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Military K5 Blazer - US Surplus

Direct Injection

I am all about scenarios. Since I was a kid, I've spent a lot of time planning out the buildups of everything from BMX bikes to musclecars using the latest parts and pieces from magazines and catalogs. The only problem was I never had the cash to build all the projects I envisioned.

My latest brainstorm-some might see it as more of a distraction, really-is the 6.2L-powered diesel K5 Blazer that the U.S. military is unloading on the surplus market by the hundreds. General Motors built the M1009 Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicles (CUCVs) to bridge the tactical gap between the army Jeep and the Humvee. These 4x4s share similarities with their 1-ton K30 pickup brethren (called M1008s), are powered by 135hp and 240-lb-ft 6.2L diesels, and come in numerous camouflage paint schemes.

While the 1-ton pickups generally command a premium price, the Blazers are relatively stripped-down versions of the civilian K5 and can be had for around $1,000. Some of the trucks are complete and can run and drive; others would be better described as scrap metal with VIN tags. In my mind, that makes them perfect platforms for everything from daily drivers to race trucks. Yup, that's right-race trucks. I haven't bought one yet, but I'm definitely in the market. I'd love to get one I could drive home in, but I'd take one of these incomplete trucks, too. If I get one, here are two different buildups I could see myself doing.

Option 1: SnowPlow Truck
A military Blazer can be a great plow truck because its short wheelbase makes it maneuverable, and its 1-ton-rated engine and TH400 transmission mean it can take a lot of abuse. To get the most out of the Blazer, I'd mount a 711/42-foot V-plow and bolt in a Dana 60 front and 14-bolt rear axle from an M1009 CUCV pickup for strength. Then I'd swap in an old NP203 transfer case to get full-time four-wheel drive for better traction and maneuverability and toss a set of studded snow tires on for maximum grip. To offset the extra weight of the snowplow up front, I'd bolt a few hundred pounds of steel plate to the cargo area. For reliability, I'd add a transmission temperature gauge and a huge ATF cooler.

To make sure I could see out of the truck in all weather conditions, I'd retrofit one of GM's new heated windshield-washer fluid systems and make sure to strip any tinting from the windows so I could see out of them at night. I'd also want to add a rearview camera and some bigger sideview mirrors for better visibility. To keep rust and body rot at bay, I'd coat the interior of the truck with spray-in bedliner and fit the K5 with a thick carpet and floormats to keep the interior noise down and the cold air out.

Option 2: Off-Road Race Truck
I know the 6.2L isn't a high-powered engine, but it wouldn't have to be for the diesel Blazer I'd build to win the SCORE Baja 1000. The rules for Class 3 (production-based 4x4 SUVs) that I'd enter has a minimum weight requirement of 3,500 pounds, the trucks must have four-wheel drive, and they also must have wheelbases of no more than 108 inches. I'd build the lightest Blazer I could and capitalize on the diesel's simplicity and fuel economy to best the competition. I figure I could use the 170hp 6.5L out of a naturally aspirated Humvee (turbos aren't allowed), fog it with some propane for more power, and back it with a TH400 three-speed transmission and an NP241 transfer case for stamina.

I'd build Ford 9-inch axles for the front and rear, run proven leaf springs at the corners, damp it with four huge bypass shocks, and stick with lightweight wheels and 33-inch tires to make the engine's job as easy as possible. The truck wouldn't be fast, but it would be light and simple enough that it wouldn't break. Plus, once the engine was running, I could lose the entire electrical system and the 6.5L would still motor until I was out of diesel. Take that, gas-guzzlers! -David Kennedydavid.kennedy@sourceinterlink.com

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