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Rare Imported SUV: 1972 Suzuki LJ20V

The LJ20 was a small, Jeep-like Japanese vehicle that was seldom seen in the U.S. It came about as the result of an acquisition made by Suzuki in 1970. This 1972 edition appears to be a low-mileage survivor that runs off a 2-cylinder, 2-stroke engine. It performs (but how well?) and looks like it could be a fun little runabout. Located in Bland, Missouri, this tiny transport is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $6,500. Thanks for the tip, Scott.

Japanese automaker Hope Motor Co. built a small off-road vehicle they called the Hopestar ON360. It became part of the Suzuki portfolio after the company was sold. It was the first 4-wheel-drive people mover to be offered by Suzuki, at first with an air-cooled 359-cc 2-stroke motor. A water-cooled version materialized in 1972, the LV20, which is what the seller is offering. Though it was equipped with a left-hand drive, Suzuki never exported them to the U.S., leaving that job to International Equipment Co. which brought them ashore in small quantities.

On its home turf, the LV20 qualified as a KEI, aka a really tiny car. While most of the exported versions had the spare tire mounted outside in the back, a few (like this one) had the spare positioned behind the passenger seat, with two small rear seats facing each other. The history of the seller’s LJ20V (we’re not sure what the “V” stands for) isn’t explained nor how it may have accumulated just 2,000 miles in 50 years. It seems to be in fine order overall and runs and drives, though we wonder how difficult parts may be to find for a vehicle that was never officially imported by its parent company.


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    These were sold here as the Suzuki Brute.

    Like 3
  2. Howard A (retired) Member

    “Bland” Missourah? I thought Wisconsin had silly names. As rare as they are, there is actually one at an outside storage facility near me, with a host of other neat cars, but the guy looks a bit shady. I couldn’t imagine any 4×4 more anemic than my 4 cylinder Jeep, but here you are. I’ll tell you why it has low miles, provided the thing runs, 30 mph was not what the buyer imagined, I’m sure. LS swap?

    Like 7
    • Frog Man

      HF predator swap!

      Like 0
  3. Sam61

    Samurai’s grandfather. Looks like fun. Curious if it’s body on frame or unibody, based on the boxed structure under the hood. My son has a 1990 Samurai. He got for free, up and running for $300… it’s a hoot and attracts comments. Locally, there is a late 90’s JDM rhd 3 cylinder turbo diesel tin-top samurai for sale.

    Like 4
  4. don lafaver

    I was a manager at a Ford Dealership near Denver when the owners bought 5 of these just to test the waters. A couple here hardtops such as this one with the water cooled engine. The other 3 were soft tops with the air cooled version. Sales were not only slow but non existent. We finally held a raffle and gave one away but the winner want to know if he could take cash instead! we final sold the balance about a year or so in the making. I can attest that 3-35 mph was flat out but if you could back your full size pickup up to a curb and drop the tail gate you could drive this think up in the bed!

    Like 6
  5. Yblocker

    It should’ve been called, “Hopeless” Motor Company. $6500? There’s no hope.

    Like 3
  6. Sam61

    Killing more brain cells over something that won’t happen… I wonder if you could do a motorcycle engine swap and just have rear wheel drive or a more modern Samurai engine? Price would need to be half.

    Like 1
  7. Howie

    These are very small, 2cyl.,2stroke. Good luck at that price.

    Like 2
  8. Matt Saunders

    Too much for what’s there but it would make a good candidate to swap in a small diesel engine & use it as a side by side out on the ranch.

    Like 1
  9. Scott

    Go to Matt’s Off Road Recovery on utube and look up the Golden Nugget. They drug one out of the mountains in I think Colorado and rebuilt it. It was a wreck. But they built a cool little unit out of what it was. Yes, a motor swap was made.

    Like 4
    • Brian

      California. That thing was a wreck, but they sure turned it into a beauty.

      Like 3
  10. Mk

    Tried to buy one of these years ago, basket Case, good luck on finding parts!

    Like 0
  11. Claudio

    In my mid 20’s i bought a slightly used samurai tin top
    It was as fast as a turtle but i could park it anywhere in montreal on snowy days
    It handled like a carriage cause it had the same suspension
    I bought a better suited vehicle and kept it for off roading and trails , it fit in with the atv’s
    Would i want another one ? No
    Would i want this one ? Hell no
    But i am considering a sidekick/tracker for summer fun with the grand kids

    Like 0
  12. Kenneth Fox

    Bought one new in flint mi good little toad behind my truck n camper drove it to work part time alot of traffic behind me not much in front of me they all signald I was number1 when they passed me, 40 mph 45 down hill tail wind only paid 2500$

    Like 1

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