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Winter Warrior: 1988 Suzuki Samurai

1988 Suzuki Samuri

I honestly never thought I would genuinely want a Suzuki Samurai, but driving my RX-8 in the ice and snow this winter has made me really want one of these little off roaders! Growing up in Wyoming, these weren’t uncommon to see on the road, but most people poked fun at them. I’ve never really understood why, the are rugged and capable little rigs. Sure they aren’t a big gas guzzling truck, but when you are fighting ice covered roads, you don’t need a V8 anyways. Sadly, it’s getting harder to find these 4x4s. This one is going to need work after being stored in the barn for the past 5 years. You can find it here on eBay in Tremont, Illinois with an opening bid of $900 and no reserve.

Suzuki Samuri Barn Find

The seller claims his Suzuki was still being used up until 5 years ago. It had some type of electrical short that caused a wire to melt and smoke. It supposedly didn’t catch fire, so hopefully just one wire was damaged and can be found and replaced. As long as nothing was seriously damaged, this could be a fairly easy repair to get this back on the road to get you through the rest of the winter!

Suzuki Samuri

I’m not sure if the top is still around or if a new one will have to be found, but new soft tops are readily available and cheap. The person that listed it doesn’t know much more about this Suzuki, as it’s their brother’s car. They do admit that it needs lots of work on the interior. These are really simple inside, so it will most likely just need new seat covers and a good cleaning. If this were closer to me, I would already be on my way to have a look at it. So would you make this Samurai your winter warrior? Or would you turn it into a mud flinging off roader?


  1. Avatar photo mark

    I bet it sells quickly for that price. Friend of mine had one of these several years ago. He dropped in a VW 4 cylinder diesel and put bigger tires and wheels on it. Ended up selling it for what he had in it after he drove it for a couple of years.

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  2. Avatar photo Glen

    These things were popular at this park I went to a few times in the 80’s, near Tweed, Ontario. Being a privately owned park, the police couldn’t do much unless they were called in by the owner, so it was a long weekend full of partying!, anyway, these Suzukis, could rip through the mud.

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  3. Avatar photo Francisco

    Looks like it has lock-out hubs. Where do you see them anymore? Nice.

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  4. Avatar photo Chris

    A friend in high school had one of these. He got good at knowing when the thing was about to tip. He would drive fast around turns, get it up on two wheels, floor it and drop it back down on all 4 just to hear the inside back wheel chirp. It was very light and dangerous for a high schooler.

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    • Avatar photo skloon

      Ditto although my friend rolled his forwards- the best thing was it was so light three guys could pick up a side and get it back on track- or off track as the case may be

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  5. Avatar photo Fred

    Easily rolled, but that’s what roll bars are for!

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  6. Avatar photo randy

    One of these is on my short list.

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  7. Avatar photo 64 bonneville

    the Dodge Raider is comparable to it. I think Chrysler imported them from Mitsubishi. nice short wheelbase and good torque, great for deer hunting, too.

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  8. Avatar photo jim s

    i wanted a tintop version of this for the winter/snow. right size for the old jeep trails. nice the they had lockout hubs. i think they made some of these as rear wheel drive only. this 4×4 seems like a deal at the current bid of $920. interesting find.

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  9. Avatar photo Ronniecarlo

    I’ve been semi-looking for a Samurai for awhile now. Wish that one was closer. There is s 4-wheel drive trail that winds through a portion of the “Sam Houston” national forest in southern Walker county.”Huntsville, Tx”,Back around 1993 a group of us deciding to go play in the mud. Well long story short..We left a ’90 4×4 Suburban, a ‘8? Toyota 4×4 behind that night and went for help in the only 4×4 that didn’t sink..yep a Samurai! With WHITE WALL TIRES!!!! If it got stuck the group could lift one end and move it out of the rut it was in.Great little 4×4’s..

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  10. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    I know you have to start somewhere, and Suzuki did become very popular, but not with these. The concept was good, but these were really not the best. I had a friend that bought a new one of these, in ’86, I think. Seemed ok at 1st, but after about 5 minutes, it really was a tinny POS. Rode terrible, extremely underpowered, sorely needed a 5 speed, ( which I believe came out later) and very tippy ( consumer reports stated the vehicle was unsafe) My friend drove it about a year, and the engine spun a rod bearing, which Suzuki replaced ( begrudgingly) and about 6 months after that, the 2nd motor puked, and Suzuki claimed they couldn’t find another motor and refused to repair the 2nd one. It had already began to show signs of rust after only 2 winters. She parked it in a field, where I bet it’s still sitting today (minus half the body, I’m sure)

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  11. Avatar photo Peregrine Lance

    I am in the fourth month of ownership of a 1996 SUZUKI SIDEKICK–2wd–which is the spiffiest little job I’ve ever had (and that includes several Jeeps and MG’s)! Yes, that fifth-gear came along, and sure is handy! I paid many thousands (derived from a motorcycle sale), which I may not recoup on the other end, whenever that comes–but it’s as clean, inside and out, under-hood, and with hardtops, as I could want! This car’s antecedents have suffered from much bad press; but my enjoyment on the road is solid.

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  12. Avatar photo Jim

    I’d rather go with a Wrangler.

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