1970 Chevrolet K5 Blazer originally purchased & owned by Steve McQueen

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Type: Used
Year: 1970
Make: Chevrolet
Model: K5 Blazer originally purchased & owned by Steve McQueen
Body: 4WD SUV
Engine Size: 350 V8
Trans: Automatic
Mileage: 81612
VIN: KE180S124408
Stock: 24408
Ext Color: Green
Int Color: Green

West Coast Classics are proud to present this 1970 Chevrolet K5 4x4 Blazer that was purchased by Solar Productions in 1969, Steve McQueen's company that he often used to buy his vehicles. This Blazer and four other vehicles were bought by McQueen as towing and support trucks for his Baja race team. After the race this Blazer was sold with the four other support vehicles, and its fascinating early life was almost lost to history.

 

  • Copy of the original dealer invoice from December 1969 showing Steven T. McQueen/Solar Productions as purchaser
  • Acquired by Bob Bianchi in 1971 and retained in his family's care until 2022
  • Bianchi responded to an ad in the Penny Saver offering the Blazer to the first person to show up on Friday with $1,800
  • The Blazer was being stored at a warehouse in Bellflower, California
  • Years later, research performed by Bianchi discovered that McQueen/Solar Productions had purchased this Blazer for McQueen's Baja race team including two 4WD pickups and two other Blazers
  • This truck is believed to have been used as a tow vehicle for Baja races
  • McQueens race team installed Positraction front and rear differentials
  • McQueens race team changed the front grille to a four-headlight Jimmy grille for additional light in the desert
  • After a 13,000-mile road trip in 1972, the truck was utilized as a family car until 2001
  • From 2001-2020, the truck has resided in Big Bear, California, and has been used sparingly for cruises through the mountains on weekends
  • Produced at the St. Louis plant
  • 4 wheel drive
  • 350 c.i. engine
  • TH350 transmission
  • Factory air conditioning

 

McQueen acquired this 1970 K5 Blazer on Christmas Eve in 1969, per the original dealer invoice listing McQueen as the purchaser via McQueen's production company, Solar Productions. The Blazer was ordered in a highly-specified condition. When McQueen had ordered this vehicle new it came off the St. Louis line with the 350 cubic inch V8 mated to a TH350 three-speed automatic transmission and the 'CST' package. CST stands for Custom Sport Truck and it was the highest trim level available for the K5 Blazer at the time. It also has air conditioning fitted.

Around this time Steve McQueen had become the highest paid movie star in the world and he had only recently acted in some of this most memorable roles. These roles included Bullitt in 1968, The Thomas Crown Affair with Faye Dunaway in the same year, Le Mans in 1970, The Getaway in 1972, and Papillon in 1973 with Dustin Hoffman.

In order to make it better suited to the deep sand and desert conditions of the Baja peninsula, McQueen's race team fitted this Blazer with Positraction front and rear differentials. Positraction is a long-running General Motors brand name for a limited-slip differential (LSD). The vehicle was also given the quad-headlight grille from the Jimmy, giving it twice as much lighting power for illumination on those dark desert nights.

The body and shell of McQueen's SUV are finished in the striking GM color of 'Citrus Green' that's complimented by faux-wood striping running along the bottom of the vehicle and across the middle of its tailgate. The major difference between this Blazer and other first-generation examples aside from its Hollywood pedigree is its grille. The actor's racing team swapped the factory part out for one from a GMC Jimmy that had four headlight and would provide better visibility at night in the desert.

This Blazer came with the most potent powertrain that was available at the time a 350 ci small-block V-8. This produced 200 hp and 350 ft lbs of torque which was split between all four wheels by a three-speed automatic gearbox. McQueen's racing team modified the off-roader with front and rear Positraction differentials and it comes equipped with power brakes and front-locking wheel hubs.

In 1971 this Blazer was offered for sale in the renown 'Penny Saver' and was bought by a man named Bob Bianchi who had no idea about its Steve McQueen heritage until later. He used it for family road trips and weekends away, keeping it in family ownership for 51 years until 2022.

Being renown universally as the 'King of Cool', McQueen, the legendary star of 'Bullitt' and 'Le Mans' did not just play at driving fast cars. He engaged in real life too. This Chevrolet K5 Blazer is further proof of that, starting with the coveted name Steven T. McQueen on the 1970 Chevy's documentation file.

Finish is GMs 'Citrus Green', recalling the legendary 'Highland Green' "Bullitt" Ford Mustang. History shows this was a support vehicle for the stars attempt at the gruelling Baja 1000 off-road race in northwestern Mexico, a classic Steve McQueen escapade. That additional lighting was reportedly installed to find the way in desert conditions, with rugged four wheel-drive essential, along with after market Positraction front and rear differentials being fitted to the 1970 Chevy.

McQueen himself was out on the rough course in a highly modified beach buggy lookalike known as a Baja Boot, ultra lightweight with a V8 in the rear. He ended up not finishing the Baja 1000, but this faithful 1970 Chevy obviously would have surely done all it could to help his support team in that attempt!

As previously stated, after the race the 1970 Chevy K5 Blazer was sold anonymously to Bianchi for just $1,800, before the lucky buyer was to trace its star-laden history. With a new Blazer costing over $5,500 it was obviously one hell of a deal! The ad had memorably read "First one here with the money on Friday gets the truck" according to Bianchi!

Early that Friday morning, Bianchi's father drove the young 23 year old from Torrance, CA to Bellflower, CA, some 40 miles away,  where the truck was housed, to be first in line at 5.30AM to secure the deal! Some two hours later at around 7.30AM, Bianchi recalls a man arrived and asked him if he was there for the Blazer? The man opened the warehouse door and there was the most beautiful Dark Green 1970 K5 Blazer, which instantly stood out from the other trucks and motorcycles in the room, with its original front grille with two headlights. Behind on a wall were pictures of James Garner, Steve McQueen and some other movie stars who all had raced at Baja. Soon enough about five other buyers arrived offering the seller more money for the truck but the seller kept his word to the young Bianchi and against all the odds he sold it to him and the young man proudly drove it home to Torrance, CA.

Along with the odd road trip - the sort of rugged life for which it was designed - the 1970 Chevy was in storage for the better part of two decades and now presents in wonderfully mostly all original condition. The vehicle came with factory air conditioning, which would have come in rather useful while in Baja, and the engine was fitted with a set of Edelbrock valve covers.

It came with front bucket seats, a center console, a column shifter with transfer case floor-shift, and a carpeted rear area with a spare tire. Its worth noting that the vehicle is fitted with a roll bar, though its not known for sure if this was put in during McQueen's ownership or later. McQueen, who was more closely associated with motorcycles and racing sports cars, bought this high-riding two-door at the end of 1969, on Xmas eve.

 

Equipped to navigate the demanding desert terrain, McQueen's race team outfitted the Chevy with front and rear Positraction differentials, while the front end was upgraded with a four-headlamp grille from a GMC Jimmy for enhanced night time visibility. Under the hood lies a 350 cubic-inch V8 engine paired with a TH350 automatic transmission. McQueen's race team had added the improved front and rear differentials. As for the wheels, they boasted a chrome finish and BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A rubber.

 

Unfortunately for McQueen, the Baja race ended in a DNF, and this was among the vehicles liquidated soon thereafter. McQueen had held on to the Blazer for almost two years. The vehicle now has just over 81,000 miles and has quite obviously been very well taken care of over the years.

 

As previously stated it was then acquired by Bob Bianchi in 1971 after answering an ad in Penny Saver. The Bianchi family owned the SUV for more than 50 years, and even once took it on a 13,000-mile road trip in 1972, before parting ways with it in 2022.

Bianchi reportedly had been the first person to show up in 1971 with the equivalent of nearly $15,000 today, when accounting for inflation, and an amount which was quite the deal at the time for a one year old virtually new Blazer, but the history he would later uncover would add far more to its value and prove far more interesting than anything he could have imagined.


In around 2012 Bianchi was to discover that the man he had purchased the Blazer from, and who had owned the building in Bellflower, had been a famous off road racer in the Baja 1000. He was sponsored by Ford in the 1960's and upon further research he found that Steve McQueen had also been raced in the Baja 1000. McQueen's racing and production company in North Hollywood was called 'Solar Productions' and in late 1969 McQueen had reportedly purchased 2 pick ups and 3 Blazers for Solar. 

Bianchi's research went on to find Harold Daigh, who had been McQueen's co-driver since 1969, and who was living in Palos Verdes, CA ,and who knew of the 2 trucks and 3 Blazers purchased by McQueen for the Baja races, and more importantly who knew McQueen's old mechanic, Don Mitchell, who was now living in Yuma, AZ.


The Baja 1000 is a 1,000-mile race along Mexico 39s Baja California Peninsula, ominously known as 'The Devils Playground'. McQueen had a special relationship with this race: he took part from 1967 to 1975. In 1969 Steve and co-driver / navigator Harold Daigh took part in this hellish rally with a special Baja Boot buggy. After the start the race went according to plan and they were in the lead. In fast sections they flew the buggy 50 to 70 feet high through the air and that demanded a lot from the vehicle. After 237 miles it was the end of the story when the transmission exploded.

Bianchi's research next led him to meet another Don, Don Ince, a well known car and motorcycle collector who owned several McQueen motorcycles and who also knew Don Mitchell. Ince was eventually to discuss the Blazer with Mitchell who would at last be able to reveal for Bianchi the whole story behind his famous Blazer.

As McQueen's long time friend and mechanic, Don Mitchell had owned several other vehicles of McQueen's including one of McQueen's Baja Manx Dune Buggys and Mitchell recounted how McQueen had had him order a front grille with four headlights as well as installing positraction in the front wheel differential for the Citrus Green K5 Blazer.

Mitchell further was to inform Bianchi that he had something amongst his McQueen paperwork relating to the Blazer that he might want. He had a box with the CA registration ID number that went on the windows of the vehicle at that time when first sold. It was a Red numbered strip that was to match the ID number on the original registration form which Bianchi was to obtain from the CA DMV records and which would match to Steven T. McQueen and 'Solar Productions' name. Bianchi would go on to obtain from the DMV records in Sacramento the registration paperwork to confirm and document McQueens original ownership of the Blazer. 


With McQueen having just made the racing film 'Le Mans', which famously bombed at the box office, and after a legendary insanely over budget production cost and chaotic set, the film had bankrupted' Solar Productions', which McQueen owned. Anything to do with that company was put on hold which is reportedly one of the reasons McQueen began the liquidation of the companies remaining assets including the buggy and related Baja vehicles. McQueen held onto the Chevy truck until 1971 at the same time he also had begun divorce proceedings with his first wife Neile. Their parting forced the couple to divide their assets and also sell their spacious 5,560-square foot Brentwood, Calif., home. Upon his divorce, McQueen sold most of his cars or found homes for them.

In total, McQueen had reportedly purchased five vehicles that would be used for support duties on the Baja, three Blazers and two 44 Chevy pickup trucks. Its not known if they all received the same modifications, or the location or even continued existence of the other vehicles. What Bianchi had uncovered from his research was the dealer invoice from December 1969 which shows beyond any doubt that this 1970 K5 Blazer was indeed purchased by McQueens Solar Productions as the original purchaser.

This uncovered movie star heritage should have had a major impact on the value of the Blazer of course, but Bianchi was not to know the trucks famous history until 2012. He kept it and used it fairly often, including on one 13,000 mile family road trip in 1972. After that, it was taken to Big Bear, California, where it was used sparingly on the weekends. The vehicle remained in the Bianchi family until 2022, a total of some 51 years, before being sold on.

Obviously today any of McQueens automobiles for sale will bring strong attention from a collector. In 2014 his 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 sold for over $10 million. One of his Porsche's in 2017 sold for $1.5 million and in 2018 a Jaguar of his sold for $800k. In 2020 the 1968 ex Bullitt Mustang sold for close to $4M, in 2011 his 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso sold for over $2M and in 2015 his 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo sold for almost $2M, also in 2011 his 1970 Porsche 911S ex Le Mans sold for $1.3M, in 2020 his modified Meyers Manx for almost $500K and in 2008 his famous Baja Boot 1 sold for almost $200K

The original bill of sale listing McQueen and Solar Production as the original owners will be included in the sale to leave no doubt about its provenance as well as a collectible ACME die cast model of the very same McQueen Blazer.


Today, the Blazer has only some 81,235 miles (130,735 km) on the odometer. Power comes from the same 350 cubic-inch V8 attached to the TH350 automatic transmission, and of course there's still the vehicles original factory air conditioning.

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