Compact and lightweight off-roading fun, unless you tip over first.
Sorting through Craigslist looking for interesting cars to potentially buy can be a time consuming chore, so we’ll do it for you instead. Welcome to our new weekly series where, as the title suggests, we'll be highlighting some of the most interesting cars, trucks and SUVs up for grabs. Let’s call them hidden treasures that are scattered across America just waiting to be discovered. So let’s kick things off with this show worthy 1986 Suzuki Samurai JX. Also known as the Jimny in other markets, the Samurai was first sold in the US in 1985.
It was a relatively inexpensive small 4x4 that Consumer Reports claimed was prone to rollovers. Suzuki kindly disagreed with that assessment, filing a libel lawsuit for good measure. Both parties agreed to disagree in the end. Anyway, back to the Samurai at hand: this little off-roader is being offered by Suzuki specialist Samurai Salvage, located near Des Moines, Iowa. If you didn’t already know, Suzuki left the North American market entirely back in 2012, so the fact this one is being sold by a specialist is reassuring. Built and customized to enter car shows such as the World of Wheels, this Samurai has a Mighty Mouse theme thanks to some (removable) exterior decals.
The Mighty Mouse headrest stitching looks permanent, unless you feel like swapping out the leather seats for a new pair. Additional upgrades include aluminum wheels wearing BF Goodrich tires, Weber carburetor, stainless steel exhaust header, heavy duty clutch kit, and washer and anti-freeze bottles. Samurai Salvage says the build itself was very expensive, which explains the $25,000 asking price. Under the hood lies a four-cylinder gasoline engine that we assume to be the 1.3-liter with 63 hp used for the American market that’s paired to a manual transmission, sending power either to the rear or all four wheels. There's even a center console ignition.
Despite the Samurai’s compact dimensions and lightweight construction, it still came equipped with a transfer case and switchable 4WD. Because of its body mass, the Samurai is a sprightly little off-roader that was less prone to sinking on soft surfaces, unlike heavier SUVs. Another nice thing about this particular Samurai is its removable top and bed cover. It also comes with an anodized jack handle, lug wrench and hood prop rod. But $25k? As cool as it is, that ain’t cheap for something that's over 30 years old. Then again, this is a true, back-to-basics analog SUV. No power windows. No luxuries. That’s part of its charm. Photos courtesy of Samurai Salvage.