It all starts the same for those of us who craft our own vehicles: we have a vision. Some of us just want to build a rock crawler that does the job, others want to craft a turbocharged sand rail that will take the family out on the dunes anytime it’s needed. Then there are guys like Shane McKinsey, who want to make their vehicle–in this case, a ’94 S-10 Chevy Blazer–not just a personal statement, but a tribute to those who defend our nation from enemies both foreign and domestic.
The 25-year-old from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, was bitten by the off-road bug as a teenager after witnessing the lifted Ford Ranger his brother owned. “I dreamed of having my own [off-road vehicle] from then on,” says McKinsey. His first Blazer, also a 1994 model, had to be sold off when the young man was just 18.
“[Back in 2010], I was driving around and saw this truck parked off the side of the road and fell in love,” states McKinsey. “I’m not sure what it is about first-generation Blazers that I seem drawn to, but everyone I knew was telling me that the vehicle fit me. I wasn’t too sure at the time, but then I had this vision pop into my head, so I started the build and I realized, wow, so that’s what everyone was talking about.'”
The vision that McKinsey had was to create a custom Blazer worthy of the military heritage that rippled not just through his heritage (his grandfather had served in WWII), but through the territory as well. McKinsey’s hometown, as it happens, is situated between the military-heavy towns of York to the northeast, and Hanover to the southwest. National Guard and Army Reserve servicemen and women fill the community with a sense of purpose and pride, and McKinsey hoped to speak to those feelings with his creation.
At the start of the build in 2011, the man went for a new look on an old truck. He painted the wheels a forest green, slapped on a set of 31-inch Goodyear All Terrains, and found a set of woodland camouflage decals to adorn the doors and hood.
The hunting mods and general improvements led to a front brush guard, hood deflector, and windshield visor to boost visibility, not just for the driver, but for general passersby as well. But it wasn’t enough to really set the Blazer (aka “Li’l Deuce”) apart. “At that time, the whole army thing just kept popping into my head,” explained McKinsey. “So I had to change it.”
McKinsey went for the current theme back in January of this year, upping the ante with a gallon of olive drab paint from BAPS Paint. “I told them I wanted a shade as close to that WWII-era green as they could find, and got to work,” says McKinsey. “Meanwhile, the rims got done up in a flat black.”
And after some unique stenciling on the sides mimicking that of military vehicles, as well as a custom job done to the hood, the Li’l Deuce achieved its current state of perfection. Some of the other changes included LED foglights and a light bar, a handmade brush guard, and a Thrush muffler with high-flow catalytic converter.
The Li’l Deuce sees light off-roading every now and then, whether it’s in an empty field or dirt pathway. But much more than that, the Blazer is a rugged ally to McKinsey, and one that’s brought him fame and fortune: “This truck has been faithful to me during the four years I have owned it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s how I met my wife and started my life with her. The Li’l Deuce is my dream come true … [and] most certainly the best idea I’ve ever had for a truck!”
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