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The Boys at Tre 5 Customs Gave James Hardin's '84 Blazer the Old Nip/Tuck

by Scott Mason

“The day that I bought this Blazer, I got pulled over driving it home. After a few minutes of back and forth, and a whole lotta sweet talking, the officer’s suspicions that the truck was stolen were completely erased. ‘Hell, son, nobody in their right mind would steal something this f***in’ ugly.’” And so it began. James Hardin limped his new-to-him, ugly duckling ‘84 Blazer home to show the family and begin the process of turning this once-hairy chested, athletic, desert-crawling 4 wheel-drive beast into a beautiful dancing queen, cloaked in a lavish Louis Vuitton dress and Louboutin shoes.

Once he had the truck in his shop, he wasted little time getting the show on the road. Within an hour of pulling the wheezy small block out of the engine bay, James had an eager beaver Craigslister backing up to his garage door to pick up the old lump. “The day that I pulled the engine out at my house, I had a buyer come to pick it up. My wife thought it was so cool that I could sell the old engine for enough money to cover the cost of the new LS3 crate engine for the project.” With a wink and a nod, James also asked us to keep this his “little secret”. No prob, dude.

As the story goes, “The original plan was to build the truck in my garage. Since Jeremy Rice (of Tre 5 Customs) and I are friends, I bought a lot of parts from him to get the build going. At one point, he told me that if I supplied enough Tito‘s vodka, he’d come up to the house and help me with it occasionally. After about a year, I realized that I was never going to finish the truck with a plan like that. So Jeremy and I made arrangements for me to drop the crusty Blazer off at Tre 5 to have them finish it up.”

As time went by, Jeremy and the crew at Tre 5 Customs kept pushing through the process. They built a custom aluminum fuel tank around an Aeromotive Stealth fuel pump, completed extensive modifications to the frame rails and floor to get the pinch rails to lay on the ground, even with those big ol’ 24×10’s out back. Tons of rust and funk was cleaned up in an around the body before it was sent next door to Frank Rechlin at Ikandy Paintworks for a paint and bodywork makeover. Frank took care of straightening the lines and smoothing over the shaved emblem, trim, and key holes before laying down his magic in a deep, deep coat of effervescent GM fleet white. It’s a crisp color that simply works very well to compliment the interior and engine compartment.

Speaking of the interior, the fine folks at Elevated Design in Phoenix did a bang up job with the stitchery. The custom door cards and center console look right at home inside the cabin along with the cleverly constructed subwoofer enclosure and endless custom touches throughout. The TMI seats utilize the same textiles and fabrics to create a cohesive, high-end atmosphere.

Once the work on the Blazer was beginning to wrap up, the discussion began to shift to “What’s next?” “I never planned for the truck to be at SEMA,” quips Hardin, “but Jeremy said he could probably get it there if I wanted it to happen. Less than two days later, he called and said it was a go. Restomod Air wanted it for their booth! A couple weeks after SEMA, we took the truck to Dino’s Git Down to show it off in the Tre 5 booth, and then I drove it home to Prescott. At that point, the truck only had about 100 miles on it, but I was confident enough in Tre 5’s workmanship that I knew it would make the drive up the mountain to my home. Since then I’ve been driving it as much as possible. Pretty much every day there’s not snow on the ground.”

She sure is a beauty, but there’s nothing better than someone enjoying their new toy to the fullest. We’re positive that James and his family will enjoy every mile with their beautiful new girl with a newfound swagger.


  • Chevrolet Performance LS3 525HP
  • Holley intake manifold
  • All American Billet front accessory drive
  • Holley valve covers
  • Ultimate Headers stainless steel headers
  • Custom 3” stainless exhaust system with Borla mufflers, exits through rear bumper
  • Entropy Cooling Products aluminum radiator
  • 4L65E transmission with 2400 RPM stall converter
  • External transmission cooler with dual electric fans
  • Porterbuilt-equipped chassis
  • Bottom of frame under the cab was shortened to remove the “bump’, new body mounts were made, and lots of sheetmetal work to the floor was done to allow the pinch rails to sit on the ground
  • Accuair eLevel air management with VT tank
  • Dual Viair compressors
  • Stainless brake lines, AN fuel lines throughout chassis with all plumbing and wiring hidden within the frame rails
  • Custom Tre 5 fuel tank with Aeromotive Stealth 340lph in-tank pump
  • CPP modular front spindles
  • Rack & Pinion steering
  • Porterbuilt anti roll bar
  • Slam Specialties SS7 air bags
  • Currie 9” Ford rear end with limited slip diff and 3.70:1 ring & pinion
  • Currie axles
  • Trailing arm and Watts link rear suspension
  • Baer Pro+ 6P brake system with 14” rotors and 6-piston calipers, front/rear
  • Baer Remaster master cylinder with hydroboost
  • Ididit steering column
  • Intro Raider wheels, 22x8.5 & 24x10
  • Toyo tires, 255/35R22 & 275/30R24
  • Little Shop MFG hood hinges
  • United Pacific LED headlights, taillights, and mirrors
  • All new glass from Precision Replacement Products installed by State 48 Glass Company
  • GSI Machine and Fab door handles
  • Shaved gas door, emblems, trim, and key holes
  • Paint and body by Frank Rechlin at Ikandy Paintworks
  • Dakota Digital HDX gauges
  • JL Audio Bluetooth audio control
  • JL Audio amps, speakers, and subwoofers (in custom down-firing enclosure)
  • Restomod Haymaker climate control system with polished vents
  • Billet Specialties steering wheel
  • TMI Products seats with gray vinyl and tartan inserts
  • Custom interior by Elevated Design, Phoenix, AZ

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