August 17, 2022

When you can’t quite get everything you need from a stock vehicle, you modify it to suit your needs. And when you can’t quite get what you need from a single modified vehicle, you combine. That’s just what happened to three Suzukis that were merged together with a lot of sweat and aftermarket parts to create the Samurai you see here.

We had spotted this Samurai a few years ago on a trail run, but couldn’t chase it down at the time. Fast-forward to recent days, and we stumbled across it again in the local high school parking lot. This time we got hold of the student owner, Austin Jones, to take a closer look at this tin-top Suzuki.

It was a friend of Jones that pulled many of the pieces together to complete this unique Suzuki. Most of the drivetrain was pulled from an ‘87 convertible Samurai and combined with an ‘87 hardtop Samurai body. However, the third Suzuki to participate in this project was a ’93 Sidekick that offered its fuel-injected engine for the increased horsepower needed to turn the larger tires in the plan.

Rolling stock has been changed to 34×12.50R16LT Interco TrXus MT tires wrapped onto 16×10-inch Eagle Classic aluminum wheels. The tail of the Suzuki holds a Trail Tough tube bumper with swing-out tire carrier, though the Samurai was without the extra rolling rubber the day we went out to play in the desert.

Mods were kept reasonably simple, but parts chosen to improve trail performance. A spring-over conversion using salvaged Jeep Wrangler leaf packs put the Samurai at a stance and geometry to fit and flex 34-inch TrXus Mud Terrains. With the Samurai axles geared to 4.56 and 6.5:1 low range transfer-case gears, the final crawl ratio is a stump pulling 108:1, which does well spinning the large Intercos in the dirt.

Besides being modified to tackle trails, the composite Sammy was aesthetically improved as well with tube bumpers front and rear, a custom interior, and a striking custom paintjob. The end result of all this hard work is a tin-top Samurai that not only looks great, but can get its owner out exploring the backcountry with relative ease.

Pop the hood and you’ll find the original 1.3L powerplant has been replaced with a ‘93 Sidekick motor that displaces 1.6L in fuel-injected form. An open element air filter was added to make intake breathing a bit easier. A factory five-speed lives behind the “big-block” Sidekick engine.


Vehicle: 1987 Suzuki Samurai
Owner/Hometown: Austin Jones; Chandler, Arizona
Engine: ‘93 Suzuki Sidekick 1.6L I-4, fuel injected
Transmission: Samurai 5-speed
Transfer case/ratio: Stock Samurai/6.5:1
Front axle: Stock Samurai, welded spiders, 4.56 gears
Rear axle: Stock Samurai, Lock-Right, 4.56 gears, chromoly axleshafts, disc brakes
Suspension: Spring-over conversion, Wrangler leaf springs; Doetsch 3000 shocks
Steering: Trail Tough crossover steering
Tires & Wheels: 34×12.50R16LT Interco TrXus MT, 16×10 Eagle Classic aluminum
Other stuff: Custom front bumper, Trail Tough rear bumper/tire carrier, custom paint and interior, Alpine/Fosgate/Polk stereo system


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