Fuel Injected & AC: 1993 Suzuki Samurai JL

Suzuki’s Samurai found success in global markets as the Jimny, but unfortunately, that was not the case in the United States. Partially due to its cheaper price tag, the Samurai originally outsold its most notable competitor, the Jeep Wrangler. However, after a now heavily debated Consumer Reports claimed the compact off-roader had a propensity for rolling over, the Samurai’s sales never recovered. Suzuki ultimately pulled the Samurai from the U.S. market after 1995, making this 1993 Suzuki Samurai JL that’s available here on eBay a great specimen of this ride that was ahead of its time.

This Suzuki is available in Granite Bay, California with a clean title. The seller purchased the vehicle when it was bone stock from a friend who was a “Samurai fanatic,” and the vehicle was stored indoors.

Even though this Samurai saw some use in off-road terrains, none of it was too harsh: the seller mentions that it reliably traveled on forestry roads and across an occasional creek. Thanks to this, the body remains in good shape, and the vehicle retains its original paint. The exterior has all of the original fender flares and trim, but there are also some modifications, such as a reinforced custom front bumper for safe towing, a six-point roll cage, beefier tires, and suspension from Samurai specialist Trail Tough.

The interior is very basic, but also very tidy, featuring reupholstered front seats that match the door panels.

Under the hood, you’ll find a fuel injected 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, which pairs to a manual transmission to drive all four wheels. The advertisement does not include mileage details, but this example spent a lot of time towed behind an RV, so the odometer may provide an inaccurate representation. The driveline also has some improvements, such as a Doug Thorley header and Trail Tough low range transfer case with a true neutral for towing, but otherwise, everything is stock and works as it should.

At the time of publication, bidding for this Samurai is at $6,900. Would you use this Suzuki for your next off-road excursion?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    These were kind of popular. I think Americans liked the idea of a gas sipping 4wd. I’ve seen several out here, not sure if they have the original motor, which was a poor unit. I have a friend that bought one I just remember how cheap and tinny it was, and 55 mph felt like the world was coming apart. In the 3 years she drove it, it went through 2 motors, which Suzuki replaced, but when the 3rd motor puked, they refused to repair it. By then, it had already begun to rust, and she parked it in a field, where I bet it sits to this day, what’s left of it. I think this was winner in the “rollover” contest, just a poor vehicle all around, sorry.

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  2. Jim in FL

    At my Dad’s dealership they took a Suzuki franchise. So, the importer would ship the Samurais with a cardboard top. The roof was a dealer installed option, as was AC. You could buy one with a hard top, soft top, or none. Dad was always trying to get me to buy one. He asked why I would pay 2 Grand for a ratty used C.J. with no air when I could get a new one of these for 3k. He was right, but with a caveat. I enjoyed driving the couple that I tested, but they were just really small, and back then aftermarket support was zero. There were catalogs and Jeep parts readily available. Not so for the Suzuki. Then the expose about rollover hit TV and sales took a dive.

    They were fun, basic 4x4s. I wish more had survived. I’ve thought about looking around for one, but stock or close to stock ones are a rarity. This will be a fun ride for someone.

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  3. jerry z

    My brother bought a Samurai new in 1987. I rode in it once. This thing scared the hell out of me! Talk about a tin can! He owned maybe 6 months and I think he sold after the CR came out.

    1
  4. Kenneth Carney

    Not only were they a rollover hazard, but they weren’t that secure either. My I kid sister bought one in ’87 as her first new
    car. Not long after she got it, someone
    slit the top and stole her purse AND the
    stereo system! So much for the state of
    the art alarm system my folks paid good
    money for to protect it. She sold it not long after the insurance company paid for
    the repairs. Dad finally talked some sense into her about the rollover issue these things had back then. He wound
    up putting her in a Toyota instead. Yeah,
    they were cute, and maybe things might’ve been different if Suzuki had a
    modern stability system built into them,
    but it is what it was. And it was very very
    dangerous.

  5. Kenneth Carney

    Not only were they a rollover hazard, but they weren’t that secure either. My kid sister bought one in ’87 as her first new
    car. Not long after she got it, someone
    slit the top and stole her purse AND the
    stereo system! So much for the state of
    the art alarm system my folks paid good
    money for to protect it. She sold it not long after the insurance company paid for
    the repairs. Dad finally talked some sense into her about the rollover issue these things had back then. He wound
    up putting her in a Toyota instead. Yeah,
    they were cute, and maybe things might’ve been different if Suzuki had a
    modern stability system built into them,
    but it is what it was. And it was very very
    dangerous.

  6. chrlsful

    yes, they flipped. The inferent narrow wheel base (not gunna change THAT dude) will cause that w/a sudden change in drection (like avoidin an accident). So sue.
    Howerver, as an off rd slow moving vehicle that duz not happen and many use them for such. Gen I, the jimmy/jimney is still loved by the same off rd crowd. And for me? the smaller the vehicle (off rd) the better (mine’s the ’66/77 bronk). Almost as much aftr mrkt support as a jeep too. I say ‘go fer it” (if an adult). Not for my kid, just like the 3 wheeler (not even 4 an adult less ur the only 1 ridin it, DoNot lend).

    2
  7. prsncat

    The CR rollover claims make anyone that owns one laugh… Do you really believe it was not staged? If you owned and drove one like me, then you would know CR rigged the test to make it rollover.

    I bought my 1986 tin top on Bring-a-trailer last year.

    I have installed an Old Man Emu suspension to improve the on-road ride and it has worked wonders. I have not had a chance to test it off-road due to the pandemic.

    My tin top runs and drives fantastic. Plus, it is comfortable to drive long distances with the new suspension. No, it is not the fastest vehicle on the freeway. Yet, I can keep up with SoCal freeway traffic without a problem and enjoy the simplicity of my tin top.

    What truly surprises me is the attention it garners. It rarely fails to generate a thumbs up, parking lot conversation or an offer to buy if I was willing to sell.

    I encourage anyone interested in the Samurai featured in this article to make up their own minds. They are terrific off-road and can be comfortable – for a 30+ years old 4×4 – if that is what you are looking for. If you are thinking about venturing off-road, then the Samurai is a great vehicle for beginners to get their start with. And, it can be outfitted for the more advanced off-road adventure too. Although there might not have been a good aftermarket when new, they have very good support today.

    Thank you, Kevin, for a well written write-up on this Samurai. And, I hope the new owner appreciates their Samurai just as much as I do.

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