I have a '91 Chevy S-10 Blazer. It's a 2WD model with the big V-6. I've lowered the truck substantially and added 18-inch Billet Specialties wheels and 35-series tires. I've shaved all of the emblems and door handles. Now it's time to paint the truck, and that's why I'm asking for your advice.
It seems with all the super-nice trucks competing for attention that it's hard to be special without being stupid. I don't want to spend the money for one of those thousandcolors- airbrushed, every-trick-in-thebook paintjobs. I like flames, but those too seem like they're all over the place. I don't want a solid color either.
What I'm thinking about is some kind of two-tone paintjob, but again I don't want the standard top-half/ bottom-half job that everybody else has. I'm sure you guys have seen every imaginable paintjob, so I'm hoping you can offer me some unique (or at least relatively unique) suggestions.
Jim, we've got one word for you: Buick. Now, we realize that contemporary Buicks are the cars your grandparents drive to funerals of their friends who also drove Buicks, but at one time Buicks were very popular cars. Buicks were pretty cutting edge in the styling department, they had lots of power, and they had some really wild paintjobs. In the mid '50s, you could get Buicks with three-tone paint schemes.
If you study fashion designers and automotive designers, you'll notice that they often incorporate elements of the past into their new designs. The idea is to take something that worked well before and put a modern spin on it. The new-generation VW Beetles and Ford Mustangs are prime examples of this concept.
Professional designers are very talented people. They really understand form and flow. They know how to make objects as attractive as possible. That's why it's smart to copy them.
If you go all the way back to the '30s, you can find some super-wild paint schemes on those huge classic cars such as Packards, Duesenbergs, Cadillacs, and various coachbuilt European cars. The two-tone paintjobs on those cars were often very bold with highly contrasting colors and big, sweeping lines.
Back to the Buicks. The '56 Buick side trim is one of the most handsome designs ever to emerge from the General Motors Design Studio. it has an elegant flow that goes from above the front wheelwell to the rocker panel in front of the rear wheelwell. Then, it arches up over the wheel opening and goes straight to the taillights.
Actual Buick side trim has been very popular with customizers over the years. Besides the '56 trim, '54 and '55 trim has also been used. Another leadsled favorite is the '53 Buick "swoosh" that has been used on many iconic '50 Mercury customs. Any of these side-trim designs could be adapted to your Blazer.
Since you can't use actual Buick stainless trim, you'll need to duplicate the shape with paint. You could airbrush it to look like chrome, but we like the idea of using silver leaf. Silver leaf is like gold leaf. it comes in very thin, fragile sheets and is applied to glue that's known as sizing. The silver or gold leaf needs to be protected with a clear topcoat.
There are various colored leaf materials that have a variegated pattern. These extra veins of color add interest to the leaf. Depending on the colors you choose for your two-tone, you could put a small amount of candy toner in the clear to make the silver leaf more interesting. You wouldn't want to hide the silver leaf, but just tint it with a complementary or contrasting color. We like the idea of a candy lime-green tint over the silver leaf with a black upper body color and candy purple or deep candy-blue lower body color. if the green is too much, just leave the silver leaf alone.
To accentuate your two-tone (especially if black is the top color), it would be nice to deep-tint the rear side windows. Putting a dark color on top helps to visually lower the truck.
We like the idea of emulating the Buick (Dodges also had some wild three-tone paint combos) three-tone look. Black would be the best roof and windshield-post color. Then the hood and side of the Blazer down to the simulated side trim would be the second color. The lower area would be the third color. Risky, but it could work.
If you really wanted to drive home the Buick theme, you could add some "portholes." That's what they called the three or four front fender vents. The less expensive models had three portholes, and the top-of-the-line Buicks had four. You could use real portholes or airbrush them.
Mike, you were right on target with your Feb. '08 editorial. I totally agree with you. As much as I like my Chevys, get tired of seeing them being puked out of the Chevy Clone Machine.
My biggest concern about daring to be different is keeping costs in line. I've got a Joe job and I have to sell each old project before I can start another one. Paint doesn't care what kind of metal it coats-it all costs the same. Therefore, it's kind of risky for a paycheck-to-paycheck guy to build something he might have trouble selling. That could be why you see the "patina pickups" that are simply bagged and billet-wheeled.
I've always liked 2WD fullsize Blazers, and I agree that a Dodge Ramcharger would be just as cool. The Dodges have very clean lines except for that goofy roof vent. I appreciate your efforts to keep the custom-truck hobby fresh.
I'm in the same boat as you: I can't keep any truck if I want to build another one. By the same token, my '67 is still wearing three shades of primer, rust, and factory green. Blazers will always be cool, and the couple of Ramcharger pics that have come through the ol' e-mail inbox recently are inspiring. -Mike
Scout On The Horizon
Here's a few more suggestions regarding your February editorial. International made a lot of unique SUVs and pickups. A boxy little firstgeneration 2WD Scout with either the half-cab (a mini Fleetside pickup) or the full roof would look great on the pavement. The Scout ii came in a half-cab pickup called the Scout Terra ('76-'80). How about a '60s 1/2-ton international pickup with the factory 6-foot bed?
You mentioned the Dodge Ramcharger. Even more unique would be the Plymouth version, the Trailduster. You mentioned the Plymouth Arrow mini pickup (Dodge Ram 50), but what about the even smaller Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp? One of those little front-wheeldrive trucklets with a turbocharger could be the way to have your truck and good fuel economy too.
There's a whole lot of unique stuff that wears the Jeep label: FC150 Forward Control cabover pickups, '63-'69 Gladiator pickups (small-grille models), '70-and-later wide-grille Jeep J10 pickups, Jeep Cherokee two-door wagons, Jeep J10 Honcho stepside pickups, Jeep panel trucks, and Jeep Comanche pickups.
If you're gonna include foreign iron like the Subaru Brat, why not include VW "Double Cabin" pickups with their unique, fold-down bedsides and the little front-wheel-drive Rabbit pickups?
First-generation Ford Broncos are cool, but the 2WD ones are super-rare and the 4x4 models are gold to the off-road crowd.
I'm sure there are a lot more possibilities, but that's all I could think of for now. Keep up the good work.
A VW laid out would be awesome, and the Scamp would make a great low-buck cornercarver. Hopefully, someone will send pictures of anything on your list or mine soon. -Mike
I just finished your March '08 issue, and i want to tell you how disappointed I was with your SEMA coverage. From looking at it, I'm guessing there were no Dodge trucks there. I saw nothing but cookie-cutter Chevys, a Toyota, and a Ford. While i am probably not your average sport truck enthusiast, at 55 years old, I would think that your readers must get tired of who has the biggest wheels or who can get their Chevy the highest off the ground. I guess I'll go back in the garage and start wrenching on my '66 Mustang. I'm totally bored trying to get ideas for my Dodge pickup from Sport Truck magazine.
If you build it, they will come. We can't force customizers to build Dodges, Robert. There were very few of them at the SEMA Show, and obviously none of them caught the eye of any of our photographers. We'll try harder next year.
Hey, did only short people buy pickups in the '60s and '70s? I was born in the 80s, but I love '67-'72 Chevy/GMC 1/2-ton pickups. The reason I ask about height is because I'm 6 feet 6 inches tall and it's a real squeeze to drive my 72 C10. Can you suggest anything could do to give me a little more legroom? Thanks.
Yes, it seems like people have gotten progressively taller, but it wasn't just short bods that bought shortbeds in the '60s and '70s. Maybe people whined less back then. No one complained if a work truck didn't have power everything, heated leather seats, air conditioning, a DVD player, and a sunroof.
Personally, we blame the cereal companies. Our son ate little else besides various sugarcoated cereals while he was growing. He finally topped out at 6' 8". He's never asked to borrow the keys to our C10, but he did drive a regular-cab S-10. We never saw how he got in and out, but he drove it to school everyday.
There are several things you can do to maximize legroom. The first thing is to relocate the gas tank. Get a custom-made under-bed tank from Brotherstrucks.com, or adapt one from a similar-year Suburban. Ditching the gas tank allows the seatback to hug the back of the cab.
A tilt steering wheel will give you the most possible thigh room. Either find a GM tilt wheel, or better yet, buy a new aftermarket repro tilt column from companies such as Flaming River [(800) 281-1319, www.flamingriver.com]. A smaller-diameter aftermarket steering wheel will also add thigh room.
A thinner seatback will maximize legroom. You could use a '90s Silverado bench (or split bench) seat. This is a popular swap for '67-'72 Chevy pickups. You could tuck the top cushion underneath the rear window (the area originally occupied by the gas tank), but that would necessitate a super-short upper cushion. Your shoulders and head would be against the rear window.
A compromise solution would be to have a custom rear bolster built. Make one that is thicker at the bottom (so it provides lower-back support and uses some of the former gas-tank space) and thinner at the top. The flared part of the cushion would be on the backside, and the front would be uniformlooking.
We don't know if your height is more legs or torso. If your legs are longer, you can gain some extra comfort by raising the seat. That's the basic design of minivan front seats.
You could have a totally custom seat built using thin, high-density foam. By using thin foam you can get the upper cushion as far back as possible and raise the lower cushion. With a custom seat, you can also experiment with cushion angles to achieve maximum room and comfort.
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