COAL: 1989 Chevrolet Blazer S-10- A New Beginning

NOTE: sorry for the bad photo, but it was the only one I could muster

After I walked away from the Sunbird in last weeks COAL, the next one up was a 1989 S-10 Chevrolet Blazer 2 door, 4×4, with the 4.3L V-6, also known and the “chopped off 350”. This one was the second car of the owner of our company that he used as his winter car. He and I always got on well, and he was asking $8500 for it.  It had…perhaps 60,000 miles on it, and I felt I was getting a decent deal. There were a few small rust spots down in the wheel wells forming but not noticeable unless you looked closely.  It had a badly bent fender, and the boss agreed to give me whatever the cost was to fix it in cash as part of the deal. It was high trim level, most options and a two-tone brown and gold, which is a lot better looking that it sounds.   This is the closest nicer image I could find, except that on mine the gold part was only at the bottom under the body trim.


GM sold the S-10 in this generation from 1982 until 1993, and were iterations were sold both in North and South America. They sold well…routinely over 200,000 units per year in their heyday here.   The S-10, either a pickup or a Blazer,  is another one of those automotive cockroaches everybody seems to have a story about.  In base trim, the simple pickup  was inexpensive, so you’d see it as a light commercial or municipal vehicle, as well as someone’s first car, new or used.  My nephew had two of them and a good friend had one for 6 years and 170,000 miles and  drove it to the junkyard when done, and it didn’t owe him a dime.  They were simple, inexpensive, durable, and easy to fix…though very prone to rust and I rarely see them in these parts now.

Driving it was …unspectacular. The 4.3 was powerful and has stump pulling torque, and could get out of its own way. With a short wheelbase, it was a bit choppy in terms of ride quality.  It guzzled gas, and that part was a rude awakening coming from the Sunbird : perhaps 16-18 MPG combined.  I loved the space and hauling room, sitting up high, and it was great in the winter in snow and slush. It was problem free for the most part, except for 2 oxygen sensors that I was able to replace on my own with no tools in the apartment parking lot.  Oh, and one day, right in the middle of a wedding of a high school friend, in broad daylight, parked at a church, somebody stole the Delco radio/cassette deck, in what was a generally decent area.

I rarely used the 4×4 or did any serious off-roading, like most folks (then and now ) who have capable off road vehicles.  The one exception was during a 3 day 270 mile running relay in northern Michigan. I took it up some steep dirt hills and rough, rutted and sandy two-tracks. It did just fine, but as it was my only transportation, I didn’t feel the need to beat on it or smoke the tranny.  I do recall that a friends Toyota 4-Runner seemed to be far more capable as an off roader and went places I wouldn’t dare take the Blazer, but he was more daring than I was.

I ended up keeping the Blazer for barely 18 months. I had in the fall of 95 a bit of an epiphany. I was 29, on my own, living with an old friend/roommate, working and supporting myself, and generally enjoying life. I had a girlfriend that felt like it would turn into more. I was going to grad school and paying for it on my own, living check to check, and had student loan and plastic debt.

It got to a point where I felt like I was getting nowhere in life, and it was really starting to get to me. I had to get my act together, and I wanted to be debt free and ultimately, I wanted to buy a house.  First things first, I had to find ways to cut expenses. I figured eliminating a car payment was a good place to start. I put the Blazer in the Tradin’ Times, and interest was strong.  A guy and his college age son came all the way up from Toledo to snag it for $4,500, which was slightly more than the car note, but at least I was free and clear. It was gone in about a week. And now, onto a self-imposed period of austerity. Would it move the financial needle for Carlsberg66?