1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST: Don’t mess with Grandma!

(First published 8 August 2016.) You didn’t mess with my grandma. She was barely 5 feet tall, but she swore like a sailor and drank like a fish. And she always drove 4-wheel-drive trucks. One of them was an orange 1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST very much like this one.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer d

Grandma was so short she had to grab the steering wheel and pull herself up into the cab. That had to really work her biceps! I’ll bet it gave her a mean right cross. But had she ever needed to defend herself, she would have instead reached for the .22 pistol she always kept in her purse.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer b

My favorite place to ride was the front passenger seat, and I called shotgun as often as I could. Even though SUVs weren’t common in the 1970s like they are today  — we didn’t even have the term “SUV” then — riding around in that seat didn’t exactly give me the rooftop view of traffic that you might think. Grandma lived in rural southwest Michigan, where serious winter snow and unplowed side roads meant almost everyone owned four-wheel-drive trucks. I was used to looking at tailgates ahead as we rolled down the road.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer f

Grandma preferred the lightly traveled gravel back roads to the highways, though, and so I got to take in a lot of Michigan’s beauty while riding with her. Even when I had to ride in the high and upright back seat, I had a good view. That seat also sat a good distance back from the front seats, giving unbelievable legroom. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but now I think GM should have moved that seat a foot or so forward to give more aft cargo space. It was pretty tight back there.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer c

Grandma and Grandpa had been a one-truck family (a 1972 Dodge 100 Power Wagon) until the grandkids started coming to visit for extended stays every summer. Riding four abreast in Grandpa’s truck worked while we were all very little, but as we grew the cab became too cramped and so Grandma bought the Blazer. We ran around all over southwest Michigan together running errands and visiting various taverns for lunch or dinner and, for Grandma and Grandpa, always a beer. I knew then that back home in Indiana I wasn’t allowed in taverns. Maybe Michigan’s laws were different. Or maybe it helped a lot that Grandma and Grandpa seemed to know every law-enforcement officer in six or seven counties. Perhaps Grandma’s smile, nod, and words of greeting to any deputy who stopped in were enough to secure us. We were certainly less uptight about such things forty years ago.

1972 Chevrolet Blazer a

After Grandpa finally retired, they sold both trucks and bought a top-trim 1978 Bronco in gold with a white top. The CST package meant Grandma’s Blazer was top-trim too. This is what passed for luxury in an SUV in 1972. Today, these big body-on-frame SUVs are all but gone out here in rust country.

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19 responses to “1972 Chevrolet K/5 Blazer CST: Don’t mess with Grandma!”

  1. J P Avatar

    I enjoyed this story just as much as I did when it ran originally. Grandparents cars are memorable. My favorite grandparent car was my maternal grandma’s pink and white 55 DeSoto sedan, a car she drove until the starter went out in the summer of 1967, when it seemed crazy-old.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That DeSoto lasted a good long time! Sure seems like a starter is an easily repairable/replaceable item, though. I wonder why that sidelined the car.

      1. J P Avatar

        She was a widow and depended on her car. Back then a 12 year old car was positively jurassic, and she got the idea that this was probably the first in a string of repairs. Also, it was a small town without a Mopar dealership and she had been getting it serviced at the Pontiac dealer, who surely suggested that parts were becoming a problem. She bought a used 64 Pontiac from them.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Funny how things change. I drive a nine year old VW sedan and it looks like most other cars built today.

  2. Kevin Avatar

    Great post, somehow I missed this one when it originally ran. My granddad’s “car” was a 1972 Ford F100, which he bought new and kept in pristine shape until his death in 1987. Some of my best memories with my granddad are of rides in that truck.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      15 years with a 1972-vintage vehicle took real dedication on your grandfather’s part!

  3. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    You’ll find plenty of them in the Southwest where they don’t rust! I picked up a 1995 Tahoe two summers ago to replace my ’00 S-10 Blazer. Not nearly as beautiful as Chevy was making in the ’70s but I suppose it’s on the way to being an antique.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That era of Chevy trucks wore crisp, clean styling. You’ll get no complaints from me!

  4. Dan Avatar

    Oh, that is one of my dream vehicles!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was a lot of fun to ride around in!

  5. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Nice! Tough grandmother, as well. These were real utility vehicles, from a time before they became wimpified play-trucklets for the mall crowd. I never ever see current American SUVs in Africa, Nepal, or anyplace where the going gets tough and the truck is expected to work reliably. (Or just plain work.,)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Most American SUVs aren’t really SUVs, being built on car chassis. We have very few true utility vehicles available for purchase here now!

  6. Roger Meade Avatar
    Roger Meade

    Great story. I never got to ride in Grandpa or Grandma’s truck. Paternal Grandpa died long before I was born, and maternal Grandpa & Grandma were too poor to ever own a vehicle, truck or otherwise.

    I do remember watching many, many of a later year version of the K5 coming off the assembly line in Flint in the mid ’70’s. A lot of those were in camo for the US Army.

    I worked for GTW Railroad. We had four bi-level loading tracks in Flint, each of which held 5 90ft rail cars. Each car deck held 5 trucks.The tracks got switched twice a shift usually, maybe only once for third shift. That’s about 1000 K5’s a day, 5 days a week plus more on some Saturdays and a few final assembly repairs on Sunday. Those were the days my friend!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How neat, that you worked for GTW. Their line ran through my hometown, and there were overpasses built to carry the line over certain city streets. Here’s one:


  7. brandib1977 Avatar

    This is so vivid I can almost imagine myself tagging along, sliding around in the backseat in those pre-seatbelt days!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sliding around is right! That vinyl wasn’t very grippy.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Haha. My folks drove a big station wagon when I was a kid. Man, those curves! I got thrown around plenty.

  8. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    Great reminisce, love the pictures of this Blazer. My uncle had a Blazer like this, not nearly as fancy. But it was still one of the coolest cars or trucks from my childhood, that I can think of. His was black with some yellow trim. Drove it in western Michigan so it was a rust bucket by. the early 1980s.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, cars of that era didn’t fare well in Michigan!

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