Project Iron Blazer: It All Started With A Simple ’72 Chevy K5 Resto

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Story By Will Marshal

When Griffin Wayne’s 1972 K5 Chevy Blazer first appeared in front of the camera, envy was the first thought that came to mind. We try to never covet thy neighbor’s truck, but in this case, it was just not that easy.

We liked it so much in fact, Wayne allowed Off Road Xtreme to adopt it as one of our projects. Dubbing it Iron Blazer, to pay homage to our love of old 4×4 iron, we’ve already begun to hatch all sorts of plans. For now, though, let us tell you about where it came from, and where it stands today.

When you find a big truck with “Chevrolet” on the tailgate and a beautiful classic GM color on it, you immediately need a closer look. Clean is truly an understatement with this truck. A clean paint job is something that always draws the eye, but when you view a work of automotive art like this, it is so much more desirable.

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Photography by Stuart Bourdon

Wayne chose to have the beautiful lines of his classic K5 sprayed with GM’s Emerald Mist, which is a color chock full of the decade that this vehicle came from. This color is fantastic. It is so rich, and pulls life from a much simpler time. It is truly gorgeous.

New Life Ablaze

The K5’s life did not begin as beautiful as it is today. Wayne’s ’72 Blazer started it’s ownership in the hands of a Long Beach Police officer, who passed the ownership onto his late wife. It had been his dream to restore it, but that vision stopped when he died of cancer.

His widow sought to finish her husband’s dream, and find a new owner who was willing to give the old K5 new life in a loving family. That new owner was none other than Griffin Wayne.

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Manual-locking Warn hubs (front axles) can be seen poking through the classic-style ProComp wheels on the K5; this Blazer still wears its Bowtie boldly on the front grill; Wayne has kept much of the Chevy's vintage body trim.

Originally, it was just going to be something to go play in the dunes with. – Griffin Wayne

When Wayne took on the project, he wanted a solid truck to enjoy with his family, cruising the back roads that trace the mountain sides of Southern California, play in the dunes for the weekend, go for Sunday cruises; and then one day pass on to his children as an heirloom and the remembrance of a project with their dad.

However, what started as a simple engine swap turned into a full restoration from the gauges in the dash all the way down to the differential gears that drive it.

Heart Of Power

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Everyone knows that the heart of General Motors heritage is the engines it builds. From the historic Detroit Diesel’s down to the legendary 350 block, GM motors have powered champion vehicles for a long time, and continues to do so.

So that is where Wayne started, with a 383ci small-block stroker from Patriot Performance. Jimmy Mock of Mock Motorsports in Yorba Linda, California, helped Wayne with the install of the engine, as well as other powertrain components.

Starting with a factory punched-out GM iron block, Wayne’s 383 has been built with the best of the best. It uses goodies like Patriot Performance Freedom series heads, hydraulic rollers, and full roller Scorpion rocker arms, to put out a mind-numbing 450 horsepower and 450 ft/lbs of torque, without even breaking a sweat.

The big engine needed to breath, so a QuickFuel Q series 750 CFM carburetor, Edelbrock Air Gap 7501 intake, Hooker Super Competition headers, and Flowmaster 50 Series exhaust were fitted to help all those horses get made and then be unleashed.

The Off Road Unlimited full crossover steering system and box reversed the steering geometry, and with the introduction of higher quality, heavy-duty components, helped to cure the Blazer's steering troubles with large tires.

From there Wayne moved on to the transmission, a rebuilt TH350 that has been upgraded to handle the extra ponies. The trans was also fitted with a Hughes 2500-rpm stall torque converter, and a B&M Super Cooler was mounted in the front grill.

Behind that, a rebuilt New Process 205 transfer case was fitted to deliver power through custom UniTrax driveshafts to the rebuilt Dana 44 and Corporate 12 bolt axles, both sporting Premium Performance 4.56:1 heat-treated ring and pinion sets and Detroit Trutrac limited-slip diffs.

Long Lift Legs

The big gears throw power down to 35×12.50R15 BFGoodrich All-Terrain TA/KO tires wrapped around 15-inch ProComp aluminum rims. Superlift 8-inch springs were chosen, with ProComp ES3000 shocks, to boost the body up high enough to make the truck look bold and make room for the tall rubber.

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A spider web roll cage of fully welded chromoly tubing that's integrated into the Blazer's body, and a custom aluminum dash panel filled with Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges, are among the interior appointments.

It drives like a brand-new truck now. – Griffin Wayne

All this effort is shadowed by Wayne’s two favorite modifications: The Off Road Unlimited full crossover steering system and box, and a custom .120-wall 4130 chromoly roll cage built by Brian Smith Fabrication of Norco, California.

By changing the steering geometry, and introducing higher quality, heavy-duty components, Wayne cured the Blazer’s steering malaise, and tightened up the driver’s inputs to make an exacting and capable steering system.

Wayne next moved to refinishing the interior. It was done with cloth seats featuring Chevy checkers in a matching green. Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges were fitted into the custom aluminum dash, and a custom top from Softtopper was commissioned to keep the inside clean from the elements.

Great Future Ahead

From what was once clearly a truck borne of the 70’s, is now an entirely new animal that Wayne truly enjoys driving. Now not only can he cruise down PCH without spilling his coffee, but find his way deep into Johnson Valley without worrying about the rod ends.

Wayne has taken an engine swap project and transformed it into a gorgeous truck that turns heads. Not just because of how it looks, but for what it can do, as well.

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This beauty is every bit at home rolling through the sand dunes, or making a trip up to the mountains; and the restoration of the K5 would not have been possible without the love and support of his family and friends over its two-year transformation.

Wayne has plans to revisit areas, eventually stripping out the current suspension for a coil-over and link design, and fitting the Blazer with a larger brake system, but he loves it all the same. It is a bad-ass truck, something many more people would be green with envy for.

Off Road Xtreme can truly appreciate the vision Wayne had when beginning this project, as well as taking on the weight of another man’s dream. We’re sure the officer who started this project so long ago, would be pleased that the truck has passed into its new loving home. Look for the K5 on the trails, as this is no street queen: it was built for adventure.

For more photos of Griffin Wayne’s ’72 K5 Blazer, check out our Gallery below!

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About the author

Stuart Bourdon

A passion for anything automotive (especially off-road vehicles), camping, and photography led to a life exploring the mountains and deserts of the Southwest and Baja, and a career in automotive, outdoor, and RV journalism.
Read My Articles

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