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Saved from the Trails: 1987 Suzuki Samurai Special Edition

This may look like a lost cause, but it actually may be a good news story for a special Suzuki Samurai being saved from becoming yet another aggressive off-road build. This is a rare 1987 Samurai Special Edition, send to a smattering of dealerships across Suzuki’s already limited footprint, and featured the special graphics you see here along with a few other odds and ends. The seller claims this one was well on its way to being made into a dedicated trail rig before someone stepped in to prevent its Special Edition history from being permanently erased. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $5,200.

Now, you do have to ask why people do this: when there’s an abundance of a given model available for sale at any given time, why chop up the rare or special edition example? I realize Samurais don’t fall from trees, but there’s enough of them out there that you don’t have to chop a unique model like the Special Edition example up. The seller notes some level of cutting already happened, with the front valence hacked up for a winch and the rear floor cut open to accept a fuel cell. Amazingly, the seller has acquired NOS pieces for both areas, making its repair a (hopefully) straight forward affair. Note the “Special Edition” door graphics – they still look pretty sharp.

The seller notes that the off-road build was going to be fairly involved, as the Samurai’s body had already been placed atop a special chassis. There’s a lot of questions here, but the biggest one to me is how do you convince an owner this far down the path of a highly involved project to stop what they’re doing and return the Samurai to its native chassis. Unless the previous owner ran out of money before the project was done, I’m not sure how to have that conversation. The good news is that in the process of being removed from the factory chassis (which was then presumably discarded), the seller tracked down a mint, rust-free chassis to mount the body onto.

There it is, in its rust-free glory. But as you’ll observe, there’s no drivetrain attached at the moment, and it sounds like there’s not even a stock engine included. I’m guessing the original engine was junk or the owner who was overseeing the major offroad build kept the stock engine or found a way to dispose of it long before this project left his care. The body and chassis are both said to be rust-free, so by taking this project on, you’re skipping the phase where you have to ask yourself if it’s worth going forward. The Suzuki Samurai has been enjoying a steady climb in values, and with so few SE’s left, it made a lot of sense to me to try and save this one from a life of boulder bashing.


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    440 big block Chrysler swap candidate anyone?

    Like 6
  2. Jim

    $5200!?!?!? He’s definitely got the Special Ed part right.

    Like 17
  3. chrlsful

    yeah, sure.
    Its All From The 1st Owner. He just sez these things, had the stuff still there @ shop, rehabbed the orig frame, etc.

    Now, I see a local on the trails here w/2 hard tops that are both epic (SAS on each, bigger Zuk motors, the tires, everything). I say “Good on ya, mate!” and “The smaller the 4WD the better.” (gets in smaller places out back). What’sa bubcha paint or stickers? You can put them on later if needed…

    Like 2
  4. Ed Hardt

    “Special Edition” what exactly makes it special aside from the decals? I like these little guys but c’mon.

    Like 1
  5. SebastianX1/9

    My ex wife had one of these as a teenager in the late 80s and the engine was fantastically reliable. We drove across the U.S. in the little thing. The car itself was a death trap – a death trap with an excellent engine.

    Like 1
  6. t-bone bob

    Item location:
    Reading, Pennsylvania

    Like 0

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