1986 Suzuki Samurai

Here’s a great story of an awesome vehicle felled by bad press, or at least terribly hurt by it. This is the story of the 1986 Suzuki Samurai. Back in the 1980s, if you wanted a true, affordable off-roader, you didn’t get a Jeep: the Samurai was the vehicle to have. It was available in a wide variety of configurations, with both long and short wheelbase, and very easy to modify; it adapted to every situation, from city driving – it was a little rough, but still – to real off-road action. It was also quite affordable, convertible of course, and most of all, incredibly reliable. Unfortunately, some reports came out in 1988 that the Samurai was quite prone to rollovers; this was later discredited, but it destroyed their sales.

1986 Suzuki Samurai
1986 Suzuki Samurai

A speed machine the Suzuki Samurai was not, that much is clear, and with a top speed of a meager 81 miles per hour, it wasn’t going to win any races, except perhaps if they required climbing the side of a mountain, crossing rivers and generally getting extremely dirty. The Samurai, in its US versions, was available with a choice of two engines, a one-liter straight four or a torquier 1.3-liter four cylinder engine. They weren’t very powerful, but they certainly did the job as required.

Loved by everyone, the Suzuki Samurai was a simple to operate, reliable off-road 4WD vehicle that performed well enough on-road to be appreciated and earn its keep. It remained in production until 1995 in the US, but much longer in the rest of the world.

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