1971 Chevy Blazer Custom - Breezy Blazer
We have been noticing a trend of some cool open-air Chevy/GMC Blazers of the '67-'72 variety at West Coast shows. At last year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, we were attracted to a solid copper '71 Blazer with '67 front sheetmetal in the Dub booth, outfitted with Dub wheels. We were told there were still some final touches to be made to the vehicle. While attending the Goodguys show at Del Mar, California, we saw it in its final attire of two-tone silver and copper paint and Billet Specialties Magnitude wheels, both of which were major improvements.
When Brian Minkow walked into Alan Palmer's Custom Paint and Body shop in Camarillo, California, he had intended to have Alan and his crew perform some minor custom mods to the stock looking '71 Blazer. Alan had in the back of his creative mind an image of a sure show-stopper "Blazer Roadster." After some soul searching and persuasion, Brian gave Alan the go-ahead nod to begin the project.
The body was removed from the factory '71 Blazer frame. The framerails were completely boxed with 3/16-inch plate, then smoothed. The rear framerails received Air Ride welded-in C-notches to allow ample clearance for the rear suspension travel. To allow the truck to drop low, Alan modified all of the inner fenders by cutting a dart into each one. This allowed the wheel and tires to tuck deep into the wheelwells. Next, a removable transmission tubular crossmember was fabricated, which replaced the factory transmission and engine crossmembers. The frame was then loaded onto a trailer and delivered up the hill to Sport Trucks by Dean in Moorpark, California. After its delivery, Dean and his crew began installing an Air Ride Technologies Strong Arm control arms and 'bag system with KYB shocks. The nose was statically lowered by bolting on a pair of McGaughy's 2-inch dropped spindles. The rear suspension consists of an Air Ride Technologies two-link system that locates the GM 12-bolt posi rear end. Coast Driveline stuffed 4.10 gears and a posi-unit into the third member. Braking performance comes from a set of Baer disc brakes with 14-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. Brian's open-air cruiser rolls on a set of Billet Specialties polished aluminum Magnitude wheels, sized 20x8-1/2 up front, and 22x10 in the rear. Then, those were wrapped in Pirelli P Zero 255/30R20 front, and 295/30R22 rear rubber.
The muscle of the Breezy Blazer comes from a GM Performance Parts ZZ 572ci crate engine. An 850cfm four-barrel carburetor feeds a consistent air/fuel mixture to the aluminum, single plane hi-rise intake manifold. A pair of Rewarder 2-inch ceramic-coated block hugger headers direct the burnt gases into Palmer Custom 3-inch exhaust that flows into a pair of Coffin stainless steel mufflers. Dean Sears at Hot Rods by Dean dropped the 572 big-block between the framerails. A Jazz 21-gallon fuel cell supplies ample high-octane nourishment for the mighty 572 powerplant, and was located behind the rear end, between the framerails. To handle the torque and horsepower, the team at Bowtie Overdrives enhanced the 700-R4 Phase 4 automatic transmission with all-new springs, planetary gears, clutch packs, bands, an accumulator, and some valvebody work. A custom-made Griffin aluminum radiator maintains the big-block and 700-R4 transmission's cool temperatures during those hot California summer cruises. The heart-thumping 620 hp and 650 lb-ft of tire-shredding torque transformed Brian's Bow Tie roadster into a Blazin' Blazer.
Alan Palmer swapped the front '71 sheetmetal for the more favorable '67 skin. The hood crease was removed after the leading edge break, creating a flat tabletop appearance. A Mercedes-Benz hood insulation kit was installed to absorb and dissipate the heat from the 572. A pair of custom inner fenders were fabricated, then molded into the '67 front fenders, adding style to the sano engine compartment. Next, the '67 grille Bow Tie emblem was extracted, moldings were polished, and the turn indicators were eliminated. After that, stock '67 headlight bezels were installed behind Chevs of the '40's Halogen headlights, with LED amber turn indicators inside at the bottom. The mono-color-matched bumper was handmade to fit tight against and around the front fender molding and grille chin apron. The cowl vents were patched and smoothed, while the factory size windshield was glued-in flush with the A-pillars. Then, the windshield and A-pillars were laid back 4 inches. If you noticed, the A-pillars drip-rails were removed, smoothed, and reshaped with a nice radius transition at the top. The door top edges were lowered 1-1/2-inches, then capped to bring them level with the top of the rear quarter panels.
To continue the smooth-skin complexion, the door handles were shaved in favor of AutoLoc keyless entry, while bear claw latches and strikers were installed from AutoLoc for guaranteed doorjamb alignment every time. Moving to the rear, the trunk's interior was fabricated from steel with an automated remote action lid. Next, the factory drop-down tailgate rear section was completely removed. Then, a whole new complete rear skin was cut, bent, and fitted to the rear quarter panels. The rear quarter panel body lines were continued with a break line in the rear skin. To allow the new rear section to fit with a form-fitted radius, the rear quarter panel back edges were cut back 2 inches, then the newly shaped and formed rear section edges were radiused to match the rear quarter panels. Scott's Hot Rods in Oxnard, California, made a pair of one-off oval LED taillights, with polished aluminum beauty rings that mount flush with the rear skin. If you noticed, all of the body line edges have been enhanced and sharpened to appear more pronounced. The Flowmaster 4-inch stainless steel double-walled exhaust tips exit through the rear quarter panel's portholes just in front of the rear wheel openings. To achieve a contrasting cool personality for the Cali topless cruiser, Alan Palmer laid out a two-tone graphic scheme, then sprayed it with BASF water-based custom mixes of silver and copper hues that were separated with black pinstripes, then buried the entire surface in multiple coats of clear to achieve its glistening finish.
Peering into the open-air interior, we noticed a custom steel terraced dash with Auto Meter carbon-fiber gauges, water temp, volts, Speedo, tach, fuel, and oil gauges. A chrome ididit tilt steering column was capped with a Billet Specialties custom three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel. The custom steel center console houses the LoKar shifter and Air Ride Technologies pneumatic 'bag controls and two Clarion MAX 675 VD2 touch-screen ultra-fast iPod controlling AM/FM/DVD players. The front unit is also connected to the Clarion Nax-970 HD navigation hard drive. The system is powered by Memphis M-Sync component speakers and Memphis cast framed subwoofers in a custom enclosure. The sound is well balanced and designed to rival the radical ride that it's installed in. The unique audio and visual system was designed by Howard Kruger, while the installation was performed by Jules Angus at Phantom Electronics in Thousand Oaks, California. The crew at J.B. Custom Interior in Camarillo, California, displayed their stitch-craft skills, as they remodeled a pair of Lexus low-back bucket seats for both style and comfort. The back seat was removed from a Lexus, then modified, and also covered in high-quality soft black leather. Next, the insulated floor was covered with Mercedes-Benz pile carpet. The custom-made door panels were also covered in black leather, then recessed into the doors for a flush, clean appearance.
This is the ultimate sunshine cruiser. Brian can be seen rollin' down the SoCal coast highway with the ocean breeze in his hair, rockin' to some Beach Boys tunes, including, "California Dreamin'." We think it's just too cool.