Junkyard Find: 1988 Suzuki Samurai


Because of all the rebadged Daewoos sold in North America via the Suzuki brand during the 2000s (as well as actual Suzukis), you'll find no shortage of cars bearing the big S logo in most car graveyards these days. But what about the first highway-legal four-wheeled Suzuki sold on our shores, the Jimny?

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One Less Market for the Internet's Favorite Vehicle?

You’re right — there’s no way we can determine with any certainty what the internet’s actual favorite ride is, but the amount of lust poured out over the unattainable Suzuki Jimny is noteworthy. People love this little Japanese box, even if its short wheelbase and solid axles add up to a ride most wouldn’t want to live with on a daily basis.

Not available to North American consumers, it looks like the wee Jimny will soon bow out of another significant market. Blame the environment.

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Can't Afford a Mercedes-AMG G63? Convert a New Suzuki Jimny Into One Instead

A brand new Mercedes-AMG G63 isn’t what we’d call cheap, if you can even get one. The luxury off-road monster can literally go anywhere in a style uniquely its own, but it’s big, pricey and not the most fuel efficient. So what if you want a G63 but want to get it on the cheap? You build your own out of a Suzuki Jimny.

The Jimny is the darling of forbidden fruit. It’s the opposite of the Mercedes. It’s inexpensive, frugal and small. It’s off-road prowess comes from determination and grit instead of horsepower and torque. But it is boxy like the G-Wagon. So that counts for something.

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Open Letter to Suzuki - A Road Map to Bring the Jimny to America

(The following is an open letter from contributor Seth Parks, who, like many of us, holds a special fondness for the rugged little Suzuki Jimny – a vehicle available almost everywhere … except North America. We’ve added photos for your viewing pleasure.)

Dear Mr. Takuya Sato,

As EVP of Suzuki Motor of America, you are responsible for driving revenue and profitability growth. One arrow in your quiver of growth strategies is undoubtedly new products. And you are certainly aware of one of the newest and most exciting products in the Suzuki portfolio, the all new fourth-generation Jimny. Like many others, I suggest you bring the Jimny to America (most Americans know it as the Samurai).

However, unlike many others, I understand the challenges and am writing to offer a solution, albeit one based on a grossly oversimplified analysis.

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Apocalypse With a Plug: Suzuki E-Survivor Unveiled in Tokyo

While in the midst of developing the next Jimny, a model you might remember better as the Samurai, Suzuki also made an effort to set up a secondary compact off-roader at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Less grounded than the fourth-generation Jimny, the e-Survivor concept looks like a mashup between Jeep’s Wrangler and the lunar rover NASA took to the moon.

The name suggests something serious but the design speaks directly to weekend rock crawlers and fun-loving dune buggy enthusiasts. It certainly looks capable of both activities. The open-topped two-seater uses a lightweight ladder frame, all-wheel drive, and has enough ground clearance to be a scrappy little off-roader. However, as an electric, its value as a legitimate “survival vehicle” is dubious — unless you’re willing to swap gas canisters for solar panels in your post-apocalyptic scenario.

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  • 3SpeedAutomatic "...to make room for reality TV reruns..."What an insult!! Shows how far broadcast TV will stoop for a few extra bucks.I much appreciate Jay for keeping the "motor head" world alive in a Zoom society. However, maybe it's time for him to retire or semi-retire. There's enough material for him to do YouTube with most auto related companies willing to underwrite....but the number of shows would be at his own pace.I wish him well!!
  • Gregtwelve I had an '88 Turbo Coupe with 5 spd bought used and really liked it. I loved the looks, it had decent power for the time and a nice interior. Unfortunately the head gasket went at around 60K miles. I repaired it myself and sold it.
  • Mattwc1 I bought a Maverick specifically because I wanted utility and great fuel economy. My wife has a RAV4 hybrid that we really like. I think Toyota would print money with a smaller RAV4 based truck.
  • Varezhka Dunno. Looking at Maverick and Santa Cruz, having the engine in the front of the driver and a crew cab layout will mean the rear bed will be about the same size as kei trucks. And it will still be more than 16ft long. I'd rather get a Tacoma and/or a Hilux at that point.If we actually want a small truck with usable bed, it will have to be cab over layout with standard cab like Toyota TownAce Truck. We already know how popular that would be, even without getting into federal safety requirements.
  • SCE to AUX "Its militaristic, drab fortress presence, is some sort of reflection of the times."Very insightful comment in your excellent summary. The Cybertruck vs Hummer EV comparison tests will be enjoyable, sure to enflame their fans.