Suzuki samurai owners?
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  1. #1
    Senior Member small's's Avatar
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    Suzuki samurai owners?

    Any of you guys have or have had a samurai? Whats your take on them. I. Have always liked the looks of them and have been looking/considering picking one up. Clean unmolested ones seem to hold there value well. I just want one so I can take the top off and cruise around with the wife and kids on backroads. I get In trouble if I ride the bike alot so I thought it might not be a bad idea. I like that they are carbureted and easy to work on. Im not looking to do any serious wheeling jist toying around. We are all asain sized people so we should be good there. Oh and they are good on gas. Thought about a tracker because they are way cheaper and probably way more comfortable but they dont hold any value. But can be picked up cheap. Not that I need another vehicle. I really need to get rid of some of my junk but I just cant help it.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    I had a 1986 Sami for a couple years when I lived in NC.



    It was an absolute blast. Custom winch bumper extending the front frame, Jeep YJ springs, 9" total lift, TSL 33"s, ARB air lockers w/ takeoff hose, 5.10 gears, custom skids, and a big Weber carb. The PO did most of the work, I added the lockers and compressor, lowered the gearing, and installed the bigger carb.

    With the Weber carb and the lockers engaged, that sumbich would wheelie! Of course, the extra power started chewing through the drivetrain piece by piece right after I swapped the carb. The driveshaft U-joints went in two weeks, the PO's aftermarket 4.56 ring and pinions went after about 6 weeks (thus my new lockers and 5.10s), and after a few months the transmission started feeling crunchy, and I elected to sell her as-is instead of dragging her out here to AZ.

    That Sami was a mud-bog beast, and I had her straddling ravines on 2 kitty-cornered wheels many times. Just an unstoppable truck! When modified appropriately, Samurais are full-on Jeep-eaters. The downside is that Jeeps will be classics some day, but you can dump $10K into a zook and still have a truck that's only worth $3500. Not a big deal if you're gonna keep it forever, although parts can be hard to find. I waited weeks on mail-order replacement parts, and I had to have the 5.10 gears custom made. Yes, that was STUPID expensive!

    Some of those issues can be fixed by converting to a newer 1.6L Tracker engine and Toyota drivetrain, but those aren't cheap either.

    My heart races a little bit every time I see a Sami out on the road or trail, but as much as I loved mine I'm not sure I'd get another one. A fully convertible Blazer or a Jeep CJ is going to be much less hassle to keep on the road, and the aftermarket is more robust too. They're all expensive to mod and maintain compared to our TWs, but it seems to me the "classic" 4x4s offer a stronger return on investment when it comes time to sell over the quirky ones like the Sami.

    Still, there's just something about 'em! If you do get one, I'll be jealous.
    georayb, Fred and Fzyace like this.
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
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  3. #3
    Member georayb's Avatar
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    I used to have 3 Samurais, a 2 Door Tracker and a 4 door Sidekick sport. They were all good vehicles. If you need to drive 70 mph in a samurai, keep the tires small, stock or P215 at the most or start changing gears. Not a lot of power. The trackers and sidekick are much more comfortable and better power.
    I wouldn't get too hung up about resale value. The enjoyment you would get from a low cost tracker or sidekick would outweigh a small loss when you sell it. If you're not going to mod it much, I would go for the Tracker,Vitara or Sidekick. Plenty of power, smooth ride, great MPG and top down fun.
    There are also a bazillion parts in the scrapyards. Not that you would really need much. Mine were very reliable. I always like to have spares.
    Ray
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    Senior Member Polarpilot's Avatar
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    In 1980 I bought a Suzuki LJ80 convertible - that is the model before the Samurai - I still have it. We bought it as a summer car at the cottage - car turned 50,000 kms last summer. It is a bit of a hoot still to cruise down to the farm with the it. It has a 746 cc four cylinder overhead cam engine - carb of course - four speed transmission with a high and low differential on two or four wheel drive.
    It will climb a 42 degree slope -PICT0033 (3).JPGSuzuki LJ80.jpg
    Last edited by Polarpilot; 03-23-2014 at 02:31 PM. Reason: Added pictures
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  6. #5
    Senior Member B-dub's Avatar
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    I highly recommend a Samurai. Same concept as a TW: small and lightweight, cheap and easy to maintain, own, and operate, very capable as is, or like Ben you can sink a bunch of money into it to make a very capable rockcrawler. Most of all fun to drive. Their small size and light weight is a real asset in most situations off road. Like the TW about 55 to 65 is about it on the open road, and they don't do well with long uphill stretches or head winds. But for back roads they're great, and they get good gas mileage, too. With minor modifications to the door hinges the doors can be easily removed and replaced, and you can buy a kit that allows you to fold the windshield which of course adds a lot to the fun factor. I had a lot of fun with mine when it was stock with just a Doug Thorley header and 215-15 BFG All Terrains. Amazed a lot of people where it would go. You know how they say it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow? Same idea applies here as well. Some mild wheeling shots in the redrock near home:





    Later I did a spring over with bigger tires, locker, and deeper transfer case gears. Still fun, but more prone to breakage. It seems I could do about anything I wanted when it was stock without breaking things.

    A year or two ago my sons and grandson drew out for winter elk tags. They didn't want to take the Rhino because it had no protection from the weather. So, they borrowed my Samurai. It snowed on them. They were able to keep going where everyone else turned around, and consequently got into some good hunting areas. They managed to get 3 elk. They called, and I went up to help them get the elk out. We were able to get the Sammie to within 1/4 mile from where the elk were. The snow was hub deep or better in places, but no problem. We quartered the elk, hauled them out, and threw them in the Sammie. The idea was to use the Samurai to ferry the elk out to where they could be loaded in another vehicle, but since it carried them so well we just left them in the Sammie, hooked up the tow bar to the Suburban, and came on home.



    Like the TW, Samurais also have character, and can be endearing to their owners. Also like the TW, a Samurai will take you about anywhere you want to go, just not fast.

    Trackers and Sidekicks should not be overlooked, either. Not as capable off road, but it's surprising where they will go. With a larger engine they are better suited to the open road. Their coil spring suspension makes them ride a little better, and they also have more room. If you wanted to be able camp out of it, a 4 door Kick would be the way to go.

    In summary, the Samurai is pretty much just a 4 wheeled TW. The same kind of fun that you can share with your family.
    Last edited by B-dub; 03-15-2014 at 09:07 PM.
    Fred likes this.
    My handle is B-dub, I ride a T-dub, and drive a V-dub.

  7. #6
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Well stated B-dub! The similarities between the Sami and the TW have occurred to me before, no surprise a few of us have wound up with both.

    I honestly didn't realize how capable these little zooks were right out of the box, but your pics certainly speak to that.
    Fred likes this.
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
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  8. #7
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    Only experience I have with mini 4x4s was the one time I holed T-dub's tank out in the desert and ran out of gas. Bunch of drunk non-English-speakers drove by in 2 Samies and laughed when I asked for fuel. Who'd leave a guy in the desert when they could help out? Kind of brought out the grizzly in me. Once night fell I could hear them hooting and hollering not to far away, so after they passed out I snuck over and siphoned out a few gallons for Tdub, then emptied their main tanks into their reserve cans and hid the cans nearby, carefully walking a rocky path that left no trail to the stash. Tdub and I retired to a hilltop along the way out to wait for morning.

    Sure enough, we watched the drunks roll a couple miles, and one sputtered to a stop. While they were trying to figure out what was going on, the other quit. Didn't take them long to figure out, but then the cussing began when they realized their gas cans were no longer on the carriers. Tdub and I rolled off down the far side of our knoll and headed to Colorado to meet up with some buddies. On the way home we raided the stash of spare cans and our entire crew almost topped off--nice to get a couple hundred miles of free fuel for everyone. We carried the empties to the nearest station, which was closed, and left them for others to use. It's not smart to piss off a grizzly.

    Nothing against the Samis, those poor little trucks looked like they'd been beaten to death and still crawled through some serious rock.




  9. #8
    Member Crashking's Avatar
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    I've had a 2008 grizzly 700 for some time, however the gf didn't like how the rear rack would rub her back raw... And I was running out of room for lights and accessories... So I wanted to get a rzr 900 XP... Almost got one but the dealer was trying to screw me over... So months go buy and then Polaris was releasing the ranger 900... We went and drove one and were really liking it except for the cost to get it how we wanted it to be... A friend of ours had a samurai... Another bought one... Then I started looking at making the ranger street legal if we bought one.... Darn near impossible.... So we started looking at Samurais hard core... Went and looked at a couple and most were piles of junk, then found someone on a samurai forum that was getting rid of a decently modified one for cheap.... That's it in the pic at one of our riding spots.... Bought it a year ago... Have broken some things.... Replaced and upgraded... Have maybe 6k into it so far... Has a windshield and wipers.... Could have a/c or heat but this one needs some work... Best of all it can be driven on the street, however I don't have a tag or insurance on it yet to do as such.... I love it... Great on fuel... Parts are cheap... And locally obtainable.... Don't need to overpay at a Powersports dealer..... And there is a huge active following for these things.... Low range off-road is constantly making new parts for them as well... So I don't think they are going to be obsolete any time soon


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  10. #9
    Senior Member DonBenito's Avatar
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    Nice front stinger on that zook Crashking!
    2011 TW200 - Sold - after 9700 miles and 1,000,000 smiles. So long Tee Dub!
    2012 KLR650
    - Sold
    2013 Tiger Explorer XC
    2014 CB500X - RRP L3

  11. #10
    Member Crashking's Avatar
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    Thanks, guy I bought it from was a welder for a living and made it... It's a stout piece!


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