Stats Box »  Engine: 4.3-liter Vortec V-6»  Wheels: Chrome 20-inch Incubus Sinister on Yokohama Runway tires »  Exterior: Chrome grill, Euro Clear headlights, bumper lights, tail lights, locking billet gas door, 2-inch suspension drop, 3-inch blocks (in the rear), vertical doors »  Interior: Painted dash, billet gauge surround unit, carbon fiber gauge cluster pod, Auto Meter fuel pressure and oil pressure gauges, custom pedals, Jensen 7-inch head unit, Audiobahn 6-by-9-inch and 6.5-inch speakers, 20-inch television, Power Acoustic capacitor, two 12-inch Audiobahn D Jones edition subwoofers, Audiobahn 1000-watt amplifier, 7-inch ceiling-mounted T-View television

Ask a true Chevrolet Blazer enthusiast what made its two-door models "Xtreme" and an honest person might reply, "good marketing." That's little consolation for the person who is looking for more from the 4.3-liter Vortec engine than the measly 190 horsepower it was rated to produce.


So when Gene Gibson found a 2001 Blazer Xtreme while searching through the newspaper, looks alone would have to save it. But Gibson was a believer in the improbable.

When he went to inspect the truck at a local dealership, Gibson learned that the Xtreme he had his sights set on had been used by a farmer to transport bags of manure back and forth across his land. Armed with this new information, Gibson gave the truck an extra-thorough examination. When all seemed right, he signed on the dotted line.

As is true for so many car enthusiasts, the modification process began unintentionally. But once it started, it was hard to stop.

The first things to go were the wheels, which he replaced with a set of chrome 20-inch Incubus Sinister wheels. Next a small stereo was installed, but that too was eventually upgraded to a Jensen 7-inch flip-out head unit. The high-range sound was given greater lift with two sets of Kenwood tweeters installed in the A-pillars of the truck. A set of Audiobahn 6.5-inch midrange speakers replaced the old stock set in the front doors, followed by 6-by-9-inch speakers in the back doors. The stock alternator was unable to keep up with all those upgrades, so Gibson installed a 240-amp alternator in its place.

During a weekend away, Gibson handed over the Xtreme to a close friend who customized the rear storage compartment with two flush-mounted, 100-watt Pioneer amplifiers directing power to the midrange speakers. Two 12-inch Audiobahn subwoofers were installed to complete the audio experience. The centerpiece of the setup displayed a 20-inch television that Gibson says keeps the showgoers' attention at auto events, where whirling lights and buzzing electronics are required to stay competitive.

Some might criticize the boxy unattractiveness of the exterior, but Gibson saw only potential. A chrome grill complemented the chrome wheels and created a classier front fascia. Euro Clear headlights and bumper lights were inserted, and the Xtreme was dropped 2 inches to create a more aggressive look. The final modification to the exterior was the installation of vertical doors.

As Gibson worked his way into the interior, the dash was painted and various pressure gauges were added. All the plastic under the hood was given a new paint job and hood dressings were added. Gibson plans to take his Xtreme to another level by adding racing seats front and rear and fiberglassing much of the interior.

What do you drive? A 2001 Chevrolet Blazer Xtreme.

Why do you drive it? I like the attention it gets everywhere I go.

What is your most memorable driving experience? Driving to Kings Dominion [while] studying for a final with my wife reading the chapter questions to me.

What was the first vehicle you owned? The first car I owned was a 1983 Pontiac Sunbird station wagon. I once crammed 10 people in that car to go to Wendy's.

What kind of music are you currently listening to in your truck? I listen to all kinds of music. But right now I am listening to Nickleback.

And your first ticket? What was it for? It was two days after I was off my provisionals. I was late for work and got caught doing 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. Man, my parents were mad. I was still on their insurance.