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Old 02-05-2010, 12:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New To Suzuki Samurais - Have Questions

Hi All,

My Dad and I just bought a 1987 Suzuki Samurai convertible but I have not seen it yet because he lives about 350 miles away and bought it near where he lives. Just from what I have seen in pictures and what he is telling me I have some questions. First, he says it has no shocks and so seems to be under the impression that Samurais made in that year were built with no shocks, just leaf springs. I find this hard to believe, so I am wondering if someone just removed them or what.

The second thing is the top. Right now it has, per my Dad, a fiberglass top over the cab, and a metal barrier right behind the seats. The back is open, like a little pickup. I have attached some pitures. It has no back seat and appears, again from pictures, that the mounting hardware for a soft top has been taken off. What hardware is needed for mounting a soft top?

Thanks in advance,
Terri
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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they all had shocks.
it looks like that little partition wall was made custom. I never heard of any company making a little wall like that, except out of rag top material that strapped to the bars.
you are going to need the rear bow... are the snaps still along the outside rear of the body?

thanks,
george
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks George,

I will tell my Dad about the shocks. I don't know if any of the snaps are there - I am assuming that we will have to put new ones on no matter what. Do you know of a place to get the hardware?

Thanks,
Terri
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I guess you could try some salvage yards, but they may not be in good shape. There are spots that rust out. New is always best but used, if in good shape is cheaper. Around here they used to give them away. I'm sure someone else on the list will have a source for the bow. The snaps... I just grabed some at Harbor Freight or the hardware store. Even a fabric store has snaps I guess. I replaced my zippers and snaps a long time ago. The ones on the tailgate are a little different. One trick I learned was to put a strip of foam insulation on the body or on the top _between_ the snaps. A lot of air comes in between them. Also under the flap that wraps around the top of the door seal. (you'll see what I mean.) After market full tops are really good. IMHO
I think my last one was a Besttop. I've had it for about 10 years.
Decide on what lift if any you are going to put on it and don't get cheap shocks. I always wanted the adjust about ones but never had the $ or time to figure out what ones would fit my lift and setup. If the guy told your dad they didn't come with shocks in that year, don't trust anything he said. check everything before you drive in. (don't think about driving it the 350 miles home!) Harbor Fright has cheap tow bar setups that fit these things nice for about $50. Add in the safety chains and you are around $75. Yank the drive shafts out first before towing. Towing on a trailer would be best. You don't know if the axles have oil in them... (check both front and rear)

So much to learn...

Good luck. These little things are great.You can make them into almost anything you want. I bought mine new in '87. Best thing I ever bought.

thanks,
george
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the info George. I really appreciate it.

I don't think the guy said anything to my Dad about the shocks - my Dad just saw that there weren't any and assumed that was how it was supposed to be. He has it at the shop right now getting a tow bar put on it so he can bring it to where I live. It's flat where he lives but great offroading where I live!

I will look for a new bow and thanks for the tip about the foam between the snaps!

Terri
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Since you already have a half-top, and unless you need to have a rear seat, I wouldn't worry about getting a full top. Are you familiar with what is called a bikini top, windjammer and duster? You could use these during the warm months and then put you hardtop pieces back on during the cooler ones. Here is a link to some photos of what I did with my top. Album link. It might give you some ideas if you decide to not get a full top.

I replaced the original shocks on my '91 Samurai last year and all four were completely shot and offered absolutely no resistance. With no sway bar, there was not any excessive bounce, but it did wander all over the road. Anything over 45mph was a little scary at times. I now have new Monroe shocks and steering stabilizer, and re-installed the sway bar. What an improvement - now no problems doing 70mph, just really steady and something I never expected it to be when I bought it.

First things to do:

1. Locate Ack's FAQ for a good source of Samurai info.

2. Change all the fluids. Make sure your transmission fluid is rated GL4. Most on the market are GL5 and it is very bad for the brass transmission synchronizers. Pennzoil Synchromesh 3501 is relatively inexpensive and will work.

3. Wiring is another problem that should be tackled early on. You have 20-something old wiring and it needs a little rejuvenation. Grounds are a common problem and should always be considered when electrical problems are encountered. If the battery cables don't look to be in good shape, replace them. Also run a #4 or #6 cable from where the battery cable attaches to the engine block to your firewall. This will insure that you have a good solid body ground. You can search for "samurai clicky starter fix", "samurai headlight relay" if you have problem with the starter not always engaging or if your headlights are not very bright.

4. Only use NGK spark plugs. Especially on old carb engines, make sure that all the vacuum hoses are in good shape and connected correctly. Oil leaks from around the distributor are caused by bad o-rings.

5. Buy a can of Seafoam and follow the directions on the can.

6. Adjust the valve lash! Samurai's have solid lifters and people forget that they need to be adjusted periodically.

7. And welcome to the madness.

8. And where are you located? Might be others in the area that can be of help to you.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Haptown,

Thanks for all the info - that is the kind of stuff I need!

About the top/back panel - I guess the back panel keeps the seat from going all the way back, which is a problem for my Dad. Also, the vehicle will be used strictly for offroading and I am sure that once people in my family know how much fun it is multiple people at a time will want to go. The first time I ever went was in early January with my uncle in Arizona and I was hooked!

Right now it is at the welder's waiting to have a tow bar put on the front - the welder is a friend of my Dad's so it's just kind of waiting until he has time to do it. Next it will go to the mechanic, who is also a friend of my Dad's. The biggetst issue right now with it is when my Dad drove it home about 70 miles after buying it it would only go about 50 mph. It's a 1987 and I know it's not going to be a speed demon but I think it should be able to go a little faster! Does anyone have any ideas/experience with this and some good things to try?

Thanks
Terri
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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is it a 1 or a 1.3L engine?... i know most 1.3's, mine included, struggle to sit on or above 100kmh (~60mph). it can do it, just not all the time. i imagine the 1L engines would struggle even moreso. quickest way to tell the engine size is if its a 4 speed its a 1L or a 5 speed is a 1.3...
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Whincup,

I think it's a 5 speed. It doesn't NEED to go over 50 or 60, but the option would be nice!

Thanks,
Terri
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You need to run a compression test... you need to know what you are dealing with.
How many miles are on it?
With the stock rubber on it you should be able to easily do 70 on the highway. Around town it should be like a big go cart.. should really scoot around well. All this is with the engine being in decent shape.
When I first bought mine, I put over 50,000 on mine in about 9 months, all highway miles doing above the posted speed limit. (a lot of weekend trips)
As soon as you put larger tires on it you are changing the gearing... and the power dies. You mainly see the difference when 5th gear seems like riding the brakes.
Once you decide that nothing leaks, I recommend running synthetic oils in everything.
Change every filter it has and maybe drain the gas tank. Change the cap, rotor, plugs, etc. check the timing. You could also have a plugged cat converter. All this is so you can see what you have and kinda like starting from zero. As long as you do this stuff your self it's not going to cost much. Plus you have a 25 yo car... get used to it.
Pickup a Haynes book or something. You'll need it.
And yea, you have the 1.3 5sp.
The 1.3 is like 4 little shot glasses going up and down. Not a lot of displacement.

thanks,
george
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