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1986 Chevrolet BlazerReview
Stephan writes:

Gas Guzzling Pig — Big,slow and poorly built.Didnt even have defrost and driver and passengers windows.Would pass everywhere though.With a 6 inch suspension lift and 35 inch tires,this thing was huge.

Pros: Never worried about snow storms

Cons: Had trouble parking in the mall.Truck would fill up space,line to line

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1986 Chevrolet Blazer 2-Door 4WDReview
Mercjerry writes:
Back Seats:
Cargo Capacity:
Family Car:
Fuel Economy:
Front Seats:
Maintenance Cost:

You're In The Army Now —

In 2000, a good friend of mine bought a most unusual vehicle at an auction held by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany. He had been tipped off that one could get decent cars and trucks on the cheap there and it sure worked for him. Unsure at first what vehicle he might like best, he skipped a 1983 Chevrolet Caprice with bulletproof glass because the windows couldn't be rolled down. At the end of the day, he decided in favor of a 1986 Chevrolet Blazer M1009, the military version of the K10, and he never regretted it. As soon as he told me about his new ride, I paid him a visit to do a story about the Chevy for one of the automobile magazines I worked for at the time. It turned out that this story would generate more comments from readers than any other that year, nearly all of them favorable because people were really enthused about the Blazer. My buddy lived (still does) in a rather remote corner of Germany, just a few miles west of the Polish border. It's a densely forested area with many hills and trails, just right for a 4x4 formerly used by the Army. The U.S. military in Germany had passed on the vehicle to the motor pool of the U.S. Embassy in 1990, a common practice among government agencies. The embassy used the Blazer as a transporter of non-hazardous material. Its camouflage job hidden under a coat of plain white paint and licensed in Germany, the M1009 faithfully served the embassy until it was auctioned off 10 years later. Externally, the M1009 looks just like an ordinary K10, but there is more than meets the eye. A look under the hood reveals two batteries instead of one because the Army needed extra electrical power to operate a two-way radio. Therefore, the M1009's electrical system is 24 rather 12 volts. Another military peculiarity is the so-called "Service Lights" switch on the instrument panel that turns on all lights and signals - headlights, turn signals, backup lights, brake lights, the works. Without that switch, none of them work. That way, no rookie GI can inadvertently turn on the lights in a combat zone. The tricky part is to turn off that switch after parking the car for the night because otherwise the electrical circuit remains open and completely drains the batteries in a few hours. The Army also deleted the standard wall-to-wall carpeting of the floor and chose thick rubber floormats instead because they're easier to clean. The same goes for the heavy-duty all-vinyl upholstery covering heavy-duty seat springs. Also, there is none of the usual sound insulation material found in civilian Blazers inside the doors, on the firewall or under the hood. No headliner, either. Obviously, the Blazer was made for guys who don't need any pampering. One myth must be laid to rest here and now, though. Some people claim that M1009s had sheetmetal three times as thick a ordinary K10s. Not so. This humble automotive writer checked with a caliper gauge: Sheetmetal thickness is identical. There are extra reinforcements welded in, however, especially under the roof. If the sheetmetal of the M1009 were three times as thick as the K10's, the body obviously would weigh three times as much, which it doesn't. A trip to the scales revealed a curb weight of 2,310 kilograms (approx. 5,100 pounds), well within the limits of a civilian K10 with identical equipment. Speaking of equipment, the M1009 came with a 379 CID V8 diesel, a naturally aspirated engine supplied by GM-Detroit Diesel Allison Division as standard equipment. Available in two versions with either 130 or 156 net horsepower (the latter being an exclusive military option), this is one tough powerplant with 240 lb.-ft. of torque at a mere 2,000 rpm (figure is for the less powerful version installed in the test car). Civilian K10s came with one of two gasoline engines standard, namely Chevy's small-block V8 in 305 or 350 CID configuration; the diesel was optional. Other items that set the M1009 apart from the K10 concerned the driveline. K10s had a standard floor-mounted Muncie 4-speed manual transmission and the THM-700R4 four-speed automatic transmission on the options list. Four-wheel drive was selected via the aluminum-cased New Process 208 transmission. M1009s were more conservative in that respect. They still used GM's older, but well-reputed THM-400 three-speed automatic (no manuals in the Army) and the cast-iron New Process 205. Both transmissions were less advanced and efficient, but more robust, thereby lending themselves much better to the needs of the military. Driving the Blazer was fun. First, you switch on the ignition, then wait. A big red warning light on the instrument panel lets you know how long it takes the glow plugs to provide enough heat to start the engine; it goes out after about 20 seconds. The big diesel cranks over and makes itself heard loud and clear. Engine vibrations are present, but not nearly as bad as I expected. Pushing the gas pedal (bit of a misnomer here) down sets the Chevy in motion gently. A naturally aspirated diesel isn't exactly a stoplight Grand Prix contender, especially in a big, heavy vehicle like the Blazer. The automatic trans shifts smoothly, a perfect match for the 379 V8, tough and reliable. Once the diesel reaches operating temperature, the typical nailgun sound almost disappears, yet the lovely V8 rumble lingers on. On the road, the big 31 x 10,50 R15 tires almost make more noise than the engine. This M1009 is equipped with a 3.08 rear axle, so there isn't really any need for a fourth gear. On the autobahn, the Blazer easily chugs along at 70 mph, top speed is 93 mph. Sustained Vmax runs are usually avoided by experienced US automobile owners in Germany because even the most powerful V8s habitually overheat at continuous high engine speeds, an age-old problem common to virtually all American cars. In the US with its more or less restrictive speed limits, there is little occasion to drive flat out, so overheating isn't really an issue. The reason behind that overheating is oil capacity. American engines, even 400+ CID V8s, operate with no more than 5 quarts (a capacity found in German engines of less than 100 cubic inches displacement) of oil in them in order to warm up quickly. This is very convenient for the driver unless he decides to put the pedal to the metal. Then, those measly 5 quarts get really hot and the oil has a hard time lubricating the many reciprocating parts in the engine. If the driver doesn't let up, the thin oil film breaks, resulting in a ruptured head gasket or worse. The M1009 avoids this problem with standard auxiliary engine and transmission oil coolers. Beginning in the 1980s, US retail cars officially exported to Germany came with such oil coolers as standard equipment, by the way. In the US, such coolers were (and still are) optional equipment that few people pay extra for. In all honesty, driving the M1009 flat out on anything but glass-smooth roads is a challenge. Its standard extra-heavy-duty suspension, which gives little body lean in corners, offers zero comfort on the typical cobblestone streets so often found in rural Germany and other parts of Europe. The whole car shakes and shudders like mad, but that's nothing compared to what happens in the boonies. Every rock, every root of a tree, even slightly large twigs on the trail make the Blazer literally jump up in the air, sometimes lifting all four wheels clear off the ground and the occupants off their seats if they aren't firmly strapped in with their seat belts. Pampering the men and women in uniform sure wasn't on the Army's agenda, but protecting them by giving them a truck that's virtually indestructible. Off-road, the M1009 takes all the abuse one can think of and then asks for more. The New Process 205 4WD transmission and the 24-gallon fuel tank even have extra metal shields underneath. A Rallye Paris-Dakar-type off-roader it's not - too big and too heavy - but the Blazer is quite competent in rough terrain. Thanks to the diesel V8, the big, heavy Chevy is even surprisingly economical, getting 20-22 mpg, believe it or not. In summation, I found the M1009 to be a fun truck for those who can do without comfort. So, buy a family car and hang loose with the Blazer on the weekend.

Primary Use: Sport/fun (spirited driving, track racing, off-roading, etc.)

Pros: Tough construction, good off-roader, torquey diesel V8

Cons: Stark interior, noisy engine

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Displaying 11 - 12 of 1986 Chevrolet Blazer 12 reviews.

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