THE CLASSIC AMERICAN SUV

Sometimes our builds don’t quite go as planned, as made evident by this timeless 1975 Square-body GMC Jimmy. Purchased in 2012 as a rusted out, worn out, but mostly original second generation GMC Jimmy (twin brother to the Chevrolet K5 Blazer), the owner’s plans for this vehicle took a 180-degree turn half-way through the build, when he accidentally fell in love with it and decided to not cut it up and turn it into a rock crawler, and instead commenced a proper restoration.

GM’s first-generation Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy were introduced to the public in 1968 for the 1969 model year (1970 for the Jimmy). Unlike Ford, International Harvester and Jeep, GM opted to not heavily invest in engineering a bespoke chassis and body from scratch for their new SUV and instead based it on their full-size GM truck line, just like they had been doing with the Suburban since 1935. Because of this direction, the resulting first-generation Blazer/Jimmy was a much larger SUV than what was offered by the competition. Featuring a much wider stance, longer wheel base and fully removable roof from the windshield back, the Blazer and Jimmy were immediately successful and by 1970 was outselling both the Bronco and the International Scout – today prices for restored examples of these trucks sell for big money!

Enter the second-generation K5 Blazer and GMC Jimmy. Introduced for the 1973 model year, GM replaced the aging “Action Line” body style with the ironically named “rounded line” body style, better known today as the “Square-body,” but maintained the original formula of basing the vehicle on their newly introduced pickup truck’s high-tensile strength carbon steel chassis and futuristic body design, while maintaining a fully removable roof from the windshield back and frameless doors through 1975. In 1976, GM added a half-cab design that shared the roof and doors from the pickup trucks, and shortened the removable roof to just the rear half of the vehicle, making the 1973-1975 full-convertible Blazers and Jimmys the most desirable from that era. Serving as personal action luxury vehicles of the 1970s, the 1973 and newer Blazers and Jimmys came with tons of luxurious amenities, like power disc brakes, variable ratio power steering, 4-season climate control, the use of soft-touch materials throughout the interior, woodgrain and aluminum trim, bright metal work, plush full cabin carpeting, sound deadening and more. However, these trucks were more than just trendy grocery getters, they were built tough! With a bulletproof powertrain and military-proven drivetrain, these vehicles could get you anywhere you needed to go on-road or, preferably, off!

This lovingly restored and upgraded 1975 full-convertible square-body Jimmy featured here as one of the coveted few Clarion Builds Street Team vehicles, was not and continues not to be a garage queen. It has been in active duty since it was first purchased in 1974 covering a reported 178,000 miles before the start of the restoration. A work-in-progress for five years and counting, the long list of notable restoration and upgrade items include:

·      Tons of metal work to repair rust

·      Complete paint job in Toyota 6V7 Army Green by Inland Empire Collision Center

·      All weather stripping and seals were replaced

·      Factory seats updated with added bolster and reupholstered with black Carrara Allente faux leather and custom interior quarter panels done by Mike’s Auto Tops

·      Interior floors sprayed with LineX coating for sound deadening, covered with complete premium ACC carpet kit

·      350ci V8, decked and ported heads, Edelbrock Performer-Plus camshaft, Edelbrock Performer dual plane intake manifold, Mallory high-energy ignition distributor, Jet Performance stage 2 Quadrajet carburetor – Good for 320hp

·      Custom dual exhaust system with Flowmaster 40-series mufflers

·      Champion 3-row aluminum radiator

·      Rebuilt Turbo Hydramatic 350 transmission with B&M shift kit, New Process NP203 transfer case converted to part-time all-wheel-drive, Warn locking front hubs

·      Rebuilt Dana 44 front axle with 3.73 gearing, rebuilt GM 12-bolt rear axle with 3.73 gearing

·      4-inch suspension lift front and back with added zero-rate springs in the rear and Bilstein 5125 shock absorbers

·      15”x8” Black Rock wheels with 33x12.5r15 BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO tires

·      KC H4 Headlight Conversion, 2x 7-inch round LED spot lights

·      Heavy-duty Smittybilt front bumper, custom fabricated rear tube bumper

·      Entire heater and AC system replaced and upgraded with modern Sanden 508 AC compressor, parallel flow condenser and R134a retrofit for ice-cold AC

·      Rebuilt (1987 model) Delco ETR 2700 am/fm digital tuner radio upgraded with a Bluetooth receiver

·      Clarion XC2510 4+1 channel micro amplifier with Clarion SRG1623R speakers mounted in custom interior panels, Clarion SRG6933R speakers mounted in rear interior quarter panels and Clarion WG3020D subwoofer in sealed enclosure

While the project has taken a dramatic U-turn from the original plans, we must say it looks extremely rugged, yet attractive, and we appreciate the direction taken as far as the restoration goes. With an example this nice, it’s easy to see why these vehicles were so popular when they were new, and skyrocketing in value today. As a true enthusiast, our Clarion Builds Street Team member that owns this unique vehicle doesn’t baby this thing. He actually built it to enjoy it and he drives it almost daily, taking it on numerous long trips and off-road excursions – never once breaking down or leaving him stranded!