While special editions of popular automobiles are certainly nothing new, Chevy recently announced a new version of the Blazer that’s set to arrive at several Chevrolet Cincinnati, OH dealerships. While some fans of the Blazer, which has been in production since 1969, are interested and intrigued with the concept of a new version, others are rather bewildered and even slightly shocked at the nameplate that Chevy has attached to their newest member of the fleet.
The new version of Chevy’s venerable and acclaimed Blazer will be called the Lansford Hastings Edition. We asked a couple of area residents what they thought about naming the newest edition of the Blazer after such a controversial and reviled figure in American history. The responses were unique. “Um, is he a made-up person?” Jansen Kilpatrick, a local resident commented. “I don’t know who that is, but I think someone might.” Our queries didn’t yield much in the way of results. For those who might be curious about the individual whose name will soon be a nameplate on the new Blazer, it seems some explanation is necessary.
Lansford Hastings, who was from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, might have been a name lost to the annals of history and time had it not been for a series of events he put into motion. It was 1845 when the would-be adventurer and perpetual malcontent published the Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon & California. While you might not be familiar with the text in question, the book had an effect on a group of pioneers who were heading west to seek fortune and a new life. This group of individuals is now known as “The Donner Party.” The book promised a shortcut known as the “Hasting’s cutoff,” which led to the settlers being trapped within the Sierra Nevada mountain range during a harsh winter that would eventually lead to cannibalism and death. Naturally, Chevy’s choice to have a special edition of the Blazer named for this leader of wayward explorers of doomed westward expansion might seem controversial, to say the least.
In a recent press release, Chevy announced what their plans were for the new edition of the Blazer. Hoping to tap into the nostalgia that many of today’s consumers have for computer games such as The Oregon Trail, the Lansford Hastings edition of the Blazer will come without an infotainment screen center or GPS, and a spare tire is also conspicuous by its absence. All of this has been put in place on purpose, attempting to give people the authentic pioneer experience of roughing it and facing the tumultuous environment that the unknown offers.
We spoke with Michael Hove, a marketing executive from Chevy, hoping he could explain the appeal and what the manufacturer hopes to accomplish with this unique business venture. “It’s simple,” Hove began, “the pioneers of the 19th century were the bravest of the brave…at Chevy, we’ve been utilizing terms such as Silverado, Trailblazer, and Tahoe to carry on the lineage of prospectors, pioneers, and the heroes of yesteryear. Lansford Hastings got people to leave the comfort of their homes and travel west; by stripping away the comforts of GPS, our customers have a chance to face danger and have a pioneer experience unlike any other…if you have memories of playing Oregon Trail in elementary school, this is your chance to live it for real.”
We then asked Hove how he felt about the Donner party’s tragic end following Hasting’s Cutoff during their ill-fated expedition and how this new edition of the Blazer could possibly see history repeating itself. “Bring extra supplies” was the only advice he gave.