K5 Tahoe Rendering

We have thoughts on this Chevrolet K5 Tahoe build for SEMA

Here’s something about me; I worked for an aftermarket parts company for four years. I’ve been to SEMA. It’s an interesting show where all of the automotive industry brings their versions of celebrities together. Parts suppliers try very hard to impress parts buyers. 

The wheel and tire hall can be the most depressing. This is where the dead-eyed models come back to life every time the beat drops on the next song. 

The amount of time that goes into SEMA builds is insane. Shops across the country vie for sponsorship dollars and parts to build their idea and display their prowess. For many of the shops, this means getting the daily work done and then working into the late hours. The goal is to impress potential clients with media exposure from SEMA.

I have a hard time crapping on anyone’s automotive build. It’s not money, after all. And who can blame them for building what they like. But I do have some notes about the latest SEMA build we saw.

K5 Tahoe Front 3 Quarter

K5 Tahoe

Flat Out Autos of Jonesboro, AR has produced what they are referring to as a K5 Tahoe. The result has a large amount of bodywork to the front end including fenders and hood. The doors have been altered below the window line, and also in the rear quarters with the K5 period-correct tail lights added. The rear liftgate was adjusted to blend with the new rear quarters and then painted with the classic white-lettered “Chevrolet” across the rear gate. The interior appears to have been left alone as everything works in a 2018 Tahoe.

There is a crap ton of work in this truck and it is well done.

K5 Tahoe Rear 3 Quarter

Real Talk

The modern, sharp lines of the windshield, roof, and windows do not blend with the curvy styling of a 1960s SUV. The first generation of Chevy K5 Blazer debuted in 1969 to offer a full-size alternative to Ford’s then-smaller Bronco. These short-wheelbase Chevy trucks had two doors and a removable rear section of the roof.

My issue with the 2018 K5 Tahoe is that it doesn’t stay true to the first generation K5 Blazers. Those initial trucks didn’t exist until 1969. The shop used a 1968 Chevy C10 grille and light setup (67’s didn’t have amber side markers), which never appeared on a Blazer. The 69-72 grille and headlights would have worked just as well. The 69-72 is the same width with less rake and the turn signals are located in the bumper instead of in the grille. This is a personal choice, but one that doesn’t appear to be in line with the rest of the concept.

Throwing the K5 on there makes people think of the Blazers they love. Blazers have two doors and it is definitely possible to weld the rear doors shut and clean up those door handles on the Tahoe. I’ve seen it done. Maybe they ran out of time, money, or both.

K5 Tahoe frontend

These wheels need to stop being put on classic trucks. LMC Truck did it with their ‘72 Chevy K10 and they were wrong there too.

Props where it’s due

This truck should have two doors and a removable top to be a proper tribute to a K5 Blazer, but the name K5 Tahoe means it isn’t meant to be a Blazer tribute. K5 really just identifies the shorter wheelbase and that it’s four-wheel-drive. Chevy hasn’t used “K5” since 1991 in identifying its models.

This is someone’s design concept that they came up with and executed really well. I can’t even begin to imagine the number of hours that went into this build. It’s not my particular cup of tea, but it is definitely a build that will be polarizing for everyone.

[Images courtesy of Motorious.com, LMC Truck]

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22 responses to “We have thoughts on this Chevrolet K5 Tahoe build for SEMA”

  1. neight428 Avatar

    The full sized two door SUV is cool, undoubtedly. Apparently “cool” doesn’t turn a profit. I guess this nostalgia bastard is about as good as we’ll see in the genre for the foreseeable future.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    So a little more like this previous SEMA build?

    Agree wholeheartedly on those wheels too – yuck

  3. Maymar Avatar

    I’d sort of like to see the retro paint job treatment (that was a thing for about 15 minutes a few years back, albeit a good thing) done to a late-model Yukon XL, since the headlight/body line sort of mimics the swoop already done here (the Suburban/Tahoe’s bulgier lights wouldn’t work as well). I think that sort of homage would work better than what’s been done here (although it looks clean at least).


  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    The original Blazers only had the two doors, but that didn’t prevent access to the second row through the passenger door. I’m not sure how easily you could hinge-mount a modern seat full of airbag-controlling weight sensors and other useless crap like that. And I really don’t see anyone changing this over to a detachable roof.

    A better, more do-able choice would be with a similar treatment to a Suburban, and make it a three-door.


    1. P161911 Avatar

      Exactly. K5 Blazer = 2 doors.

    2. Christopher Tracy Avatar
      Christopher Tracy

      I love the three door Suburbans.

    3. outback_ute Avatar

      Maybe painting the pillars body colour and just the roof white would work better? I much prefer that grille too.

    4. outback_ute Avatar

      Maybe painting the pillars body colour and just the roof white would work better? I much prefer that grille too.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        No. If someone really wanted to Blazerize the Tahoe, they should try to make it appear more proportional to a 2-door real thing. Make the C-pillar blend into the glass by tinting the windows and hiding the painted surface of the C-pillars behind the same shade of Lexan. Then make the A- and D-pillars chunkier covering some of the glass), and paint those white.


        1. outback_ute Avatar

          From Chris’s conclusion, “the name K5 Tahoe means it isn’t meant to be a Blazer tribute”. I’m just wanting to make it look better than what it is with white emphasizing how wide the pillars are. If K5 means shorter wheelbase, couldn’t this still qualify as it is shorter WB than any pickup?

          1. 0A5599 Avatar

            I reached a different conclusion than Chris. Mine: they didn’t call it a K5 Blazer because Chevy currently sells a Blazer, which is a FWD/AWD CUV entirely different than a Tahoe. The truck featured in the story began life on a Tahoe assembly line.

          2. outback_ute Avatar

            Yes, aware of the new Blazer, it crossed my mind from one of the recent topics on change of format for vehicles (starting with Corvette?) that I was too late to bother commenting on.

        2. Zentropy Avatar

          There are many inconsistencies with this vehicle, making it hard to know what they were really shooting for:

          (1) “K5” is part of the original Blazer name, and it’s a notation that was never used on the Tahoe that replaced it, nor the smaller S-10 Blazer. Why Chevrolet chose something so similar to the K10/K20/K30 naming of its 4WD pickups is confusing, but regardless, a K5 is– and only is– a full-sized Blazer. If this isn’t meant to be Blazer tribute, then the builder is misusing the reference.

          (2) If it is really intended to be a Blazer tribute, then the proportions are (literally) a stretch. The original Blazer was a relatively short truck for something so large. A ’69 K5 is a full 26″ shorter than the current Tahoe, which itself is closer in size to the ’69 Suburban. Even the mid-90s two-door Tahoe was 16″ shorter than this truck. Getting the proportions right would mean cutting so much out of the wheelbase that the rear doors would essentially be eliminated. That would require a ton of work, and isn’t really feasible for a face-lifted tribute. You’d almost be better off starting with a regular-cab Silverado, welding the bed to the cab, and fitting a shortened removable camper top.

          (3) As Christopher pointed out, the grille on this truck was never worn by a production K5 Blazer. While I like the earlier pickup grille that they used, the ’69/’70 grille is just as clean, and the one from ’71/’72 that followed is arguably more iconic to the Blazer (at least in my memory).

          (4) As for the modifications that were made, the hood should come forward much further and slope down more steeply to match the character of the original. Doing so would integrate the transplanted grille and headlights more cleanly, but here it looks like a hack job. And I agree with CT that the wheels are a bad choice (I personally would have gone with dog-dish hubcaps on white steelies).

  5. Zentropy Avatar

    Strangely, the SEMA K5 reminds me more of a Dodge, for some reason. That’s a helluva lot of work for something that looks so oddly proportioned.

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    It looks a bit like those South American versions of North American cars…sort of familiar, but also…not. If this wasn’t a reference to something that most people have grown accustomed to, and which, thus, can’t be beat, I think I’d like the design. It looks simple, rugged, not as grossly overwrought as modern US trucks do.

  7. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    Dream Factory Blow did it better or at least cuter. These are body kits for Suzuki Wagon R kei trucks https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/33f69cc3fa1127306d2d900c0ceb8d295e84d8e90527450b4a5c6f98698028f4.jpg .

  8. kogashiwa Avatar

    That’s gotta be at least three times the size of the original?

  9. Batshitbox Avatar

    It’s just the paint on this that bugs me. It wouldn’t have cost too much more to mimic the paint lines of the removable rear shell of the K/5 by continuing the blue up the A-pillar and across the front of the roof, landau style.
    Also, the FJ Cruiser pretty much owns the white top over blue body scheme in this century. Classic Chev should be red.

  10. Zentropy Avatar

    The Tahoe is a body-on-frame truck. Why not just drop a restored K5 body down on a shortened Tahoe chassis, customize the Tahoe interior bits to fit the old shell, and call it a day? You’d have everything that’s efficient, comfortable, and advanced about the Tahoe, but with the authentic good looks of the classic K5.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      As an example, consider how this brilliant craftsman (from my humble home state!) combined a 2014 Shelby GT500 with a 1969 Mustang body shell:

      He did this with unibody cars! Surely a body-on-frame transplant would be comparatively simple.


      1. salguod Avatar

        Or what the Ring Brothers did marrying a 1948 Cadillac and an ATS-V.

        Of course, that took 2 1948 Cadillacs and 2 new ATS-Vs…



      2. salguod Avatar

        Or what the Ring Brothers did marrying a 1948 Cadillac and an ATS-V.

        Of course, that took 2 1948 Cadillacs and 2 new ATS-Vs…



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