It is July 2020, and we were attending the annual South East Trucking Nationals in Lebanon, Tennessee. Over 1,000 trucks were on display at the Wilson County Fair Grounds, and so, so many people came just to walk through the many rows of special trucks. Even parts venders lined some aisles!
Of the very few 1969-72 Chevrolet Blazers at the show, one really caught our attention.
It was owned by Steve McDonald of Arab, Alabama. He always stayed nearby to be available for the many questions people asked. We certainly enjoyed hearing the numerous details of such an exceptional 1972 Chevrolet Highlander Blazer.
Steve is a wealth of information on 1955-72 Chevrolet trucks. There were few questions he was not able to answer on these early vehicles. His only hobby is these GM trucks. Most of all, he enjoys the search and collecting rare factory options and dealer installed GM truck accessories.
Over the years Steve has obtained almost forgotten GM truck items such as an under-dash CB radio and a truck 8 track stereo player; all pure factory extras with the GM logo on their front.
The Scottish Plaid is a Real Eye-catcher
He has eleven special Chevrolet trucks, of which three are his regular drivers. These are 1959 deluxe short bed ½ ton, 1966 deluxe ½ ton Fleetside with a rare yellow factory color, and this 1972 Blazer (Actually, the Blazer is his Sunday driver only, unless he drives it 250 miles one-way to this large Tennessee truck show). The interior and exterior are beautiful examples of how they were when new.
These special options came from the factory on Steve’s Blazer. The attached inside glove box sheets (in excellent condition) shows what came extra when this Blazer was new.
350 Cubic Inch V-8 With 4 Barrel Carburetor 350 Turbo Hydromatic Transmission 3.73 Geared Differential Power Steering and Power Disc Front Breaks Tilt Steering Column Factory Air-Conditioning Over Flow Radiator Tank Hawaiian Blue paint
The 1972 Highlander Option
A different twist! There was a new option in mid-1972 that few people know about, or were even aware of almost 50 years ago. When you see Steve’s Blazer, you know something is very different than normal. Steve’s Blazer came from the factory (last half of 1972) as a pure Highlander.
The focal point of this short lived Highlander is the attractive Scottish plaid nylon cloth seat inserts. Four plaid inserts were available depending on the exterior color.
GM used the 1972 Cheyenne Super seat but instead of Houndstooth inserts, they substituted this unique plaid material. The vinyl seat edging were off-white parchment with all four placed colors.
Actually, the more advertised feature of the Highlander was three pre-installed option packages. Chevrolet put together several popular factory options in the base package in the pickup and reduced the total regular price as much as $260.00. Original equipment option (standard on the Highlander package A) was chrome front bumper, upper body moldings, door edge guards, and Below-Eye-Line door mounted mirrors.
Package B included the above items plus Turbo Hydromatic transmission, power steering and tilt steering column. Package C added the above plus air-conditioning and Soft-Ray tinted windows.
In today’s world, Highlanders has been mostly forgotten. Unless you bought one new or located an original piece of sales literature, it is likely that even GM truck lovers were not aware they existed.
It is said what encouraged General Motors to introduce the Blazer was the U.S. Post Service needs for local mail delivery.
The major car and truck U.S. producers were given the specifications on what was needed. This would be a very large contract for the winner! General Motors was already in the “driver’s seat” to win. The frame length on their short bed ½ ton wheelbase would be shortened from 115” to 104”. Modifying short Fleet sides saved so much in design and tooling. GM was already using the drive train, front sheet metal, seats, window glass, tailgate, dash instruments, and much of the bed sides in their pickups. The other US manufacturers did not have a chance! These Post Office Blazers were sold before production began. What a deal for General Motors!
The Postal Service required the wheel base to be reduced from the 115” on GM’s current short bed ½ ton to 104”. This would allow the Blazer better turning ability to maneuver tight corners on narrow streets in older neighborhoods. They could also back up more successfully in tight places.
Because of using US government tax money, the new Blazers were required to be what we call “Bare Bones”. The engine would be GM’s bullet proof proven 250 six cylinder, no back seat or passenger front seat and no power options. Most were ordered as 2 wheel drive and one color. Even their all stainless steel one piece full wheel covers were used a few years before 1970 on the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Blazer Spare Tire Mount
A rarely seen view of the Blazer spare tire mount. When you preferred to keep you spare inside for security or just to lower the cost over an outside swing bracket, GM provided this special two foot mount behind the rear seat. It is secured by fasteners to the metal Blazer floor.
The old saying “Follow the Money” applies with the creation of the Blazer. General Motors saw great potential in this new postal vehicle. With many more options already on their pickup, it just might become a good seller.
The two wheel drive and the six cylinder engine would be standard equipment at no extra cost. GM sold about 10% of these as the base price engines but 90% of the 350 V-8 engines by the Chevy dealers.
GMC Does it Too
GMC also offered this body style so their dealers could be competitive. They are referred to as “GMC JIMMY”. Their name plate will attach to the same fender holes as the Blazer.
So the GMC Jimmy could be different from the Blazer’s Scottish plaid seats, GM turned the material 90 degrees to the side; thus, a slightly different look.
In summary, the Blazer has been one of the success stories in GM history. Today, a nice well-kept Blazer of the early years far surpasses their value of 50 years ago! Thank you, US Postal Service!
Oops! Let’s not forget the special Blazer made fiberglass top.
Blazer Top Facts
At a recent truck show a 1972 GM Blazer was so original that several special points should be shown on the vehicle’s unaltered fiberglass top.
Two dome lights are on the left interior side. This allows light for passengers on the front and rear seat. These lights are the same as in the pickup and Big trucks above their rear window.
As this fiberglass top is made to be removed, GM installed an electric plug warning plate. This was to remind the owner that when removing the top you must remove the electric plug from the top. This connected the main wiring harness to the wires in the top that lead to the two dome lights. As the top is fiberglass, there must be a ground wire in the harness to allow for current flow to the body.
A clothes hanger hook is behind the front dome light.
Another touch that added to the Blazer’s popularity was the removable fiberglass top. Two people could remove it, and you then had an open vehicle for nice days! Of course, if you were away from home base and a rain storm developed, you immediately looked for an overpass, parked in a coin-operated car wash, or maybe got under a tree!
The photos above are from “our” 1967-72 tech articles under Features. http://oldchevytrucks.com/blog/index.php/2014/09/blazer-top-facts/
You can contact Steve McDonald at: firstname.lastname@example.org