Eddie chose Offroad Design for his front suspension links, first, because “the company’s local, family-owned, they eat, breathe, and sleep Square Bodies; and they’ll talk tech with you all day.” He’s also a fan of the 2-inch-diameter, 0.25-inch-wall tubing used in the four-link conversion kit. With 1.96:1, 2.72:1, and 5.33:1 low-range ratios, the NP205 transfer case and Offroad Design Magnum Underdrive give him more than enough choices when it comes to how fast or slow he wants to take on obstacles. 1350-series driveshafts from Adams Driveshaft & Off Road get the power out to both axles.
Once he’s sick of the traction bar tearing its weld off at the axletube, Eddie has an AAM 10.5-inch rearend sitting at the ready in his garage. Until then, the semi-float 14-bolt with its 4.56 gears and ARB Air Locker get the job done.
Offroad Design and Alcan are at work in the Blazer’s rear suspension with 52-inch leaf springs and a 4-inch shackle flip, while a pair of Pro Comp shocks are on duty to damp the axle’s movements.
Fabricated from a mix of 2- and 1.75-inch-diameter tubing, Eddie’s bumper was home-built and is full of function. A single 150-watt halogen KC light sits at each end of a Badlands 12,000-pound winch, while a quartet of New Osram 60-watt LED headlamps take care of non-trail illumination. The bumper’s hoop is extended to give Eddie an idea of where the front end of his rig sits when squaring up to obstacles (or garage doors), and the tubing ties into his custom-fabbed radiator skidplate underneath.
“I wanted a swing-down tire carrier instead of one that swings out, so I can stand on the thing to climb into the truck. You also don’t wanna pick up a 40-inch spare (roughly 134 pounds with the wheel) by yourself all the time.” Eddie lifted the springs from a heavy equipment trailer ramp and devised his swing-down system. He found that two springs were too much and wouldn’t let the tire lower, so he opted for a single spring. A pair of red pins keep the carrier locked in its upright position.
In addition to adhering to the black-and-tan color scheme of the rig, Eddie says the Softopper was “a very good investment,” and he will “never go back to a hardtop.” “It’s lighter, you can roll it up and run like a safari top, and you can fold it back by yourself.”
When it came to the cargo area of the truck Eddie told us, “I wanted to sleep in the back and I wanted storage, and I was also lucky the ARB fridge fit below the sides of the bed.” His solution to organization was a wooden divider system with a platform for his 4-inch memory foam mattress. On the driver side there are two 5-gallon water cans strapped into place, next to the ARB fridge and its sliding tray. About the bins on the passenger side: “I used to just push the bins in until I built the slide. I modeled it after the fridge slide and used angle iron with rollerblade wheel bearings. I’ll rotate bins in and out of the truck based on the trip to leave heavy stuff at home.”
The ARB fridge is connected to its own separate AGM battery under the hood, and when the rig is parked at home, a power port through the bedside allows Eddie to pre-chill the unit for the next trip.
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