Tierra Del Sol (TDS) is one of the biggest off-road events held here in Southern California. Held over a vast swath of arid desert near the Salton Sea, it attracts thousands of off-road enthusiasts (primarily Jeep owners) who yearn to crawl, slog, and battle their way up rocks and trails that stretch on for miles.
As an event, it’s a great way to test out a build’s mettle against the elements and see if it can endure punishment without breaking. One vehicle that seemed to fit this bill was this 1982 Chevrolet K5 Blazer, belonging to Ruben Ruiz.
I keep coming back here. The environment, the people, it’s beautiful. – Ruben Ruiz, on Tierra del Sol
Ruben originally bought the Chevy to haul around his quad, but after watching trucks off-road and doing some on his own, Ruben got the “bug” to build up a rig for himself. “I did in bursts, like a lot of folks,” he said. “Sometimes I did a lot at a time, others I did only a little. There was always something to improve.”
The Blazer hoofs around on a 350 SBC V8. It’s connected to a manual four-speed SM465 transmission and an NP205 transfer case, which routes power to a GM 14-bolt rearend and a Dana 60 front end, both with a 4.56:1 gear ratio. Eaton Detroit Lockers front and rear give added limited-slip traction when and where it counts.
Other notable features of the Blazer are its Bilstein 5150 shock absorbers, joined by “rear” leaf springs up front and “longer” leaf springs out back. Ruben runs lighting with HIDs and HID conversions. “No light bar, ’cause I like to keep it old school,” he explained.
Inside, the handiwork of Ruben and one of his friends is highlighted in the protective cage. “It took us a good two years to get that set up,” he said. “We got half of the cage done one year, came out here and tested it, and the next year we finished it.”
As an Azusa, California native, Ruben has been able to take his Blazer to multiple areas. “I’ve been to Calico Trail, Johnson Valley, Pismo Dunes, Glamis, Tierra Del Sol, obviously, and Cleghorn Trail,” he said.
With a truck like this, Ruben truly has himself a machine that can conquer the landscape. Stay tuned for more of our coverage of the 2017 Tierra Del Sol!