1986 Suzuki Samurai Reviews from North America

1986 Suzuki Samurai JX 1.3L gas engine

Model year1986
Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 1.3L gas engine Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.0 / 10
Distance when acquired131000 miles
Most recent distance132124 miles
Previous carFord Ranger

Summary:

Tough

Faults:

Speedometer cable went out at 131,040 miles.

Clutch cable went out at 131,050 miles.

Transmission shifter bolt and bushing went out at roughly 131,050.

Right rear wheel bearing is on its way out.

Replaced the soft top with a new one.

Cracked windshield.

Body rust.

General Comments:

I would have to say this is one of the best vehicles I have owned, although it is not the most comfortable ride in the world. I don't really drive it in town that much, so for me it's not an issue. It has never failed me (other than running out of gas once). I will admit these vehicles are a bit bouncy on dirt roads, but nothing really bad.

I bought my Samurai on the 4th of July 2009 for the sum of $450, needing some work, but it ran and drove well. To be honest, it still is a work in progress, but still fires right up with a couple of pumps of the throttle and a turn of the key.

This car will always have a home with me, and will never be sold off. Probably not the best vehicle for daily driving on the interstate, but could be used for such use if you wanted. At any rate, I would definitely suggest a Samurai to anyone wanting something cheaper than a Jeep, or if just want something different than the normal Jeep's, Toyota's etc...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th November, 2012

1986 Suzuki Samurai 1.3L Gas

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership1991
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 1.3L Gas Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.7 / 10
Distance when acquired65000 miles
Most recent distance250000 miles
Previous carChrysler LeBaron

Summary:

Absolutely positively the most fun per dollar invested possible with four wheels!

Faults:

Replaced engine at 105K miles, rebuilt that at 180K miles.

Had transmission bearings replaced at 150,000.

Rebuilt transfer case with lower gear ratios, and replaced the bearings.

Replaced kingpin bearings at around 150,000. (Did the same on my son's Samurai at about the same mileage.)

Replaced U-joints numerous times.

Replaced front and rear wheel bearings around 180,000.

Replaced stock worn out seats with seats from a Korean import (Excel)

Replaced front springs with DJ (Post Office Jeep) front springs until they broke, reverted to stock Samurai springs.

General Comments:

Almost everything has worn out at one time or another, but with 250,000 miles that is to be expected. The GOOD news is this is VERY easy to work on and if you are mechanically inclined you can probably do just about all of it yourself in your driveway.

I love this car so much when my son was ready to buy a car he got one too. I paid ~$3200 for mine, my son got his for ~$2000 around 1993. Then I got a parts car ($400) that we decided was too good to strip, so got that running (and I gave it to a friend when my wife decided we had too many Samurais around.) I have another parts car Samurai ($250, bought for the transmission) which I am going to convert to an off-road trailer.

I have many modifications, such as 4:1 gear reduction in transfer case; Geo Tracker 4.62:1 differentials (instead of stock Samurai 3.73:1 diffs) ; a locker; hinged shackles for better axle flex offroad; folddown windshield; removable doors; trunk lid made from another Samurai's hood; Homemade cab made by welding another Samurai's windshield to the back of the stock tonneau bar; and on and on.

Modifications have made this awesome for offroad rock crawling around Death Valley, the Mojave desert, and central Nevada.

It's slow on the highway, but what other car can you drive flat out like a racecar, going up to >5000 RPM on every shift, only use the clutch to start up in 1st gear, keep the gaspedal floored the vast majority of the time, and yet not be speeding or gathering tickets.

My other car is a 1995 Lincoln Town Car, just about as opposite to this as you could imagine. But unless I'm taking a multiple hundred mile trip without offroading planned, I am just as likely to grab the Samurai keys as the Town Car keys when I head out the door. (Oddly enough, both end up giving me about 20MPG consistently.)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th May, 2003

Average review marks: 7.3 / 10, based on 5 reviews