A Big Bruiser Built to be a Cruiser
You just can’t trust Jeremy Rice. You could go into his shop (Tre 5 Customs) and ask for a ‘bag job for your truck, and instead you’ll get… Well, you’ll get a ‘bag job, but you’ll also get reliability and extreme attention to detail, backed by decades of experience. In fact, he’s become pretty well known for continually pulling stunts like this. What’s up with that?
So, when we heard that Jeremy was going to be building a lifted, frame-off K5 Blazer, we were like, “Oh great, he’s at it again!” When we saw the finished product, our worst fears were confirmed—it was more glorious than any man deserved. Luckily, it’s owned by a woman: Jeremy’s wife, Donielle. And it gets driven—a lot.
Now might be a good time for some backstory, which Jeremy provided.
“The truck was bought as a gift to my wife,” he explains. “She was born in ‘87 and the truck is an ‘87, so it kinda worked out cool. I originally bought the truck just to have something kind of cool for our family to cruise around. Well, I bought it sight unseen… and that’s always a mistake. The truck had a bunch of rust and the engine was pretty tired.”
With Jeremy’s connections in the industry, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out some solutions to the truck’s issues. Summit Racing was called up for a truckload of goodies to build a 6.0L Blueprint engine, most of which was documented right here in Street Trucks. And, as if a tweaked 6.0L LS wasn’t already enough, it’s also fed by a Vortec supercharger.
“As most know, we at Tre 5 can’t just put in a nice engine, so we decided to do a full build,” Jeremy says.
For a shop that’s known for slammed, body-dropped rides, the Blazer was a big departure from what Jeremy was used to building.
“I was planning on the full frame and air bag route, but the wife asked if we could lift it instead,” he says. “Since the truck was hers, I agreed. I know how these trucks ride when lifted, so I didn’t want to just go the stock axle with some lift leaves. I reached out to Currie Enterprises, who agreed to build me some one-off axles for the truck. They were built to my specs, and are matching widths front and rear, unlike the stock axles. They also did Jeep JK flanges on the rear axle and knuckles on the front axle. I had them do that so that I could run Baer Brake’s new six-piston caliper, 14-inch rotor, Pro + brake setup, front and rear.”
Jeremy didn’t want to run a typical off-the-shelf lift, so he built a lot of the components himself, but he leaned heavily on other pros who live and breathe lifted trucks to help out where needed.
“When I got to the leaf springs, I didn’t want to go crazy with the suspension and do a link setup with coilovers, but I wanted a smooth ride,” he explains. “Atlas Suspension agreed to make custom leaf packs for the Blazer. They were made 4 inches longer front and rear, with 8 inches of lift. The leaf packs have 10 thinner leaves, rather than a few thick leaves.”
The Blazer was also treated to some other neat suspension tricks to get the ride just right, such as relocating the hangers and shackles to accommodate the longer-than-stock leaf springs. In addition, Jeremy fabricated a new crossover steering setup using a CPP two-wheel drive steering box with a dropped Pitman arm to swing the 20×10-inch KMC Swipe wheels and 37-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires, and Fox 2.0 Emulsion shocks soak up the bumps.
Once the suspension was dialed in, Jeremy tore the whole truck back apart to have ARC Powder Coating in Glendale, Arizona, work its magic and coat all of the chassis parts to take things way beyond your average daily driver!
Of course, the suspension is only part of this Blazer’s magic. How about the unique use of Slosh Tubz and matching inner fender and core support fillers, which are usually seen under air-bagged trucks? And when it came time for the flashier stuff, IKandy Paintworks was called on to handle the majority of the paint and bodywork, which included perfecting all of the sheetmetal under the hood and smoothing out the factory top before applying custom-mixed PPG blue paint with a violet pearl and satin clear.
By now you’ve checked out the photos of the flawless interior, which Jeremy credits TMI Products and Elevated Design for pulling off.
“For the interior, we worked with TMI Products, who recently developed a full interior kit for the truck,” Jeremy says. “Obviously, the front bucket seats and door panels are from TMI, but so are the rear seat cover, the sun visors, dash pad, head liner, quarter panels and the main part of the center console, and even the carpet.”
But, even with all that, the interior still wasn’t done.
“Once we installed all of those parts, the truck went over to Steve at Elevated Design to build out the remaining parts of the interior,” Jeremy says. “Steve built the front part of the center console, which houses the switches for the Detroit E-Lockers, the switch for the exhaust diverters, the AVS push buttons that I wired for the electric windows and rear window, and the Powerbass EQ. Steve fit a pair of 6-inch Powerbass speakers in the custom built kick panels, and he also built out the rear enclosure that holds two 12-inch subs, the amplifiers and another set of 6-inch speakers. The instrument cluster and dash trim were also smoothed out and painted. The instrument cluster frames out the Dakota Digital HDX gauges, and also holds the Powerbass bluetooth stereo receiver, the Restomod AC controller and the Restomod AC vents.”
There was obviously more work done to the Blazer than we can describe on these pages, but Donielle’s Blazer couldn’t have happened without a ton of help and countless hours.
“I had to sneak in a lot of hours to build this truck for my wife, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people,” Jeremy explains. “Hector has worked for me for a long time, and he worked with me after hours and on the weekends to help out. Frank at Ikandy Paintworks also put in some long hours on the body and paint, while juggling his own customers. Waylon at TMI Products offered up the spot at SEMA 2018, which gave us a deadline in which to complete the truck.”
The instrument cluster frames out the Dakota Digital HDX gauges, and also holds the Powerbass bluetooth stereo receiver, the Restomod AC controller and the Restomod AC vents.
1987 Chevy K5 Blazer
Chassis & Suspension
Work performed by Tre 5 Customs
Relocated front and rear leaf spring hanger and shackle mounts 4 inches further apart
Custom length 8-inch lift Atlas Suspension leaf packs
Fox 2.0 shocks
Custom Currie axles
Detroit E-Locker differentials
Baer six-piston calipers front and rear
Baer 14-inch brake rotors
Baer Remaster brake master cylinder
CPP hydraulic assist booster
CPP 2WD steering box
Custom build crossover steering
Wheels & Tires
20×10 KMC Swipe wheels
37×13.5R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T tires
Engine & Drivetrain
Work performed by Tre 5 Customs and Jason Bowman
New Blueprint Engines 6.0L LS short block from Summit Racing, bored .030 over
Forged flat-top pistons
Trick Flow Gen X cylinder heads
Trick Flow Track Max 291/295 camshaft
Custom front mount intercooler and aluminum charge piping
All American Billet pulley system
Custom 3-inch stainless exhaust with Black Widow mufflers
Aluminum radiator from Brothers Trucks
4L80E transmission from Hughes Performance
Derale transmission cooler with dual fans
Paint & Body
Work performed by IKandy Paintworks and Tre 5 Customs
Modified stock replacement grille from Brothers
Tucked and shaved factory bumpers
Slosh Tubz front wheel tubs
Slosh Tubz engine bay filler panels
Shaved trim, emblems, keyholes, mirrors
Convertible top texture shaved
United Pacific LED lights
LED turn signals in headlight bezels
Custom mixed PPG 3-stage paint by IKandy Paintworks
Interior & Stereo
Work performed by TMI Products and Elevated Design
TMI Products bucket seats in suede and vinyl
TMI Products door panels, dash pad, inner quarter panels, headliner, and center console
Dakota Digital HDX gauge set
Summit Racing steering wheel
Powerbass Bluetooth head unit
Custom speaker enclosures
Restomod Haymaker A/C system
Custom A/C vent panel and control housing