Meet Sancha: 1972 K5 Blazer By Total Performance Motorsports

The 2024 Grand National Roadster Show was a smashing success. In a way, it’s a bit of sensory overload as all the coolest cars in the country congregate in a single place for one weekend in Pomona, California. Although GNRS is mostly known as a celebration of pre-war Ford roadsters, there are cars and trucks of every stripe at the show. Most of the top builders in the country are present at GNRS, and it’s a great way to get your finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the custom car hobby.

Any car show veteran knows when an event is over, there’s always one or two builds that linger in the mind and stand out from the crowd. Danny Rios’ 1972 Chevy K5 Blazer, was that kind of a rig.

Blazer Origins

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the origin of GM’s Bronco buster from the late ’60s. The first Chevrolet K5 Blazer was introduced in 1969. It was essentially a short-wheelbase Chevy truck with a removable hardtop, offering a full convertible riding option. Initially, it was only offered in 4X4, but in 1970, a two-wheel drive version became available. As we all know, the K/5  Blazer has become red hot with collectors and is a great starting point for custom builds. 1972 was also the last year of the coveted first-generation C10-based Blazer as well.

Getting to Know Sancha

Danny’s 1972 Blazer was built in the darkest hour of the pandemic by Aaron Cushman and his team at Total Performance Motorsports, out of Salinas, California. Aaron is a tall guy with an easy demeanor and a big smile. He’s also one of the top builders on the West Coast growing up as a drag racing fan with gasoline in his veins.


Fine Wine, Not Turpentine

When we saw the Blazer shimmering under the bright lights at the Pomona Fairplex, we were drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Here’s what we found out. Aaron told Street Muscle, “We wanted to leave as much factory DNA intact as possible with Sancha. The body lines were sharpened up with massaged wheel wells, fender body lines, and tweaked door sills. Then we tilted the windshield back 14 degrees.”

The result is a K5 Blazer distilled down to its essence without mucking up the masterpiece GM styling. Built as a true roadster, it has no A/C, door glass, or windshield wipers. All changes are very subtle but the effect is greater than the sum of the mods. When the body was laser straight and true, Precision Custom Autobody sprayed it out in a House of Kolor Candy hue called “Kandy Sancha Red,” with a gold base, hence the truck’s nickname.

Stout Foundation

Underneath Sancha’s refreshed, voluptuous body, the guys slid a Porterbuilt Fabrication frame underneath to provide a stout foundation. From there, they added Wilwood brakes, Moser rearend, and a Currie third member. Sancha rides on an AccuAir ride system with Firestone bags and touches the tarmac with 22″ Intro wheels and sticky, Nitto Invo low-profile rubber. The finishing touch is a full belly pan painted to match the body.

Owner Danny wanted a vintage-flavored drivetrain for the truck, so Aaron and his team installed an old-school 383cid stroker backed up by a TCI TH350 automatic transmission. The front accessory drive is Billet Specialties married with a polished Edelbrock intake, CPP master cylinder, and other components. Danny wanted a clean underhood look so all the sheet metal in the engine bay was tucked and smoothed. The result is a tidy engine compartment with plenty of room to navigate.

Inside Sancha

Aaron continues, “When it came to the interior, we wanted to stay close to OEM but bump it up a notch. We combined the factory dash but swapped in some early ’60s Impala elements including pleated door panels, seats, and metal buttons. Remember, this is a roadster so we left out the back seats and upholstered the rear cargo area. We added German square carpeting, Classic Instruments gauges, and Billet Specialties steering wheel and pedals. Daniel’s Custom Auto Interiors did a great job here.”

Acknowledgments and Awards Galore

Sancha took three years to build and was worth the wait. It won GNRS 2024 Best In Class, Truck/SUV Custom/Modified, and also took Best In Class as the Sacramento Autorama a few months earlier. It also nabbed a Meguiars Magnificent Masterpiece Award and is currently a contender for Goodguys Truck of the Year as well. Not too shabby in its first year of existence.

No Shrinking Violet

Owner Danny Rios intends to drive the Blazer and the Sancha was built to accommodate his wishes.  As we all know a custom car or truck is never really done, but for now, Danny will be driving the truck in Salinas showing her off to the locals and many admirers.

As far as Aarom Cushman and Total Performance Motorsports go, they’re off to the next build. Stay tuned to Street Muscle Mag for the latest project from Aaron and Company.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an editor at Power Automedia. He digs all flavors of automobiles, from classic cars to modern EVs. Dave loves music, design, tech, current events, and fitness.
Read My Articles