The S-10 Blazer/Jimmy is without a doubt one of the most forgettable GM products ever made. Its basic, average looks, image of safety and unusually large, flat trunk made it the darling of high school parking lots nationwide. But is it possible to buy one of the dirtiest examples ever, restore it on a budget, and make a profit on resale?
Of course it is.
As some of you may know, I flip cars. I normally prefer buying interesting stuff: WRXs, Mustangs, Camaros, an S2000, a BMW, a GTO, etc. However, the boring stuff makes the quick money. Now, I normally don’t disclose the numbers like Tavarish does, but since this was a really small-profit flip, I’ll give you guys the scoop on flipping my Blazer.
Part 1: The Blazer, err… Jimmy
Photo credit: Wikipedia
The S-10 Blazer was……. an SUV. Sorry, I could try to give you a boring Motorweek style review of the S-10 Blazer/Jimmy, but you guys don’t care to hear it, and I certainly don’t care to look it up. I’ve owned 4 of these things, and I’ve still never looked up their specs.
Here’s what you do need to know. The S-10 Blazer/Jimmy was built on the GMT330 platform. It used the 4.3 Vortec V6 and was mated to a 4L60E 4-Speed Automatic. It won Playboy magazine’s 1995 Truck of the Year and yes, apparently that’s a thing.
The S-10 blazer also had more faces than Michael Jackson, as displayed below.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
There’s a certain addict-like behavior that happens with people like me, or maybe just me. I spend many hours on Craigslist searching high and low for cars that need love and can bring profit. I’ve got a whole slew of special search terms I use to find them and it’s a real rush of endorphins whenever a great car or an amazing deal comes along; It’s like drugs for the financially savvy.
However, there are lows. In my area of the country, October/November turns into a very real drought. Not a damn thing could be found with a busted engine, blown head gaskets or any abnormality. Everyone’s cars seemed either well sorted out or just priced reasonably.
So there I was, fresh off of three recent sells trying to find the next project and I find nothing. It isn’t long before desperation kicks in.
While browsing Craigslist at work, I come upon a 1996 GMC Jimmy 4×4 listed with a lifter tick. On the 4.3 Vortec, after removing the intake, the lifters are quite easy to get to, meaning the repair is not quite as serious as one may fear.
It was a dinky little deal, but at least something was better than nothing.
Oh yeah, here’s the listing picture from the Craigslist ad.
And there was only one. This is the condition somebody felt it was acceptable to list their vehicle to entice potential buyers. After many, many thoughts in my head, I still couldn’t fathom why somebody would make zero attempts and even making their car recognizable in the ad. However, the $875 list price and only 118,000 miles were enough to entice me.
I scheduled a time with the seller to look at the car after work. The car was about 40 miles from me and I didn’t make it to the destination until about 7:30, otherwise known as ‘Dark O’Clock’ We drove the car around some on the surrounding dirt roads of Nowheretown and parked it under a light to try to get a better look at it. All I could see was more dirt.
However, the body looked pretty straight and the lifter tick was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be so after some haggling and hardball, I purchased the Jimmy and drove it home.
Part 2: Dirty Bird
Later, I saw the car in the daylight and really grasped what kind of dirtball I had really purchased.
Clearly, the first step here was just giving it’s ass a wash.
I found out the Jimmy had a stripe that day.
A post-wash assessment revealed a mostly straight body. The hood and the roof had some clearcoat peel, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The tires were chunky all-terrains with near new tread.
The interior was about on par with the exterior dirtiness. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I knew immediately this was not a job I could tackle on my own. I called up a local detail shop and dumped it off for them to deal with because I know when to bow out of a fight.
Luckily, they made mincemeat of my pitri dish on wheels.
Next, I turned my attention to the lifter tick. After lifting the intake and replacing the intake gaskets, I noticed all the lifters were solid. There wasn’t any gunk or buildup, no chunks missing or residue that would impede their movement. It certainly was strange, but the car was driveable as-is, so I put it back together to put some more miles on first.
Later, I finally addressed the clearcoat peel. I contacted a couple suppliers for a used black hood and was presented with two choices: Hood A: a $100 black hood in average condition or Hood B: a $50 black hood. However, the man with Hood B did disclose to me that somebody had keyed that car and had written ‘BITCH’ on every single panel. That shop was in Arkansas, so I’ll just chalk it up to an average cousin/spouse argument.
Later, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into repainting the roof.
I ended up overspraying it all the way on the roof rails. In my defense, I had initially planned on painting the roof rails flat black to look appropriate as well, but it never came into fruition.
Along with the new paint, I added some floormats to help the look of the interior.
However, after all of this work, the lifter tick was not going away. It had been two weeks and I’d put approximately 150 miles on the Jimmy and the tick was just as present as before. It never seemed to hurt the SUV’s performance, but it was a constant annoyance to listen to.
After some deliberation and calculation, I figured it was more advantageous to sell the Blazer as-is instead of sinking more time into an SUV I was only going to sell for $3,000.
So, with that said, I drove the Blazer to a nearby house and took some pictures. Of course, minutes into my ‘photoshoot’, the rain started to come down. Normally, I’m very proper with my ad photos, as some of you may have seen with the S2000 I used to own.
A photo can truly make a difference. Buyers take note of these things and clearly they make assumptions on the condition of the car: It’s called profiling and we do it every day, whether we like to admit it or not. I like my ad photos to present the idea that the car had been very well taken care of, so I put the car in the clean part of the shop, and throw car porn in the back.
However, as this was a cheap as-is Blazer, I decided to forgo all of that and just shoot pictures in the rain.
Part 3: A Pleasant Surprise
My phone buzzed constantly the next day, like some sort of malfunctioning sex toy, off the hook with calls. I knew the car would have pretty good demand, being a 4×4 Chevy not long after our first snowfall, but the amount of interest was surprising.
I had a number of individuals come look at the car. Of the five people that came the first day, three of them tried offering $1000-$1200, which was quite a ways off my $2000 asking price. I heard all of their offers, and sent them on their way packing.
However, later in the evening, a man started texting me quite interested in the truck. He had scheduled to look at the car in two days, and I told him everything he wanted to know, including first come first serve. About, a minute after sending the text, the man calls me asking if I’d be willing to drive the car to him (30 mi) for $2100. He sounded like a fairly honest normal middle-aged man and even offered to have a police officer come and supervise the deal. After hearing this, I told him there was no need and accepted the deal.
My father and I drove the car to him. He was in a wheelchair due to a recent accident of some sort, and he was ecstatic to get the Blazer.
|1996 GMC Jimmy 4×4||-$700|
|New Intake Gasket||-$30|
Of course, it’s not as good as making $2,500 or $3,000, but for one month’s time and about three days actual work, I’ll count this as a win.
This may or may not be the only time I write up and document and flip like this, numbers and all. However, let me know if you’re interested in seeing more.
Jay Lauer is a self-proclaimed master flipper, who normally doesn’t write about, but flips cool and non-cool cars on the internet. He owns a $150 Buick and has formerly owned the world’s cheapest Honda S2000. He has over 25 flips to his resumé and set the world’s quickest flip record, probably, buy buying and selling a Saturn in under three hours.