There are a lot of beautiful classic trucks on the road these days, but there are precious few that can boast a list of famous prior owners as Vic Branstetter's '67 Chevy Blazer turned pickup. The early SUV's transformation was first begun by one of its early owners, none other than renowned street rod innovator, fabricator, machinist Lil' John Buttera. From there it changed hands and its next owner was the equally acclaimed Boyd Coddington. It then changed ownership again. This time to Bob
Johnson a devoted Gainesville, Georgia-based specialty car/truck collector and dealer (Contemporary & Investment Autos) who immediately placed it in the hands of one of the most highly acclaimed street rod builders in the nation, Alan Johnson. Alan, with the help of his talented crew then finished the time-weary Chevy to its present awesome state. The Blazer turned pickup was recently acquired by Vic Branstetter (an avid specialty vehicle collector) who spied the truck during a visit to the 2001 SEMA show in Las Vegas.
Last October, upon learning that the project had just been completed, we approached Alan and Bob with a request that they debut the newly finished truck at the show. They immediately obliged and made arrangements to get it to Vegas and set it up for all to see. And, as we alluded to earlier, that's where Vic happened to meet up with Bob, and the truck ultimately changed hands.
The pickup started life as a garden variety '67 Chevy Blazer for which Lil' John hand fabricated a one-off tube chassis for. The chassis was constructed from a combination of 2x4-inch rectangular and round tubing and incorporated both front and rear Corvette suspension and Carrera coilovers. Along with the custom chassis, one of a kind machined torque arms and rear trac locator bars were machined for the assembly, as well. The chassis was then fully detailed and outfitted with a quartet of Toyo Proxis rubber and Colorado Custom billet wheels.
Powering the Blazer is a 502-cube GM big-block equipped with an Edelbrock water pump, a Powermaster 100-amp alternator, March pulleys, a 750-cfm Demon carb, Sanderson headers, and a Johnson's Hot Rod Shop-fabricated custom exhaust system. The package is backed by a TH400 automatic transmission and a custom driveshaft.
Between Lil' John and subsequently a bit by Hot Rods by Boyd, the body was treated to more modifications than you can shake a stick at-some immediately obvious (like the pickup conversion) and some so subtle as to initially escape detection. The most noticeable of these are of course, the chopped pickup roof and doors, shaved drip rails, front and rear rolled pans, filled tailgate, taillights, and side markers. Some of the less obvious mods come to light with a bit of a closer look. You'll notice that the cowl has been filled, and the trucks original wheel openings have been removed and replaced with mid-'70s pickup ones. If that's not a subtle enough modification for you then check out the rolled rocker panels. The guys even went as far as shaving the pinch welds so the rockers cleanly roll into oblivion.
Like we said earlier, the Blazer had pretty much spent the last couple of decades as a sort of hand-me-down, and had been treated with a bit less than kid gloves by the time it found its way to Alan Johnson's shop. Sure, the major body mods had been completed, and it was wearing a coat or two of paint. But it took the talent of Johnson and his crew of craftsman to massage the Chevy back into pristine shape and to perform the many hours of tedious handiwork its taken to get this "pickup" into the shape its in today. Barry Alford and Jeff Pierce stripped the truck back down to bare metal, repaired the accumulated bumps, bruises, and body damage and Allan himself sprayed the flawless coating of PPG black and champagne. The cargo bed was treated to a fresh floor constructed of stained and cleared poplar, and Charlie Barnett skillfully plumbed and wired it (since the project had yet ever to be completed to that point).