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Author Topic: Basic History of the K5 Blazer  (Read 3438 times)

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FresnoK5er

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Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« on: March 05, 2009, 04:50:31 PM »

I didn't really know what topic to put this under.  Nice basic history of the K5 and some of the differences in years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_K5_Blazer
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BBC

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 06:40:37 PM »

if it's on wiki, it must be true. :)
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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 07:57:14 PM »

COOL I LIKED IT, IT WAS GOOD INFO ;)
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INCOG

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 10:03:46 AM »

very good info man
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Z

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 12:00:15 PM »

Vic Hickey is recognized for his achievements as an off-road vehicle designer. He helped design vehicles which are cultural icons today such as the Chevrolet Blazer, the Humvee, the Lunar Rover and the legendary off road race vehicle the Baja Boot.

In 1919 Vic Hickey was born in Akron, Ohio. His family moved to South Gate, California soon after his birth. As a boy Hickey spilt his time between South Gate and his grandfather’s ranch in Tenachapi, California. As a young man he found flying, sports (including roller derby), hunting and hot rods interesting. By age 12 he had purchased his first car a Model T Ford and by 16 he had soloed his first airplane. In his teens he raced cars across Southern California’s dry lake beds. He earned his pilots license at age 19. He self taught himself to work on sprint cars, dry lake racers, and Novi Indy Cars.

At age 24 in 1943 he attended the Navy’s pre-flight training program at Cal Poly, San Louis Obispo Campus. He served the Navy during World War II. While in the military he invented a device which converted air-to-ground missiles into ship-to-ship missiles. After the War he returned to Southern California and his young wife Leona.

Hickey met his wife Leona at a California roller rink. As a roller derby racer he had been speeding around the rink, when he accidentally knocked her over. He asked her out. The couple were married for 63 years and had two children Jim and Gail. Because of his family Hickey choose to design, build and repair race cars for others rather than take the risks of driving himself. He once stated, I figured anybody can drive a car, not everyone can build one.

Building and designing innovative vehicles, many well before their time, is what Hickey is most recognized for. He worked on numerous projects many providing long lasting contributions that would help from space exploration to traversing earth’s varied terrain. When he returned from WWII he briefly attended Cal Poly again on the GI Bill and studied Physical Education. He then opened his auto shop in Los Angeles where he specialized in Indy Dragsters. During the Korean War he developed flotation devices and extra wheel kits for Military Jeeps to keep them from getting stuck in rice patties. Rolling with the success from these inventions he felt that a better off-road vehicle could be developed the general public too.

Between 1957 and 1959 Hickey developed an off-road vehicle he called the Trailblazer. His father helped to come up with the name. The vehicle had a prototype General Motors engine which his friend Bill Yeager helped him secure. Ed Cole the General Manager of GM came to California to see the capabilities of Hickey’s new vehicle. Hickey took Cole for a test drive in a dry river bed. Cole ended up driving and pushing the vehicle as hard as he could eventually breaking a tie-rod, suitably impressed with its performance he offered to buy the rights to the vehicle, its name and offered Hickey a job as a research and development engineer. The Trailblazer would not go into GM production as the Blazer until 2001, forty-two years after Hickey conceptualized the vehicle.

While at GM Hickey specialized in designing off-road military vehicles. There he helped develop amphibious vehicles, improved independent suspension which would be used on vehicles designed to explore the lunar landscape. He led the group which built the mobile Geological Trainer for the Apollo Space program as well as the Lunar Rover which went to the moon.

GM gave Hickey a semi-blessing to also work on off-road race vehicles in his shop. In 1967 with the help of friends he built the Baja Boot in 30 days. The Boot was a racing version of the Trailblazer and could hit a top speed of 140 miles per hour. Its first drivers Al Knapp and Drino Miller tested it at the 1967 Baja 1000 where its speed capability proved to be a liability and a rear suspension strut broke. Bud Ekins raced the vehicle at the inaugural 1969, Baja 500 to victory. The Boot had two other famous drivers, Steve McQueen and James Garner. The Baja Boot was the first purpose-built racer for the Baja event.

Hickey left GM in 1968 and set up Hickey Enterprises. He continued to work with GM as a main client for another 13 years. Now having his own shop he had the opportunity to experiment more with the types of off-road vehicles he chose to develop. He designed and built the Banshee for James Garner to race. This vehicle had an Olds Cutlass frame, an aluminum 455-inch Oldsmobile engine and toped out at a speed of 150 miles per hour. Garner won the Riverside Grand Prix in it. While Hickey enjoyed fabricating one-off race cars it was not very profitable. Hickey Enterprises grew beyond just developing race vehicles quickly and included the development and fabrication of aftermarket parts for off-road vehicles including the Blazer, Ford piece of shit and Dodge Ram Trucks. By 1979 the company grew to 140 employees and a catalogue which listed over 1,400 items. Hickey chose to sell the company once it became more focused on manufacturing rather than design.

In semi-retirement he continued designing for GM, U-haul and others. In 1979 Hickey took a contract with the Food Machinery Corporation (FCM) to design a High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheel Vehicle (HMMWV). The vehicle would become known as the Humvee and eventually the Hummer. This vehicle was basically a very heavy duty version of the Baja Boot. The U.S. Army viewed the vehicles at a demonstration and had ten more built for testing. AM General began building the vehicles for the Army. By 1995 over 150,000 Humvees had been built for the U.S. Military and its allies. In 1999 General Motors purchased the name Hummer from AM General and began producing civilian versions of the vehicle.

Hickey and his wife moved to the ranch of their dreams a 900 acre property near Paso Robles. In 2000 they sold the ranch and moved to Arroyo Grande. Hickey passed away of natural causes on June 13, 2003 at the age of 84.

Sources:

Rafferty, Tod. The Achievers, Central California’s Engineering Pioneers. Central Coast History Foundation, San Luis Obispo, CA. 2004.

Obituary Victor Francis Hickey, The San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10 July 2003, p.B2.

Auto Maker, Vic Hickey Loves Cars and it Shows…,English, Jennifer. The San Luis Obispo Tribune, 24 March 2000, p.H1.

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 12:02:17 PM »

The tough-looking dude on the left is Vic Hickey. The equally tough-looking dude on the right, the late Bill Stroppe. Behind them, their respective weapons: the Hickey K/5 Blazer versus the Stroppe Baja piece of shit. And this was long before MT initiated Sport/Utility of the Year. Hickey and Stroppe are each off-roading legends in their own right. The former generally preferred to work his magic on Chevys; the latter was inextricably identified with Ford for nearly 50 years. The friendly bickering between these two competitors, as recounted in our Feb. '72 story, "Friendly Hostility," was laced with barbed wire: Vic accusing Bill of illegally swapping in a 351-cu-in. V-8 in place of the piece of shit's stock 302 and Stroppe chastising Hickey over an abundant use of chrome on the Blazer.

While there are many tunerized sport/utilities out there today carrying $75K pricetags, these rigs could be had for a tenth of that: just $7463 for the piece of shit and only $15 more bought you the Blazer. Associate Editor Chuck Koch declared the Blazer the winner based on roominess, cabin comfort, and stronger brakes-but noted the piece of shit was indeed the better off-roader. Any way you slice it, it's just a different twist on, and another round of, Chevy versus Ford.-Matt Stone

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2009, 12:14:47 PM »

During the development of the Steve McQueen Ferrari Lusso story featured in the second issue of Motor Trend Classic, two human emotions hit hard and rather unexpectedly as I began to record the events of the car's history and restoration. First, the reality that the larger-than-life personality of Steve McQueen is gone, and has been for 25 years. Secondly, the experience of writing about McQueen awakened long-dormant memories of the man himself.

I was introduced to Steve McQueen by my longtime friend, the late Tony Nancy, back in the 1970s. Steve would appear at Tony's legendary upholstery shop to bench race about cars and motorcycles. As long as the gathering remained private, McQueen was "one of the guys," laughing and telling stories. But if a group of strangers or outsiders discovered that Steve McQueen was around, the scene would quickly dissolve. Steve would do an abrupt change in personality, taking on the arrogance of a movie star. Tony, who was well known for his temper, would start telling those who were uninvited to get out of his shop before he tossed them out.



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However, the good times far outweighed the awkward. McQueen enjoyed the idea that he could show up unanticipated at Tony's shop, late at night, and just hang out and be himself. Sometimes he would bring his son Chad, or other racers like Bud Ekins to share in the storytelling. Steve always felt secure within the confines of Tony's shop and the two similar personalities became good friends. Tony actually became General Manager of McQueen's Solar Plastics Engineering Company for a short period and was also responsible for restoring the interiors of several McQueen cars. Tony would always defend McQueen against those who spoke ill of him and proclaimed that when it came to cars and racing, Steve was the real deal.

I was Editor of Off-Road Magazine when racing in Baja became recognized as a real racing event. At the time, Vic Hickey, owner of Hickey Enterprises in Ventura, California, was one of the leading manufacturers of off-road equipment in the country. Hickey had also developed an unreal off-road racing machine called the "Baja Boot" powered by a Chevy V-8 engine. Vic and his wife Lee invited me to tag along with them for the running of the Mexican 1000 Baja Race.


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Hickey had persuaded Steve McQueen to drive the "Baja Boot" under one condition -- that he acted like a race driver and not a movie actor. Without showing the slightest fear, McQueen slid behind the wheel of the powerful machine and took to the dirt with a vengeance. It was not McQueen's driving that impressed me, but the fact that whenever he screwed-up or abused the race car, Hickey would jump in his face and chew his tail up one side and down the other. McQueen did not react like a prima donna movie star, but would stand quiet like a child getting instructions from a parent.

About a year before his passing, I met with Steve at his airplane hanger at the Santa Paula Airport near Ventura, California. Several weeks earlier I had shot photos of Steve flying a Stearman bi-plane he had bought from a friend of mine. On this day I returned to Santa Paula to deliver a half dozen 11x16 prints of that flying adventure. Steve gushed over the images -- especially when he discovered that I wasn't going to send any of them to the National Enquirer.

I noticed that Steve looked tired, he was sporting a scruffy beard, his eyes were dull, and his voice seemed raspy. He claimed to be getting over a bad cold. After some small talk, Steve invited my wife Darlene and me into his hanger for a tour and a detailed account of the hundreds of antique toys and auto memorabilia that filled the hanger. Then a most unusual situation took place.

Possibly feeling protected from the outside world by the closed doors of the hanger, Steve dropped into an old wooden swivel chair and started talking about motorcycle riding, running the Baja, and other random bench racing. He talked about how much he loved flying his airplanes. There was no conversation about his movie roles, just plain racer talk. After a couple of hours, he said he had to close up and head home. We all stepped out of the hanger into a cool breeze blowing in from the nearby ocean. Steve thanked me again for the photos. He promised to sign a poster from his movie Le Mans that I had forgotten to bring to this meeting. We shook hands and he disappeared into the hanger. I never saw Steve McQueen again, but that day provided an insight to the fact that beneath the movie star facade there was the heart of a real racer.

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randy75

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2009, 04:58:45 PM »

thats a good article!!!
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INCOG

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 08:25:02 AM »

eally good man
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FresnoK5er

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Re: Basic History of the K5 Blazer
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 08:32:05 AM »

That Hickey dude was alright in my book, he was from California(well spend most of his life here anyhow).  :D

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