Ace of Base: 1994 Chevrolet Blazer
GM churned out examples of the full-size, two-door Blazer well into the ‘90s, before relegating the nameplate to its littler brother. Traditionalists frothed at the time, just as we are now after viewing the 2019 Blazer. And the circle continues.
For ’94, Chevy offered the Blazer in a couple of different flavors. You know my pick, of course – base 5.7-liter V8 engine, 4WD, and a big ol’ baseball bat of a manual shifter sticking out of the floor.
Insofar as I can tell with the myriad of imperfect records I found (I’m pretty sure the images here are of ’92 or ’93 models; the ’94 grille was slightly more pronounced), the 1994 Blazer was offered in three styles: Base, Silverado, and a Sport model that added color-keyed trim and a very ‘90s red-outline bowtie. GROUND EFFECTS (remember them?) were often a dealer installed accessory around these parts.
Standard under the hood of all Blazers for 1994 was a 5.7L V8 with electronic fuel injection, back when EFI was still worth bragging about and advertised in billboard-sized letters on its tailgate. Total output was a whopping 200 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Consider for a minute that the Focus RS makes 350/350 out of just a 2.3L displacement. Yes, because turbocharger, but still.
A five-speed stick protruded through the Blazer’s floorboards and shifted with all the precision of closet door with one hinge. Magazines at the time said the 4,600 lb SUV could haul its way to 60 mph in about ten seconds. Fuel mileage? None to speak of.
Inside, the Blazer soldiered on with the C/K pickup’s interior. You’ll remember that as the one designed with a T-square, including a pod-style radio that put a knee squarely in the groin of aftermarket audio shops across the land. That is, until all hands figured out that a single-DIN head unit would fit very neatly into a storage slot located dead-centre of the plastic dashboard. GM itself would occasionally put a tape player and graphic equalizer in that same spot, but only rarely. I have seen two in my lifetime.
All-terrain rubber sized 225/75/16 might not sound like much today, but was plenty big twenty years ago. Anti-lock brakes were standard; it should be noted that, for years, the brake pedal of Chevy trucks had the words “Disc Brakes” molded into the rubber pad. The Blazer could tow 7,000 lbs.
Sure, the new Blazer is nothing like the old ones … and I would definitely be lying if I said my eye didn’t twitch when looking at its crossover styling cues, especially at the rear. However, like it or not, those are the machines that sell. GM is not in the business of losing money, or indeed catering to a small cadre of misty-eyed nostalgic gearheads who probably wouldn’t buy a new Blazer anyways (do the words “I’ll wait until they show up at auction!” sound familiar?)
But in 1994, Pulp Fiction was in theatres, R.E.M was on the radio asking Kenneth for the frequency, and the Blazer was a full-size SUV with a stickshift. Sounds pretty good to me.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.
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On the stereo oddly most of the early GMT 400 trucks I have been in had the cassette deck. I know the silverado that GM donated to our school autoshop had the equalizer too. At an old job we had a 94 suburban as a shop truck and it had a CD player mounted in the cassette area factory. I can only find one picture online and it's of one not installed. http://www.gmt400.com/data/attachments/177/177185-27c88e0f8e20afd13362935182219a27.jpg
I think the 88-98 GM trucks were some of the cleanest designs ever in the pickup truck world. Very classy design that has aged well. The pre '96 TBI versions, though, were pretty weak engine-wise, and the later Vortec equipped models from around '96 and up were a lot better. I'm probably in the minority that prefer the early GMT400 dash, i.e. the one with the digital radio and climate control pod lower dash line, no passenger airbag, versus the later, "better" more conventional unit. My perfect GM truck of the era would be an early dash model, early quad small sealed beams (late 80's I think), later Vortec engine.