Ford and General Motors spent most of the 1970s and a few years of the 1980s selling rebadged small trucks made by Japanese partners: the Ford Courier (Mazda Proceed) and Chevrolet LUV (Isuzu Faster). GM began selling a genuine Detroit mini-pickup — the Chevrolet S-10/GMC S-15—as a 1982 model, beating Ford and its new Ranger to the market by a single year. Naturally, both companies introduced compact SUVs based on those trucks soon after that, and today’s Junkyard Gem is an example of the first-generation SUV-ized S-10, found in a Colorado self-service yard recently.
The General had been selling Chevrolet Blazers (and GMC Jimmys) based on the big C/K-Series truck platform since the late 1960s, and it seemed worthwhile to cash in on all that good name recognition by calling this unrelated truck a Blazer as well. Ford did the same thing by calling the Ranger-based compact SUV the Bronco II while continuing to sell F-Series-based big Broncos (in fact, Ford pioneered the name-recycling trend by selling full-sized LTDs and unrelated mid-sized LTD IIs in the same showrooms during the 1970s).
So, the official name for this truck was the S-10 Blazer, while the original Blazer stayed in production as the “Full-Size” Blazer (those designations were used in marketing materials but not on any vehicle badging). Technically speaking, the four-wheel-drive version of the S-10 was known as the T-10, making this a T-10 Blazer, but I’m using the terminology everybody employs nowadays.
The gauge cluster is pure S-10.
S-10 Blazer shoppers had three engine choices for 1988: the base 2.5-liter Iron Duke pushrod four-cylinder, the 2.8-liter pushrod 60° V6 of Pontiac Fiero fame and the Chevy small-block-derived pushrod 4.3-liter V6. This truck has the 2.8.
Fuel injection was close to taking over the American automotive world in 1988, but enough U.S.-market new vehicles still had carburetors that Chevrolet felt the EFI in this truck deserved a brag.
The 2.8 in this truck was rated at just 125 horsepower and 150 pound-feet, but consider its curb weight before you judge it as hopelessly underpowered: 3,217 pounds. The current Blazer (which could be considered the descendant of the S-10 Blazer) scales in at more than two tons.
Eventually, the S-10 Blazer grew bigger and got more doors. For the 1995 model year, it went onto a new platform and lost the S-10 prefix (made possible because the big Blazer became the Tahoe).
America’s favorite sport utility vehicle … and cold remedy.