Carb and engine needed rebuild.
Clutch wore out.
Top fell apart.
Seats and door panels needed reupholstering.
Fuel gauge only works below half a tank.
Transmission won't downshift into 2nd or 1st unless stopped.
Engine, transmission, transfer-case, and differentials leak.
Mild shimmy around 50-60 mph.
Loose ground caused the engine to not idle, and the carb to run too rich, which caused the cat to melt.
Cassette player stopped working.
U-joints wore out.
Rear wheel bearings wore out.
Brake drums wore out.
Radiator did not cool enough.
Water choke hose burst.
Most fun to drive automobile on the planet!
I've had stuff go wrong, but it is 23 years old! I consider it to be very reliable in that light.
I've put 16,000 miles on mine in a year, and LOVE it!
The Samurai is our trip-car of choice, and we have a '96 Impala SS and a Miata.
Breezer Safari Top is great when it is not too hot or too cold.
BesTop Duster with top on really helps A/C and heater work, as it cuts the space to heat and cool in half.
A/C still works!
Thorley headers and 2" exhaust really wake the engine up.
Geolandar tires are the best off-road tire in stock size. Work well on-road as well. 20 PSI is the correct pressure or the Samurai will hammer your back. The tires are literally half of the suspension on a Samurai.
It has just enough power for modern roads, but you have to floor it and rap it out to 6k to get to the power it has. You have to downshift to get it moving!
It's a lot more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, and a Samurai is a SLOW automobile.
0-60 in around 20 seconds.
Top speed of around 75 mph with A/C on 85-90 with it off, but hills and/or winds cause that to vary wildly. Will do 45 in second gear going up Tioga pass!
19-25 mpg, depending on speed and A/C usage. I average 22 on a 40 mile round-trip highway commute, but can get 24 if I do 55 or 19 if I do 75 with the A/C on.
Manual steering is heavy when stopped.
Handles fine with the anti-sway bar attached and at stock ride-height. I love driving it on twisty roads!
Brakes work well.
The secrets to driving a Samurai is to be smooth and practice energy management. And rev the snot out of the engine!
Leave it stock and you won't break things. It is amazingly good off-road, bone stock.
Good luck finding one stock!
Seriously, the Samurai is the most fun you can have on 4 wheels, IF, you have the right attitude.