they used to call those trucks cucv's I think.. I had one a blazer as my personal vehicle in korea... I took that thing places no full size truck should go.. (all without a turbo!) pretty solid, but heavy chassis iirc. factory 14 and 12 bolts with locker and lsd from the get go. Good platform for a truggy/buggy like your friend has done. Looks real fun..
a near-death experience is just god following "catch and release" regulations...
john (johnny) henley