Stored For 30 Years: 1972 Suzuki Jimny LJ10

I don’t know why it is that tall people like small vehicles and short people like big vehicles? Is that some sort of Freudian thing? Inquiring minds want to know. In any case, it’s fairly well known that I love small vehicles, small 4×4 vehicles even more so, and when they come with a manual shifter it’s a regular love affair. This 1972 Suzuki Jimny LJ10 is on eBay in Florence, Oregon with an unmet opening bid of $3,000.

Surface rust is king on this micro-4×4 but we’ve seen worse. They call it patina these days and it’s all the rage. Well, maybe not when it’s on a 46-year old Suzuki 4×4, it’s just surface rust here. You’re not going to “clear coat that baby and let’r rip, tater chip”. No, it’s rust that will have to be taken care of before it gets any worse than it is. The Light Jeep 10, or LJ10, came out in 1970 – two years after Suzuki acquired an existing company that made small 4x4s.

Their objective was to make a small 4×4 that could go places that bigger 4x4s couldn’t get to. These things are, dare I say, cute? They’re not cute when you’re clogging up the left lane on the freeway with one, though. Don’t do that. I’m not sure if I like the white wall tires and pitted chrome wheels. In fact, I don’t like them at all. Luckily, they look like they’re bad anyway so they’ll need to be changed. And, painted wheels, please, not chrome. This l’il rig only has 5,775 miles on it, having been “stored inside for 30 plus years”, according to the seller.

I have a sickness with these little vehicles. I want to take them all apart and restore everything to being like new, and it looks like everything will have to be taken apart on this one. The interior will need pretty much everything, I can’t imagine that any of the materials are salvageable. Of course, a person could just get everything working great and use it around their property or around town. I always like little vehicles to be restored little gems, that’s just me. It has a manual transmission, of course, and even a high-low range transfer case.

Here’s why you would clog up the left lane: this two-stroke, air-cooled, 359 cc two-cylinder has just, gulp, 25 hp. The 47-mph top speed is better suited to non-highway use even though technically it’s legal even for freeway use in most states. The seller says that it’s “Currently non-running, I have not even tried starting. Brakes are locked up from sitting so long also.” Hopefully, it isn’t a lost cause, someone please save this l’il Jimny!

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  1. KawiVulc

    That engine shot looks like somebody opened the hood & tossed in a bucket full of crap they found laying around behind an old, long-closed, one man garage.

    Weird little critter. Probably even smaller than it looks in the pics…

    Like 3
  2. Shaggin Wagon

    Neat rig, I live in Oregon, and for the most part, cars rust slowly here. But, watch out for the ones at the coast. Florence is on the ocean. I drove out to take a look at a pickup used by the fire department north of where this Suzuki is. It was less than 10 years old, low miles, and I figured perfect maintenance? On the phone they told me there was no rust. When I got there I about stuck my finger through several spots on the body, and parts of the frame were just flaking off. Irritated at wasting an hour driving, I said “You told me there was no rust?” He replied deadpan, “Son, around here that is no rust!” Ha ha, it’s all relative I guess?

    Like 3
  3. jw454

    I am usually in the camp that promotes keeping it all original. If you’re just buying one of these to ride around your expansive property original would be fine. However, if you wanted to take this to local shows around your area and, you’re not the trailer queen type, I’d suggest re-powering it with some other type of motor that would get you up to at least 60 to 65 M.P.H.

    Like 1
    • Wild Turkey

      JW454 . Not so much lack of engine but the gearing is really short.

  4. SMS

    Even with a larger motor these are not fun on the highway. They are great for going slow and going anywhere. Was out with a buddy in his and the front got stuck in the sand. The two of us were able to lift it out. It is so narrow you can take it on goat trails, just keep narrow tires on it if you want to be able to use it like intended.

    When new the interior didn’t look much better.

    Like 3
  5. Jimmy

    A 4 wheel drive go cart with a body on it. Maybe someday when my kids force me in to a senior living community and I want to go visit a friend who lives 3 houses away.

    Like 1
  6. Howard A Member

    “Jimny Jillickers”, no wonder it’s not rusted, it was never used.. Be a fun little unit for back trails, and such. With 25 hp., may want to pick your trails carefully. Getting TO the trails, however, may be an issue.

    Like 1
  7. packrat

    In the 1972 V8 world of Barracudas, Mustangs, Camaros, this was frighteningly underweight and underpowered, even compared to most import economy offerings. You can see someone shrugging, and leaving it in the garage after five thousand miles or so. It’s a wonder it didn’t get painted up by Shriners to run in the hometown Christmas parade once a year.

    Like 2
  8. SebastianX1/9

    My ex had an 80-something Suzuki Samuri, the one that tipped-over easily, which we drove across the whole east coast, and which survived and prospered through 5 very cold Chicago winters, parked right off the lake, always started and ran even as body parts fell off.

    I can’t vouch for the Samuri’s off-road performance, but the engine really was fantastic and reliable. The one for sale here is a bridge too far for me though.

  9. Bob C.

    Didn’t even know Suzuki made anything besides Motorcycles back then.

  10. Mark Mitchell Member

    I had one of these that was used at a small airport and kept in a hanger when not in use. Super low miles, and basically a new car. I loved the condition and looks, but the performance was certainly lacking. It was so slow that it was basically useless for my needs. Even around town it was not much fun to drive with big SUVs always on your tail. Sold it and moved on…

  11. Will Owen Member

    There was an elderly farm couple in Murfreesboro, TN, who in retirement had taken up art. The art supply store was Griffin’s, in Nashville. Their sole form of transport was one of these – actually a later 450cc (I think) version that, with typical Japanese whimsy, was called a “Brute”. About once a week (for two or three years that I knew of) they would travel the 40 or so miles on Murfreesboro Pike to Griffin’s for supplies, and then home again.

    Adding to the fun, they were both very large people. Watching them load their supplies and then themselves into that poor little thing was a kind of marvel; just getting the doors closed was an obvious challenge.

  12. Doug

    I once owned one of these – and right hand drive, too. At 45 mph, the engine sounded like a pissed off rototiller. With the advent of the internet, engine parts MIGHT be a bit easier to find, but in the mid-80s the crankshaft seals were made of unobtanium – US Suzuki had none. These little 2 strokes needed to be run once in a while or the seals would degrade, and they would no longer run. To get an idea of how tiny these are, if you remove the tailgate of a 75 Chevy 3/4 ton pickup with an 8 foot bed, you can load one of these puppies into it. The rear axle will be about an inch forward of the end of the bed – maybe a tad further forward if no tow bar is fitted to the front bumper.
    Of course, this was all long before the ATV / UTV craze hit. Many of those are
    now actually bigger than the Suzuki !

    I briefly considered trying to use a Honda 500 twin engine from the “Baby Moto Guzzi” since it was shaft drive and small enough to fit in the tiny engine compartment, but I was unable to locate a used engine or a wreck that had a usable engine. I finally sold the little beast to a couple of guys who were looking for a rig to take hunting in places where their CJ 5 was too wide to go.
    Their idea was to install a snowmobile engine – I don’t know if they ever got it running or not.

    Like 1
    • Will Owen Member

      Snowmobile engine wd work better. Biggest problem w/ most bike engines is they tend to be wet-sump but with no baffles in the crankcase, because bikes always bank around corners … but in four-wheeler applications the oil can slosh away from the pickup in a corner. So you either have to use a dry-sump engine with a separate oil tank or put some baffles into the crankcase. OR just use another two-stroker, or an engine from a three-or four-wheeler.

    • SMS

      “Pissed off rototiller” that is hilarious and so true. Yes they are small. Short, narrow and tall.Looked it up and they weigh 1,300 lbs. There is some support for these and parts are available. You do have to work for them though. Putting a small motor that you can get parts for might not be a bad idea.

      We used it for reaching mines for highgrading in New Mexico. Towed it as close as a normal truck could go and then took off in the Jimny. Still remember how impressed I was with the angles that little pissed off rototiller could go.

      Like 1
  13. chad

    many ppl rave abt the dependability & the ease this 1 has in climbing steep gradients.
    I agree w/Scott – the smaller the 4WD the better.

    Each vehicle is designed for a specific application,
    this 1 has it’s own, not a DD for most Americans.

    Like 1
  14. B-o-b

    I had a 1970 model, RHD with factory-optioned wide wheels & tires. I actually got cited for “visible emissions”, went to court and explained how a 2-stroke engine works. Citation dropped.

    Like 1

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