Rare Manual K5: 1978 Chevrolet Blazer

Oftentimes, when sellers use words like “rare” and “hard to find,” there’s some shades of gray in that description. It could be that the feature that makes it rare is so obscure, it barely registers as significant on most peoples’ radar. Or, it could be that the unusual equipment or spec is only hard to find because it wasn’t desirable in the first place. In the case of this 1978 Chevrolet Blazer, I believe the seller is entitled to call this truck rare, as it’s both a two-wheel drive example and it has a rarely-seen manual transmission paired to the venerable 350 V8. Find it here on eBay where bidding has climbed to over $8,000 with no reserve.

Now, even though it isn’t mentioned, I have to believe this Blazer has been modified slightly, namely in the suspension department. Two-wheel drive or not, these did not ride this low from the factory. The seller doesn’t mention it, so we’re left to use our imaginations in terms of which owner decided to drop the Blazer on its belly, and for what purpose (other than looking cool.) And cool it does look, due in part to the fact that almost every other K5 Blazer is shown at 4WD ride height or much higher assuming a lift kit has been installed. Throw in the manual gearbox and this thing is the polar opposite of almost every other Blazer of this vintage that we’ve written about.

The interior isn’t perfect, nor is any part of the truck, really. The seats are tattered and the paint is faded / damaged in places. But nothing is so bad that you couldn’t just drive the truck as-is, right now, while those smaller issues are fixed. The seller notes the dash has cracks and the headliner is also long gone, but that he’s installed a new black carpet kit and has a spare, good headliner to go along with the sale. The listing claims the truck was originally ordered by a farmer in the Pacific Northwest, and that he believes the hard top has never been removed. The manual transmission is said to shift well and the clutch is noted as feeling “…strong.”

The truck is believed to wear original paint and the engine is numbers matching. The seller says that the truck fires up with ease and drives quite well, and that the indicated mileage of 72,000 is believed to be original. The paintwork does show plenty of wear and baked-in patina, but that’s what makes a truck like this even cooler. I’m sure a Chevy historian could tell us that a K5 Blazer with this exact combination of options is exceedingly rare, and that even fewer are still in road-going condition. If you’re looking for a Blazer you can enjoy without feeling pressure to make it into the ultimate off-road toy, a rare 2WD, manual-shift example should do the trick.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    1st, I could never understand why someone would want a 2 wheel drive Blazer and 2nd, how many people came home with this thinking it WAS a 4wd. Don’t laugh, I knew someone that bought a postal Jeep, because they always wanted a 4×4 Jeep. You can imagine their shock when I pointed out no front drive axle.

    Like 11
    • Drake

      You couldn’t be more correct sir! Before this very moment, I assumed every Blazer was a 4×4! And only until recently did I find out about the mail Jeep!

      Like 1
      • Clinton

        We sold hundreds of 2wd jeep cherokees in the classic body style. 2 door and 4 door variants. They were consigned by the City of Houston when I worked at an auction. I can only imagine all the people who thought they were all 4wd. 🤦‍♂️

        Like 2
    • Stevieg

      I had a 2 wheel drive 1975 Blazer. Bought it used (obviously, since I was 4 when it was built lol). It had inline six & 3 on the tree. Factory no heat. Really cold in Milwaukee’s winters lol! But it went through the snow like a trooper! Good tires & some basic common sense, and it was fine…just really cold! I kept an ice scraper in it to scrape the inside of the windshield, not an easy task while shifting and steering lol.

      Like 2
    • CCFisher

      Adding to the confusion is the “K5” designation. “K” meant 4WD in Chevrolet pickups, so I’m sure many see “K5” and assume all Blazers are 4WD.

      Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    If our ’72 hadn’t had the 4 wheel drive it would be under water in a bog in south Florida to this day. As to lowering this rig I’d probably do the same because it improves handling by overcoming the effects of the short wheelbase. You don’t have to slam it, just down to where this one is. And, if you wife is short like mine, she would appreciate not mountain climbing to get into it.

    Like 7
  3. Steve R

    This is not something a “truck” guy is likely to appreciate, its the “car guy” that wants something to drive to a swapmeet will go for. Its not for everyone, but definitely has a following. Potential owners either don’t need a truck or already have one, the ability to throw something in the back, lock it then walk away is quite useful.

    It’s unique, someone is going to get a cool and truly unique vehicle for not much money.

    Steve R

    Like 7
  4. Wayne

    Is this really a K5 Blazer? I thought that the K designation meant 4X4. This in my mind would be a C5 Blazer or probably more correct just a Blazer. (As it is not an S10 Blazer.)
    I think it is cool. But then I think a lot of weird stuff is cool too.

    Like 10
    • Evan

      There’s a lot of weird theories about this. Yes, of course for pickups, “C” meant 2WD and “K” meant 4WD. However, ALL Blazers, regardless of the number of wheels driven, wore a “K5” badge. But the internal Chevrolet code for a 2WD Blazer was indeed “C5”. AFAIK, there is no official explanation for this from Chevrolet.

      The best theory I have seen suggests that Chevrolet expected so few sales from 2WD models that they didn’t want to pay the costs (however small they might have been) to design and build a “C5” badge.

      So as far as model codes go, this is indeed a C5… but the badges still say “K5”.

      Like 3
      • Evan

        And as far as the small trucks from 82+ go, they all wore “S10” badges, although the internal code for a 4WD (Blazer or pickup) was “T10”.

        Like 1
      • David Skinner

        Another example-

        In 1988, Chevy carried over the old body and chassis on the 3/4 and 1 ton pickups. The fenders said “C” & “K,” but the VIN/internal designation was “R” or “V.” Made the parts guys a little crazy for a year or two until the word spread.

        Like 2
  5. local_sheriff

    To answer your question Wayne; yes this is correctly designated as a K5 Blazer but you’re absolutely right it’s technically a C5. 2wd Blazer/Jimmy production was marginal to say the least compared to the usually seen 4wd. Consequently GM never bothered to have crafted specific ‘C5’ badges. I may recall that ‘C5’ Blazer production ceased in ’82.

    Some 20+ years back I DD’d a similar ’77 ‘C5’ Blazer. It was a bare bones Custom DeLuxe 2wd/ 250 I-6/ 3spd manual truck without PS. It was hands down the easiest and cheapest to maintain vehicle I’ve ever owned. With quality studless tires it was also a fully capable winter vehicle; probably also thanks to having factory Posi. Needless to say driving it on salty winter roads for years killed its body.

    Now why would anyone want a 2wd Blazer? Well, though it’s not fully a terrain vehicle it still has decent capabilities off paved road(read: where NORMAL people would drive…) and its front suspension offers way better comfort than a solid axle. It’s more like a stubby station wagon with lots of ground clearance. 2wd Blazers have become so popular in certain circles that I’ve recently seen for sale multiple 1st and 2nd gen Blazers that are converted from 4×4 vehicles!

    Like 2
  6. Joe Haska

    Howard you never disappoint, if you don’t know, I can’t tell you. Its like when my attorney neighbor asked me, why did I builtd such a big garage.
    Thanks guys for clearing up that K-5, C-5 thing, I always wondered about that.
    I would like to have this one ,it is one of the best original ones,I have ever seen.

    Like 3
  7. TimM

    The square body’s have definitely grown in popularity over the years!! It was a successful run for Chevrolet but if this truck was a 68-72 model it would be at twice the price already!! With that being said someone will get a cool 2×4 for a reasonable price!!

    Like 3
  8. jerry z

    I have looked for 2WD K5 Blazers for many years. Everytime I tried calling, they were sold. Only have seen one ’92 and up 2WD Blazer/Tahoe 2 dr over the last 18 yrs.

  9. Raymond Smith

    Back in the 80s I had a black 74 2wd Blazer lowrider. That was the last year for the fully removable top. It was a looker. Had N50 tires in the back and F50 tires in the front on Keystome Classic wheels. (The old timers know what I am talking about.) Looked like a steamroller coming down the road. It just had 2 captain chairs and no back seat. It was a fun ride for a young kid at the time. Lots of good memories.

    Like 2
    • Terry Bowman

      Raymond, your truck must of look similar as my Van(72′ Dodge). N 50’s on the rear and G 50’s on front. It was a cool sight. Just got rid of it last month. :( NOTE: Just a thought, could this truck be a K-5 (4X4) with a front wheel drive, delete? I know Chrysler did that with many items on their cars.

    • local_sheriff

      ’75 was the last year for the full convertible K5. And no, this ain’t no ‘front wheel drive delete’ version – if you look at the ad you’ll see it has a ‘C’ as 2nd digit in its VIN, identifying this Blazer as a true 2wd just like any other 2wd Squarebody up to ’80.

      FYI you cannot easily convert a Squarebody 4X4 Blazer into a 2wd just by removing the front drive axle – their frames are slightly different in that the 2wd frame narrows in front of the firewall to accommodate the A-arm front end. And converting ’69-’72 4X4 K5s correctly into 2wd is yet another complex task – the 2wd is all coil-sprung…

      Like 3
    • Stevieg

      1975 still had the full top. No big deal, I didn’t realize that until I bought mine.

      Like 1
  10. Tim Pawl

    We ordered a 2 wheel drive manual transmission Blazer in 1976. Installed a Hurst floor shift unit with extended lever, removed rear top and built and bolted on a flat rear cab, making a neat shorter than short bed pickup. Ours was white with a red interior and I put on side trim with red inserts like a 1957 Cameo Carrier. Really loved that truck only problem was it rusted away, Tail gate and hood completely rusted through in three years. I doubt it is still around.

    Like 1
  11. Steve S

    Another thing for Chevy 3/4 and 1 ton trucks the tie rods are interchangeable from the very first 3/4 and 1 ton trucks built to today. My cousins parts guy at a Chevy dealer told him that once because he had to get a new tie rod for his 89 Chevy 1ton 2wd crew cab truck with an 8ft bed. We went to his buddies house to get his trailer and he backed up and there was a wall on the passenger side of the truck that he forgot about. Then passenger side front tire hit it and bent the tie rod and we didn’t know it until we was leaving and noticed that the steering wheel wasn’t straight and something didn’t feel right go down the driveway to the street. Then we stopped and put the truck in park and got out to check the front tires and the passenger front of the passenger front tire was pointing in about 45° or something like that and the drivers side was straight. So we had to get his buddies torch out of the garage to heat it up and straighten the tie rod. My cousins buddy wasn’t home and my cousin knew where he kept his house key.

    Like 1
  12. Mitchell Ross Member

    These were popular in Israel when I lived there. Cars over 1800cc had import duty of $125% but these were classified as commercial and taxed at only 50% so it was an opportunity for someone who wanted to stand out from the Fiats and Renaults that were popular without spending much money, except on gas

    Like 1
  13. Ranco Racing

    A lot of opinions here (you know what they say about opinions) regarding how idiotic it would be to buy a 2WD Blazer and how stupid it would seem to people when they found out the vehicle was not 4WD. A truck guy would not be interested since he already had a truck. I have been a truck guy since the early 70’s and have owned many GM models and currently have a 2K Silverado. I also have 2 K5 Blazers, both of which are 2WD. Not everyone needs 4WD if they don’t live in a snow belt or go offroad and I never got stuck with either one. I have, however, got stuck with a 2WD pickup on dry ground with a slight incline.

    I guess these 2WD Blazers are not that rare since I have 2 of them.

    Like 1
    • Ranco Racing

      I forgot to mention that both of mine are 4 speed manual with the granny gear floor shift and 350 4bbl.

      Like 2
  14. Little_Cars

    Seats look like off the shelf Camaro units from the same production year. The red GM interiors seemed to wear out and fade quicker than all the other colors.

    Like 1
  15. Steveshow

    Funny that the ebay ad states “paint and body are in excellent shape”. Who is selling this, Stevie Wonder? Its a cool rare truck that i would love to own, but, c’mon, really?

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