28,000 Original Miles: 1972 Suzuki LJ10

When I purchased my 1981 Toyota HiAce a few years ago, I may have mentioned the individual I purchased it from maintained about 20 acres of automobiles on his property. The cars and trucks were all in various states of repair, and one that I had to pull myself away from was the rotting carcass of a Suzuki LJ10. This one is a survivor with less than 30,000 original miles and a far better foundation on which to begin; find it here on craigslist for $12,900 in Sacramento and go here if the ad disappears.

The seller claims this LJ10 has completely original paint, which would make it one of the first I’ve seen for sale that hasn’t either had its paint baked off by the desert sun or been repainted several times and mostly crudely. This one wears old-school California blue plates which may indicate years of gentle, restrained use before being retired from the roads altogether. The seller further explains it belonged to the owner of Hawk Strictly Suzuki, a figure who apparently collected 1,000’s of Suzukis and had a soft spot for the LJ10 and Sidekick 4x4s.

A quick web search reveals that Hawk Strictly Suzuki did run a popular business catering to enthusiasts and its doors opened in 1986, likely when Samurais were emerging in popularity. As the seller points out, “….to keep just a few meant they were the creme de la creme.” This LJ10 certainly sports that vibe because in addition to the original paint, the original 360cc two stroke motor is still under the hood, giving it the effect of a motorcycle with four-wheel drive. Photos show the floors in shockingly good condition.

These LJ10s were from the earliest days of Suzuki, and to see one survive in such good condition is astounding. They were known for excellent off-road capabilities (much like the Samurai) despite being small in stature. The seller adds, “We also have the soft top and doors for the LJ but they are currently at the upholster getting new windows put in,” meaning you can indeed drive it in the rain – but with such well-preserved sheetmetal, I sure hope you don’t. Find a nicer one, but see if you can also find pictures of the Hawk Suzuki collection.

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  1. Ching -A-Trailer

    So do they make the typical “wing-ding-ding” two stroke song?

  2. XMA0891

    Maybe the two-strike aside; I do miss what this ‘Zuk represented in today’s US Market: A stripped-down, go-anywhere, 4WD vehicle with a manual transmission. You’re hard-pressed to buy a current-day replacement for this. Jeep doesn’t even (really) make one anymore. Great find!

    • Ching-A-Trailer

      It represents even more – just look at the FREEDOM both we and the auto makers had to put ourselves in danger! The safety and environmental nuts would go absolutely apoplectic upon seeing this. Disclaimer – I fully recognize the benefits of safe and sane automobiles and the importance of fighting climate change – but I’m sure glad I was old enough to experience autodom before these issues became so vital and important!! It will never happen again (well it still exists in Mexico and other places . . . ) And that’s just one of the many reasons I like Mexico!!

    • Danno

      I also desire a stripped down cheap 4×4 like this, new. There probably isn’t enough profit in them to build one, though – at least not specifically for the North American market. There’s almost certainly an Indian or Chinese vehicle that would fill the bill, but certifying it for sale here would be cost-prohibitive.
      I would like to be able to recommend one of the side-by-side offerings from various manufacturers, but even they are not “inexpensive”, IMO. Perhaps there’s a niche for a kit car company to fill?

      • Ching -A-Trailer

        Google “Jago Jeep” and if you want one, look on EBay.Uk where they turn up regularly.

  3. half cab

    Lawd I do mis the old FWD days of the 70’s n 80’s agree with XMA

  4. Doug

    I had one of these back in the early 80’s – The guy I bought it from delivered it
    in the back of a 3/4 ton Chevy pickup with the tailgate removed – the rear axle centerline was one inch forward of the end of the floor in the pickup box.
    It was a lot of fun for playing in the desert hills here in Northern Nevada – as I recall , the diff gears were 6.12 :1 – top speed was about 47mph at redline with a tailwind…. The crank seals on the 360cc 2 stroke finally gave up, and it would no longer run with any power. Suzuki America in SoCal had some of the parts, but the seals were unavailble at the time. I was looking for a Honda
    500 V twin engine ( The one that looks like a baby Moto Guzzi ) to fit in place of the 2 stroke. The Honda was shaft drive with a 5 speed, and the clutch for the 650cc version of the engine would fit, so the plan was to couple the front of the Honda drive shaft to the input shaft of the Suzuki trans, and use the motorcycle clutch. With a 5 speed driving a 4 speed driving a 2 speed transfer case, it would have been interesting, to say the least. Unfortunately, finding that Honda engine was a much more difficult thing before the internet, and after a couple of years, I finally sold the LJ10 to a couple of guys who wanted to make a hunting vehicle out of it. Mine was a Japanese version with right side steering, same color as the one pictured above. The windshield on these would fold flat, and mine had a brace that ran forward from the roll bar to the top of the windshield frame to help stabilize it when in the upright position. The brace was a piece of closet dowel attached to the roll bar by a hose clamp and painted black – sounds hokey, but it did the job !

    • Dwayne

      Doug, if only you could have found a Honda CX650 turbo motor!! That would have been awesome!!

  5. rod444

    I want to buy it so that I can show it to my grand kids and have them giggle and say, “360cc, what? A two stroke, what? Grandpa what have you been smoking?”

  6. Ching-A-Trailer

    Grandpa – you won’t need to smoke anything – just stand behind the car and waft in some of that two-stroke oil exhaust!!


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