The Perez Family’s Budget-Built ’77 K5 Blazer
Most truck fans are looking for that special pickup they can completely tear down and build back up to their exact specifications. While that does sound like the dream to many of us, there is a side of the process that many don’t fully weigh out before making the big plunge into a years-long, extensive project. We can find plenty of success stories of folks following through and reaching the other side of the tunnel with their full custom-truck builds, but there also seems to be an equal number of in-progress pickups that, for whatever reason, don’t get finished by the hands that started the job.
Lucio Perez of Greensboro, North Carolina, can relate to having to make the hard decision to pass a project on for financial reasons. Some periods of life just aren’t conducive to funding an expensive hobby.
“My wife and I were also expecting a newborn son, so it was also a matter of finding a vehicle that was more family/budget appropriate.”
“Back in early July of 2014, I decided to sell a full build project that I had simply become burnt out on,” Lucio admits. “My wife and I were also expecting a newborn son, so it was also a matter of finding a vehicle that wasww more family/budget appropriate. We needed something that could accommodate a car seat but was still a ‘truck’—a Chevy, of course.”
After just a few weeks of flipping through online listings for classic Chevy trucks, Lucio set his sights on a K5 Blazer.
“I’ve never been a big 4WD guy, but a lot of the ads I was seeing were for those models, so I just let those pass by,” he says. “I began the search locally and then started to expand further away. One morning, as I was making my rounds on Craigslist, I found the perfect K5—and it was only a few counties away! It was a really clean 1977 2WD Blazer that was currently being daily driven and cared for. Once I saw it in person and took it out for a test drive, I knew I wasn’t leaving without this truck.”
“The frontend was outfitted with modified front lower DJM control arms, and the rear was treated to a parallel 4-link and mini-notch in the frame.”
Lucio did purchase the Blazer—at the end of that same month that he sold off his other project. While he doesn’t mean to brag too much about how much he spent on the truck, Lucio shared that after a bit of haggling, he drove the K5 home after reaching a deal with the previous owner: $2,500 cash plus the .40 caliber semi-auto pistol he was carrying at the time. Keep in mind, this was back in 2014. While deals like this are few and far between in today’s marketplace, we never get tired of hearing about the “good ol’ days” of scoring classic trucks for next to nothing. If that wasn’t good enough, Lucio’s deal was then sweetened when the K5’s previous owner surprised him with boxes full of the original one-year ’77 factory yellow trim, the factory center console, and all the original emblems and valve covers.
READY TO RUMBLE
With a solid project in the driveway again, Lucio began to work on the truck once he figured out the direction he wanted to go with it.
“Even though I had some extra money in my pocket and a very clean truck to start with, the most challenging part was finding the time to work on it,” Lucio says. “My biggest inspiration for what I wanted to do with my truck came from all the guys and gals out there who put in the time and hard work to build their trucks in their home garages. When I see people cruising in trucks they built with their own hands and who have the know-how to fix it when things go wrong, it is just so freaking rad to me. I wanted to do the same, so I was going to have to carefully carve out a few hours here and there after work and on the weekends to get it all done. But I was looking forward to it.”
To start the project, the original small-block engine was pulled out, painted, and dressed up. It was already running strong, so Lucio figured tearing it apart wasn’t absolutely necessary. What was necessary, however, was beefing up the 355-cubic-inch power plant with a new Holley carb, a better breathing set of headers, and a 3-inch exhaust system complete with a Flowmaster muffler for an aggressive rumble.
“The K5 project took just about three full years to complete. Lucio estimates that he spent a budget-friendly $15,000 to get it to where it is today …”
Next, Lucio wanted to bring the K5 closer to ground. He enlisted the guidance of Adam Ferguson of Your Custom Car out of Kannapolis, North Carolina, to get the job done right the first time around. The frontend was outfitted with modified front lower DJM control arms, and the rear was treated to a parallel 4-link and mini-notch in the frame. Slam Specialties ’bags and dual Viair compressors assist in creating the fully customizable stance that enhances both the driving and the parking experiences. To fill up the fenders, Lucio selected a staggered set of custom-painted front 22×8.5 and rear 24×10 Intro Vista wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes rubber. It’s apparent why Lucio was hesitant to pull the trigger on a 4WD Blazer; he was looking to go low from the very beginning.
IF IT AIN’T BROKE …
Even though the K5 was clean enough, Lucio already had plans to give it a full external refresh that would honor the classic Chevrolet heritage while still adding his own personal twist to its styling. In the end, a cool combination of satin and gloss black paints came together, broken up by that original yellow body trim. Everything else was left stock for the most part, except for the updated LED headlights and shaved tailgate badge. The final look is clean and classy, and didn’t require Lucio to go overboard with extensive body mods.
To further the simple yet effective approach to finish off the project, Lucio ordered seat covers and carpet from LMC, which he proceeded to install himself to quickly spruce up the K5’s interior. The rest of the cabin was simply cleaned, reconditioned, and re-dyed back to factory specs for that overall fresh feel that is perfect for a family cruiser. Spills and stains won’t be too devastating, and the interior will easily bounce back when they do happen.
The K5 project took just about three full years to complete. Lucio estimates that he spent a budget-friendly $15,000 to get it to where it is today—not too bad for an attractive, classic Chevy truck that can haul the entire family to shows or just around town on the weekends.
“While I did have some professional help along the way during the suspension and paint phases of the build, I was determined to do as much of the work as possible on my own,” Lucio says proudly. “I’m not done with the Blazer by any means, as I would love to swap in a big-block 454, add Hart Fab front inner fenders, Wilwood brakes, and digital gauges, but those will all come in time. For now, the K5 looks and drives great, and fits in perfectly with our family lifestyle.”
1977 Chevy K5 Blazer
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
Shop: Adam Ferguson/Your Custom Car, Kannapolis, NC
Slam Specialties ’bags
Modified DJM lower control arms
Dual Viair compressors
Parallel 4-link rear
Mini-notch and bridge bar
Engine: 1977 Chevy 355c.i. V-8
Edelbrock Performer intake manifold
Holley 750 carb
Rams Horn headers
3-inch Flowmaster exhaust and muffler
1977 Turbo 350 transmission
OEM brakes and master cylinder
BODY & PAINT
Shop: 109 Paint & Collision, Mount Gilead, NC
Gloss black/satin black two-tone paint
Shaved tailgate badge
OEM grille and bumpers
OEM low back seats with original tan vinyl reconditioned to factory specs
OEM steering wheel
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: 22×8.5 and 24×10 Intro Vista wheels
Tires: Toyo Proxes tires