Justin Short is a full-time gearhead and if you ask him why he built his super clean custom 1969 Chevy K5 Blazer, he more than likely will shrug and reply, “Because I don’t know how to do anything else… it’s just what I do.” That philosophy is pretty simple and one that anyone can understand, especially car and truck enthusiasts. Justin busts knuckles on other people’s rides during the day and cranks on his own stuff at night. Previously, Justin built a 1962 Chevy Impala and in the future wants to take a crack at building a custom 1961 Cadillac or 1950 Chevy pickup, but for now we can all admire Justin’s current love affair, an old school bowtie SUV that he cleverly refers to as “The Blaze.”
As with all things, there is a beginning for “The Blaze.” Justin’s truck started out as a simple business transaction, a purchase of automotive property, costing five-hundred “simoleons” which was a tiny investment when compared to the build’s ending tally of $40,000. After taking ownership of the Blazer, Justin immediately began making plans and before long the truck was torn down and the decade long custom truck project began. Since 90% of the truck would be rebuilt by Justin, with a little help from his friend Nathan Coker, it stands to reason why this project would be a long one.
Starting with the foundation, the frame was fully boxed in and Z’ed three inches up front. With plans to lay “The Blaze’s” body on the Tennessee asphalt, on went an adjustable airbag suspension, consisting of McGaughys 2½-inch dropped spindles up front, a Thorbecke four-link in the rear, 2,600-lb Firestone air bags on each corner, and RideTech shocks all the way around. RideTech Big Red valves and two Viair 480c compressors, plumbed with 08AN steel braided air lines, offer reliable and worry-free up and down operation.
Stuffed into each tubbed fender are Hipnotic Roxstar wheels, sized 20-inches up front and 22-inches in the rear. Nitto tires were chosen for this project and up front, 255/25R20s provide the directional input and out back, meaty 265/35R22s provide the power patch. A GM 12-bolt with 3:73 Auburn Locker gearing serves as the rear wheel power distributor, linked via a custom driveline that connects the TH400 transmission built by Rodney Hall.
Power comes from a 1969 Chevy V8 engine bored to 355ci. The internal workings have been turned inside out and fitted with 10:1 flat top pistons, Edelbrock polished aluminum heads, Holley carb, and a Big Mutha Thumpr roller cam. Everything that could be polished or chromed has been except for the engine block. Keeping the power plant cool is a polished aluminum radiator with dual electric fans. A Flowmaster exhaust provides the rumble, with custom side cutouts in the body for a clean appearance. The electrical system stays juiced with a pair of Optima REDTOP batteries.
With a rolling chassis in place, body modifications were next on Justin’s hit list. With wrench in hand, Justin forever removed the fiberglass roof. Up next, the windshield and A-pillars were chopped three inches. The doors and bed rails were re-worked and capped. The end result is a factory-styled roadster that is completely seamless. A body drop was performed guaranteeing a nice ground kissing stance. The door handles, emblems, trim, and door locks were all shaved to give the body a clean and uncluttered look.
A custom louvered tailgate skin was welded and molded in place, as were a pair of Frenched devil taillights. The stock hood was modified to have a forward tilt. Other modifications include molded-in front and rear roll pans, a smoothed wiper cowl, and a shaved firewall. Rather than paint it right away, Justin decided to paint the extreme metalwork in gray primer until he could decide on a color and paint scheme that would be to his satisfaction.
In the truest form, a roadster is open air, no convertible tops, and therefore, an easy-to-view interior. This meant that Justin had to apply a full measure and give the same attention to the interior as he did to the exterior. For starters, a fiberglass dash was fabricated, as was a center console that flows from front to rear. A set of custom door panels were also thrown into the mix. The dash houses a huge center mounted Dakota Digital 55-59 Chevy gauge display and a Pioneer DVD head unit. A polished tilt column is capped with a billet steering wheel and billet hand cranks regulate the side windows. The flooring was fitted with black carpet and the seating and door panels received a combination of black leather with white ostrich inserts. The flawless upholstery work was performed by Tullahoma Seat Cover in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Behind the seats, two 10-inch Pioneer subs were mounted in a custom side panel enclosure and pound on your ear drums thanks to a pair of Massive Audio amps. Mid and high frequencies are supplied via four 6½-inch Cerwin Vega component speakers located in the rear side panels and in kick panels up front. For a while, Justin rocked “The Blaze” as-is in gray primer at a few car shows, but then he became anxious to see his custom truck in glorious full color, so it was time to hit up the paint booth and get rid of the all too bland primer paint job.
Justin knew the modifications to his show rig were so extensive there was no need to get crazy with the paint gun, after all, the body mods alone were attention grabbing and in no short supply! Justin decided to keep it classy and simple by laying down a timeless two-tone PPG Scarlett Red and White Diamond paint scheme for “The Blaze.” After the paint dried, Justin wet sanded, waxed, and buffed his Chevy Blazer to a perfect shine. Standing back from the freshly-completed project, which was ten years in the making, Justin, along with a little help from his good friend Nathan Coker, had created a stunning custom show truck that can be appreciated by both younger and older generations of custom auto enthusiasts.