Weekly Treasure: 1989 Suzuki Jimny Turbo 4x4

Car Culture / Comments

Barebones JDM off-roading goodness.

The Suzuki Jimny is an icon that's been forbidden fruit in America for several years now. The latest generation Jimny, which debuted not long ago, is on sale in overseas markets, though very soon it won't be in Europe. Why? The Jimny doesn't meet new fuel-emissions requirements. Will Suzuki fix this by offering a new and more efficient engine? Who knows, but since the brand hasn't been sold in America for nearly a decade it doesn't really matter to us. In any case, there are still plenty of used Jimnys for sale capable of basic off-roading at a reasonable price.

The Suzuki Jimny, however, is not for everyone. In Japan, it's officially classified as a Kei car, meaning "light automobile" and dates back to 1968. That's when Suzuki purchased another small Japanese car company called Hope Motor Company and with it, its newly introduced small off-roader. It was soon renamed Jimny and improvements began almost immediately.

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The first generation had an 11-year lifespan, from 1970 until 1981. Back then, the Jimny really didn't look all that different from the generation that just left production. And despite its small overall dimensions, one can't help but notice a direct design link back to the original Willys Jeep. The second-generation Jimny arrived in 1981 and lasted until 1998. Although it was an improvement over its immediate predecessor, it was still quite spartan. Power came from a variety of small and not terribly powerful engines but given that the Jimny was already fairly lightweight, the power to weight ratio wasn't too terrible.

These Jimny's were imported to the US and in 1985 the SJ-Series Jimny arrived, called the Samurai. It was an immediate smash hit with the American 4x4 community thanks to its compact dimensions and lightweight body which made it very nimble off-road. It was also a true 4WD vehicle with a transfer case.

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There are still many old Samurais still out there, but if you're looking for a truly unique Jimny and aren't interested in the soft top Samurai, this model fits the bill. This 1989 Suzuki Jimny Turbo 4x4 is currently up for sale on Bring A Trailer with a current bid of $1,200. Expect this to increase given there are a few days left until the auction ends.

Power comes from a turbocharged inline-three cylinder connected to a five-speed manual transmission. It also has a two-speed transfer case. Oh, and it's also right-hand drive. It was imported from Japan only last year.

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Overall, it's in great condition and features some nice styling elements such as an exterior finished in two-tone blue paint and a gray cloth interior. There's even a wood-trimmed steering wheel and air conditioning. A hood scoop and pop-out rear side windows give it even more character. Its actual mileage remains unknown but the seller claims everything, including the engine and gearbox, function well.

While some are clamoring for back-to-basics SUV like the upcoming reborn Ford Bronco or Jeep Wrangler, this lovely and quirky old school Jimny is the very definition of simplicity. It also has buckets of character and character goes a long way.

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