What’s that noise? Who could be making that kind of racket this early on a Saturday morning? Why, it’s your neighbor removing the top, roof, and even doors from his newer Jeep Wrangler to take advantage of this gorgeous August day.
The guy in the house down the street is likely performing the same tasks on his Bronco.
You know who isn’t transforming their SUV into a summer fun mobile? Anybody in your ‘hood with a large GM truck.
There’s something wrong with this picture. It isn’t like General Motors didn’t offer some exciting open-topped off-road machines in the past. NO, I don’t mean a teal Geo Tracker with purple and pink drop shadow stripes (but that’s amusing in its own right today). I’m talking about the old K5 Blazer, the C/K truck-based sport utility offered from 1969 to 1991 with a removable roof section.
Likely the most famous appearance of the K5 was in the iconic 1975 film Jaws, where Roy Scheider’s hero character patrolled the beach for sharks in an early second-generation Blazer with the fully-detachable roof (after 1975 only the section from the B pillar back was removeable).
Here’s one of numerous replicas being made by fans with the correct graphics, chomped surfboards, and BEACH CLOSED signs:
Is there anyone that recognizes how damn cool these things were? Well, someone thousands of miles away does. We’ve mentioned the company Mitsuoka many times before, the coachbuilder in Japan that makes little Nissans look like old Jaguars; they also have a model called the Buddy which takes a Toyota RAV4 and makes it appear to be a shrunken down eighties version of the K5 with the stacked rectangular headlamps. Like most Mitsuoka creations, you can’t help but laugh at it yet at the same time seem to want one badly.
With this kind of adulation, you figure GM would do some kind of tribute. You’d figure wrong. Chevrolet did release a new Blazer a little while back in 2019, but it wasn’t what many enthusiasts hoped it would be. Instead of a Jeep/new Bronco type of tribute to the old vehicle, the new Blazer is a crossover that slots between the Chevy Equinox and something else I don’t care enough to look up. I’m too bored by this thing to keep writing about it. Suffice it to say, while Mitsuoka is making Toyota RAV4s that look like Blazers, General Motors is making a “Blazer” that’s like a me-too RAV4. Nice work.
Oh, and Chevy went ahead and discontinued the Camaro for the second time while they were at it. Come on, GM! What’s wrong with you? No fun at all.
The full-sized Tahoe replaced the K5 Blazer in Chevy’s large truck lineup many years back; the ones I’ve rented recently have been excellent, luxurious big SUVs.
Still, like the recent 200 series Land Cruisers with refrigerators in the console, these four-door-only Tahoe wagons are very much machines for Ferragamo purse mom driving the kids to lacrosse practice. They’re a far cry from their more elemental predecessors like the FJ40 and K5 that really helped coin the term “sport utility”. Time for GM to have some fun with something silly.
I’m not suggesting a K5 tribute like Mitsuoka has already done so well. A small, me-too Jeep Wrangler or new Bronco ripoff is not on my agenda either. I want to see a full-sized K5-style SUV that can open up to the sun at the touch of a button or voice command (“OPEN FRONT ROOF”). If the Tahoe took off its suit jacket and put on a lumberjack coat, what would that look like?
Here is the Tahoe SS Rally Sport, a name that reflects the different nose we’ll place on this sporting two door variant of the big SUV.
Yes, it’s a Camaro face, but NO we will NOT call it a “Camaro Cross” since I just couldn’t bear to see that use of the name. I simply wanted the well-know beak to have one last gasp on another last gasp internal combustion engined beast; the SUV has killed Chevrolet’s pony car again it might as wear this as a victory mask. Honestly, that front end never looked much like a ’69 Camaro to begin with, and the most recent Camaro nose seemed too big and bulky for a sports coupe. It looked like it belonged on a truck, so here we are.
Two doors are a must, and the Rally Sport features a pillarless structure with roll down rear quarter windows. Over the passenger compartment, a fabric roof electrically slides back to the fixed “targa” bar that loops over the middle of the body. Like a Renault 17, a rigid hardtop could be offered to snap over the fabric roof for winter months.
Here’s a side view that also shows the roof action and an optional graphics package and big stamped steelies to really help you get your groovy seventies vibe on.
In the rear, there’s a fold-down tailgate in back like on the old K5, complete with power roll down backlight. Lower the tailgate window and then you can “accordion” fold the top over the cargo area electrically forward into the “targa” bar for open air motoring. Note the simulated Camaro taillamps.
What’s under the hood? You can decide, but assume that it will have eight cylinders, two exhaust pipes, an automatic transmission, and the need for an owner that isn’t afraid of stopping at gas stations. The current 6.2 liter, 420 horsepower lump would do the trick, but the supercharged 650 horsepower engine from the Camaro LT1 might be a nice choice if we’re going all-out. Honestly, if it became popular, I would want to see lower level models as well, maybe something more stripped down to be like Chief Brody’s mount in the movie with the Great White.
No, you can’t take off the doors, but this isn’t that kind of vehicle; it’s more of a ‘sumo’ class off road (or on-road) sports machine. Imagine if an old B-Body Impala SS (or Mercury Marauder) decided one day that it wanted to become an SUV; that’s what this is. Would the SS Rally Sport two door be jumping the shark (sorry), or is this bigger boat (sorry again) a legitimate machine for Chevy to be back in the fun game?