THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1975 GMC Jimmy SUV owned by Andrew Biondo
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Collectible vehicles today come in all shapes and sizes, including the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the Range Rover Defender, Toyota’s FJ40, the Ford Bronco and other well-known SUVs of the last few decades. Biondo says his prized Jimmy, also marketed as Chevrolet’s K5 Blazer, is the last year General Motors offered a fully removable top in this model. His ride, which underwent a full frame-off restoration, sports the original 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine. But the real value for this owner is sentimental, since the SUV was formerly owned by his younger brother, Daniel, who lost his life at age 17 in a 1986 auto accident. “I think about him every time I turn the key,” says Biondo.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
The Jimmy has been in the family since 1985.
WHERE HE FOUND IT
It was advertised in Newsday.
Biondo says the Jimmy was driven for the first two years of the family’s ownership before he tried to do some minor body work to keep it on the road. “Eventually the restoration became a frame-off and a complete frame disassembly project,” he says. “The truck would spend the next 25 years undergoing a methodical re-assembly, culminating on June 28, 2013 with the vehicle being registered and insured and ready to drive, this time with New York historical (license) plates.” The frame and body were thoroughly refurbished. “Body panels are all genuine, purchased from General Motors in 1988 and 1989,” he adds. “Interior seats and seating hardware were also replaced.” The Jimmy features a host of mechanical embellishments, including a custom exhaust. There’s also a custom audio system.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Persistence and patience pay off,” he advises. “There were plenty of times over the 20-plus years that other priorities -- family, college, kids -- would have to come first. But at the end of it all, it was well worth the time and effort.”
“Sentimental value far exceeds any monetary costs or appraisal,” says Biondo. The NADA Guides values similar models in top condition at around $27,000 before modifications.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“The sentimental value of this vehicle,” he says, “was the biggest factor in my effort of 25 years to restore it to its current state.”