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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking at some of the other project threads here, I feel the need to start off with a bit of a disclaimer. I'm not planning any engine swaps or extreme building here, just a newbie learning to wrench and trying to turn a cranky, crusty, neglected Blazer into a presentable daily driver, and show a bit of what it's like to own and maintain an American car in a foreign country.

This is my truck. It's a 1990 Chevrolet S10 Blazer. 4.3L V6 with automatic transmission, two door, two wheel drive.
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Automotive tire Sport utility vehicle


Some of you might be wondering, how does an S10 Blazer end up in England? I wondered this myself, so after some detective work I actually managed to contact a couple of the previous owners and peice together most of the story.

Built in December 1989, it was purchased in Alabama before the owner moved to Mountain View, California. It was registered in the UK in December of 1990, so only spent a very brief time in the USA before the owner had it shipped over to England, where he was working as a government contractor at RAF Feltwell, a deep space tracking radar station. When the original owner left the UK, he left the Blazer behind, opting to take a Lotus he'd purchased in the UK home with him instead.

The Blazer then moved around the country, spending some time in London before going up to Aberdeen in Scotland. There's a three or four year gap in the vehicle's MOT (Ministry Of Transport) inspection history, so I think it sat rusting in a field for a while, and a number of parts went missing, but in 2018 it ended up being auctioned and purchased by a car dealer in Blackburn, who quickly decided they didn't want it, and listed it up on Ebay. Here's where my part begins.


I'd learned to drive the year before and while I already had a daily driver, I wanted a cool American car as a project to learn to wrench on. My brother had briefly owned a 1988 4x4 S10 Blazer with the 2.8L V6 in 2008, so we knew a little about the S-series going into it. Most importantly, we knew they were relatively small trucks and well suited to the narrow country roads around here.

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I bought it off Ebay in October 2018 for about £2,300, which is about $3k. From the other Blazers i've seen for sale here since buying mine, I paid a little more than i should have for a truck in this condition. I've seen nicer trucks sell for less, but it is what it is.

Seeing as it was built in December of 1989, and could possibly be one of the last vehicles built in the 1980s, I played with the idea of giving it a cool project name like Reagan's Revenge or something appropriately 1980s themed, but nothing's ever really stuck. It's just the Blazer, and seeing as my intent is to keep it fairly plain and stock, I think that fits just fine.

So, the 'project' part? Well, I wanted a daily driver, so the first thing I had to do was make it work properly, then think about making it look pretty later.

Though it had a valid Ministry of Transport (MOT) inspection and it was technically legal to drive on the roads, it was plagued with problems from day one, and took a lot of work and frustration to get it running right. I replaced the fuel pump, radiator, starter, shock absorbers, most of the ignition system, and a whole host of other small repairs. At the start of this year, during the lockdown we had here in the UK, I was off work for a couple of weeks and spent the time replacing my valve stem seals.

When the lockdown ended and I went back to work in June, I decided to see if replacing the valve stem seals had helped with my oil consumption issue by driving it for just a few days. I ended up daily driving it for the entire summer. Besides a week where I had to park it up to drop the fuel tank out of it and replace a crumbling fuel hose, it ran like clockwork.

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Though it was perfectly reliable as a daily driver, I took it on a long camping trip later in the summer and discovered the oil loss issue hadn't been fixed. but I did a little work to it the other week, replaced the timing cover crankshaft seal and the harmonic balancer which had a large groove in it, and I'm optimistic that I've fixed the issue for good this time. But unfortunately now we're in lockdown 2.0, and while I'm still going to work, the long trip I had planned to test it on is now cancelled.

There's still a few mechanical gripes that I need to sort out, but I'm comfortable that it works well enough for me to turn my focus to the bodywork and aesthetics again. I replaced the passenger side rear quarter panel in September last year, but it was my first attempt at bodywork or welding, and it didn't really turn out all that well. It's solid, but it's ugly. I ran out of time and the weather was about to turn on me, so I rushed the filler and it ended up looking like it's carved out of stone.

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I'd like to cut it all out at some point and do it properly with an actual patch panel, but shipping entire quarter patch panels to the UK is hellishly expensive and I'm holding off on that for the moment.

I found someone in the UK parting out a 1992 S10 pickup earlier this year, so I managed to score a less rusty fender to replace my rotted passenger side with. I plan on repairing it over the winter and getting it ready to paint next year. The guy only wanted £25 for the core support, and mine does have some rust in it, so i brought it home with me knowing it might not fit my 1990. Turns out I was right, it won't fit my old style front end, and I don't want to change grille, so I'm probably just going to end up repairing my original core support instead.

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I have an inspection coming up in January, and I have a feeling they might fail me on the holes in my rocker panels. so my task for the fall/winter is to get those fixed and prepare the fender for paint. I have access to a spray shop at work and the guys have said I can probably use it, so I'm going to try to get as much bodywork as I can done over the winter and then get it sprayed and looking a bit prettier in time to go places next summer.

Again, apologies if this isn't as interesting as some builds out there. I just felt like sharing what I've been doing over the last two years. This is my first real foray into wrenching and as much as it sucks sometimes, I've found it really rewarding to see the pile of garbage I started with actually turning into something pretty nice after all the hard work.
 

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1994 GMC Jimmy SLE 4.3 CPI 4x4
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Swaps are all fine and dandy, but some of us just want to keep our trucks relatively stock. Not everything has to be a 400 LS swap, the 4.3 are plenty for these trucks in my opinion. I’m glad that little guy didn’t just rot in a field far away from home! Keep us updated on it, I at least am interested in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you! I'm glad I'm not alone. Custom trucks are nice and all, but even a stock Blazer is pretty exotic over here.

I'd really hate to be the guy to send this thing to the junkyard, I came close to throwing in the towel over the first winter I had it, but I'm glad I persevered and kept it on the road. For all the problems I've had with it, it's never stranded me anywhere and the interior is super nice considering how crusty the rest of it is. Now i've got sound deadener, a headliner, and a working radio back in it, it's pretty much perfect on the inside.
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B4U Task Force Admin
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There are a couple of members in the UK on the site. They've really fixed their Blazers up. IIRC, one of them was propane fueled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've seen a few posts on the forums about UK owners, but none of them seem to be still around. My brother was on here in 2008 when he owned his '88 Blazer.

There's a FB group for S10 & Blazer owners in the UK, but it's mostly 2nd gen UK spec blazer owners. LPG is a pretty common conversion here for American vehicles just because of how thirsty they can be and how cheap LPG is.
 

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You might try reaching out to them. They might be able to point you in the right direction.
 
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Thank you! I'm glad I'm not alone. Custom trucks are nice and all, but even a stock Blazer is pretty exotic over here.
Are you on facebook? Website forums such as this one are great for posting up pictures and ongoing build stuff, but facebook is real time and has several good 1st gen pages for parts and stuff.

Ive shipped plenty of stuff to aus, I'm not sure how much more shipping is to the uk, but cant be much worse.

Make a list of what things you really need, or are hard to get there, and let’s see what we can come up with.

I have shipped axle bearings and odd parts to friends in Thailand, korea, aus, it’s not a real big thing, just need to know what youre looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are you on facebook? Website forums such as this one are great for posting up pictures and ongoing build stuff, but facebook is real time and has several good 1st gen pages for parts and stuff.

Ive shipped plenty of stuff to aus, I'm not sure how much more shipping is to the uk, but cant be much worse.

Make a list of what things you really need, or are hard to get there, and let’s see what we can come up with.

I have shipped axle bearings and odd parts to friends in Thailand, korea, aus, it’s not a real big thing, just need to know what youre looking for.
I am on FB, I've already gotten a great deal of help from the various S-10 pages I'm on. A lot more help than I've gotten from the UK American car groups, who can be a bit snobbish about anything that doesn't have a V8 and seem more interested in laughing at you than actually answering your question.

RockAuto ships to the UK and have been my go-to source for parts, but there's a lot of parts they don't carry. LMC ships to the UK too, but the only things I'd need from them are patch panels which are large and bulky and cost a lot to send in the mail. There's an American car specialist not far from me who'll order stuff for you, have it sent to their US location, and then they ship a bunch of stuff in a container over to the UK to save on postage costs. There's quite a few other people who offer similar services, so I've got options for the parts I can find for sale online, it's just the parts nobody sells that are the challenge.

The only parts I'm really hurting for are a set of rear quarter window rubbers and the seal that goes around the tailgate, neither LMC or RockAuto sell those so they'd probably have to come from a junkyard or off a truck someone's parting out. My tailgate seal leaks a bit and the side window seals aren't in great shape, so I'd like to get some new rear window rubbers so I can have all the glass re-sealed at some point.

I'm also missing a Blazer fender emblem, and I'd like one of the small CHEVROLET text emblems for the tailgate, so I can badge it up properly once the bodywork is repaired. I originally wanted one of the full width tailgate emblems with the gold text, or the text offset to one side, since I think that's probably what the truck would've had on it originally... but I've never seen any of them for sale.

I've seen the small badges for sale since they were used on a bunch of other vehicles, so I think that's the easiest option, and it still looks good.
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The passenger side seat hinge cover is also missing, so I could use one of those. I bought a Camaro cover for it since they looked about the same, but I didn't take into account the latch mechanism on the Blazer seats. Unlucky for me, this is the only peice of seat trim that doesn't interchange.
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All the parts besides the window and tailgate seals do pop up on Ebay from time to time, I passed up on a couple of fender emblems because they were scratched up and the seller wanted a lot for them, but since those sold I've only seen the 4x4 emblems. I've found a few bits I needed just by perseverance and checking Ebay and FB sales regularly, but it'd help a lot to have someone stateside to ship me stuff nobody else will bother to.
 

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1994 GMC Jimmy SLE 4.3 CPI 4x4
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I am on FB, I've already gotten a great deal of help from the various S-10 pages I'm on. A lot more help than I've gotten from the UK American car groups, who can be a bit snobbish about anything that doesn't have a V8 and seem more interested in laughing at you than actually answering your question.

RockAuto ships to the UK and have been my go-to source for parts, but there's a lot of parts they don't carry. LMC ships to the UK too, but the only things I'd need from them are patch panels which are large and bulky and cost a lot to send in the mail. There's an American car specialist not far from me who'll order stuff for you, have it sent to their US location, and then they ship a bunch of stuff in a container over to the UK to save on postage costs. There's quite a few other people who offer similar services, so I've got options for the parts I can find for sale online, it's just the parts nobody sells that are the challenge.

The only parts I'm really hurting for are a set of rear quarter window rubbers and the seal that goes around the tailgate, neither LMC or RockAuto sell those so they'd probably have to come from a junkyard or off a truck someone's parting out. My tailgate seal leaks a bit and the side window seals aren't in great shape, so I'd like to get some new rear window rubbers so I can have all the glass re-sealed at some point.

I'm also missing a Blazer fender emblem, and I'd like one of the small CHEVROLET text emblems for the tailgate, so I can badge it up properly once the bodywork is repaired. I originally wanted one of the full width tailgate emblems with the gold text, or the text offset to one side, since I think that's probably what the truck would've had on it originally... but I've never seen any of them for sale.

I've seen the small badges for sale since they were used on a bunch of other vehicles, so I think that's the easiest option, and it still looks good.
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The passenger side seat hinge cover is also missing, so I could use one of those. I bought a Camaro cover for it since they looked about the same, but I didn't take into account the latch mechanism on the Blazer seats. Unlucky for me, this is the only peice of seat trim that doesn't interchange.
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All the parts besides the window and tailgate seals do pop up on Ebay from time to time, I passed up on a couple of fender emblems because they were scratched up and the seller wanted a lot for them, but since those sold I've only seen the 4x4 emblems. I've found a few bits I needed just by perseverance and checking Ebay and FB sales regularly, but it'd help a lot to have someone stateside to ship me stuff nobody else will bother to.
The full tailgate panels are hard to find in any decent shape, at least around here. With that said, is this the fender badge you need?

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think I remember hearing that the full panels are just big stick-on emblems that are hard to remove without damaging, which would explain why I've never seen any for sale.

That's the correct fender badge, in a lot better shape than the last couple I saw. Ebay has the 'global shipping programme' which will automatically ship things from US sellers that don't post overseas to an Ebay facility in the US who will post it to your country, I've gotten a few items through them, but not everything has that as an option.

That emblem's saying it'd be $20 shipping via the global shipping program, I'd be interested to know how much cheaper it'd be to just get someone in the US like yourself to buy it and stick it in an envelope.
 

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1994 GMC Jimmy SLE 4.3 CPI 4x4
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I think I remember hearing that the full panels are just big stick-on emblems that are hard to remove without damaging, which would explain why I've never seen any for sale.

That's the correct fender badge, in a lot better shape than the last couple I saw. Ebay has the 'global shipping programme' which will automatically ship things from US sellers that don't post overseas to an Ebay facility in the US who will post it to your country, I've gotten a few items through them, but not everything has that as an option.

That emblem's saying it'd be $20 shipping via the global shipping program, I'd be interested to know how much cheaper it'd be to just get someone in the US like yourself to buy it and stick it in an envelope.
Well, according to the USPS website it would be like $36.45, so going through eBay seems to be your best bet. Plus it’s $6 shipping from the seller to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's actually interesting to know, I always expected the global shipping option to be more costly and that Ebay would take a cut out of it. It's nice to know that it's actually a fairly decent deal.

I may pick that badge up, thanks for posting it. I've been searching for them recently but that one didn't come up in my search results. Plenty of 4x4 badges, but none like that.
 

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I've sent a few shipments of parts back and forth with @Jorm He lives in Sweden, but could be worth reaching out to see if you can share shipments with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I did send him a message a month or two back, but had no reply. I figured it might be a little cheaper to get parts from Sweden than from the US.
 

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That’s a nice Blazer! Glad to see your taking cate of it and keeping it original. Getting them to run as intended is always so cool.
 

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I feel for you.
I've had many imported vehicles that are almost impossible to find parts for... Like a 1970 Isuzu Bellett...
Had to source a radiator cap from Australia. The American caps did not work.

Having an American vehicle in the UK is sort of expensive - just from the aspect of availability of parts.

I lived in Hunstanton/Heacham - Norfolk County near Sandringham. Was there for almost 2 years.
Wish I was still there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Norfolk's one of the nicer parts of England, in my books. I have friends up near Kings Lynn in that corner of the county. Quite a few Americans in the East of England thanks to the US Air force bases out there.

And yeah, the shipping is by far the worst part. Thankfully the S10 is a popular enough platform and the 4.3 is fairly common, so many of the parts aren't very hard to find, it's just very expensive to get them here.

I often end up missing out on good deals on secondhand parts on FB. Lots of people won't post stuff even within the USA, let alone overseas. Worst is when you score a great deal on a part but get screwed on the postage/import fees so still end up paying a bunch either way.
 

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Just swap it to a Rover V8, problem solved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, if I put a British engine in it then that would make getting spare parts a lot easier. But given that it's a Rover engine, I'd be needing those parts a lot more often.

I think I might just stick with the 4.3.
 
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