1986 Suzuki Samurai 1.3L Gas
Absolutely positively the most fun per dollar invested possible with four wheels!
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.
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