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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,:)

I have the chance to buy a one owner 1988 Suzuki Samurai with 90,000 genuine miles, they would like $1600 for it, it has been used as a second vehicle by the elderly couple.
The only reason they are thinking of selling it is because an emission test is required where they live and maybe possibly need some carb work either a new carb or a carb kit? to pass the emissions. It runs nicely though.
The vehicle is in good condition for a vehicle that is 24 years old or so, with a comprehensive maintenance record also. The AC does not work, and the soft top has a split.
My question is, is it worth a punt or not or should I look elsewhere?
I drove a Geo Tracker about 10 years ago for a few months and I like the way that drove for a town vehicle which is where I will be using it 99% of the time.

Thanks.
 

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Possibly just the cat with those miles, if it otherwise runs good.

$1600 is good deal if it runs and drives good, and is rust free.

Top is easy to replace, like 20 minutes your first time, and takes no tools unless you need to replace the straps. The A/C is pretty simple. Keep it R12 for best A/C performance. It doesnt work that great even with R12 and in tip-top shape, but its a heck of a lot better than none at all...

I've driven a Sidekick/Tracker and it is much more like driving a modern car than a Samurai is. Driving a Samurai is more like driving a dump-truck in comparison. Rough ride and now power. A stock Samurai in good tune is good for 0-60 in 20 seconds and a top speed around 80...

That said, I LOVE my Samurai. When I want a nice ride and power, I drive my '96 Impala SS. I would not trade it for anything, except maybe a modern Jimny, if they had those here...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your reply.
The Samurai has been garaged kept all its life from what I can gather, and Colorado is dry so rust should not be an issue.
How does one check if the Cat is bad other than buy a new one?
I think I could change the soft top myself, but anything to do with maintenance, I might come unstuck as I know zip about the mechanics of a vehicle. Suppose one has to start somewhere, no one was born a mechanic eh?lol.
The air con I can live without.
My local Suzuki dealer has also an 88 Samurai with 93,000 miles for sale, I went to have a look tonight, its seems if my memory is correct the Samurai is larger than the Tracker? It seems like it is built more for off road?, did they not come with carpets as standard?
I might go and have a test drive of the dealers Samurai tomorrow to see if I like the way it drives and handles, there was no price on the vehicle but I am guessing about $4,000? from the prices I have seen some go for.
I might just take a gamble on the Samurai regardless, I don't think one can really go wrong for $1600 if all is as well as it appears.
 

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Go over and hand the old guys the cash...assuming you have taken it for a test drive.
If you test drive it, take it out onto a gravel road and put it into 4Hi and 4Lo. Be sure you turn the front axles in at the hubs.
If you are really comparing it to a Tracker then you will notice that the Sami is not independent wheels, so it will be tighter ( read rougher ride )
Likely it will not get the speed of the Tracker either.
Don't be fooled there is a huge difference off road between the two.
My preference is Sami. (but to each his own)
Welcome to our fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Arlo,

There seems to be a wealth of knowledge from happy Suzuki fun seeking owners on this site. Got me a Haynes manual from my local library last night, might as well start reading about the innards of the Samurai's workings under the hood etc.
I only drove it around a parking lot for about 30 seconds due to the sellers commitments.
I am going to test drive it properly this week end, and will do as you suggest Arlo and put it in the 4Hi and 4Lo mode, gravel roads are easy to find, the Rockies are huge and quite nearby!
The Tracker is the only vehicle I have driven that I think I can compare the Samurai with size wise anyhow, and of course its a stick shift, not driven one of those for many a year.
I don't mind slow, at least it has gears to mess about with whilst negotiating the hills,
as long as it is not like an aged 91 'slug' Land Cruiser, which is really painfully underpowered for its size and weight.lol
 

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Take it for a good test drive, have a mechanic check it out and if it feels good then buy it. $1600 is a fair price for years of enjoyment. I bought mine for my girlfriend but after taking it out a few times I decided to keep it for myself and gave her my passat instead;)
 

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I agree on the little to lose for $1600. The Samurai is almost perfect for learning to work on. It sounds like you have found a great deal.

as long as it is not like an aged 91 'slug' Land Cruiser, which is really painfully underpowered for its size and weight.lol
No two ways about it, a Suzuki Samurai is one of the most underpowered passenger vehicles on the road. The '91 Land Cruiser is a hot-rod in comparison.

That said, if you have the right frame of mind, the Samurai is more fun than any other vehicle on the road or off. :)

I have a '96 Impala SS, a 2008 Honda Goldwing, and a 2007 BMW F650GS. I drive the Sami more than all the others combined, and it is my prefered trip vehicle, unless I'm in the mood for a motorcycle ride.

One very ironic thing is that I LOVE thrashing it on a twisty mountain road. I can push it to 9/10ths and still be under the speed limit. :) In stock form, it actually handles quite nicely and is very well balanced. I have to say, that was the most shocking thing I discovered about the Samurai.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Wayne,

There can't be anything less powered than the Land Cruiser, 150hp weighing in at 6000lbs I believe, I get over taken by cyclists!!!
On an Incline, it is ok If I start from a standstill, but if it is a slow gradual hill on the move, then the LC runs out of puff very quickly, at least the gears on the Sam will help some.
I am going to learn (assuming I buy the Samurai of course) how to do some mechanical things myself, me, some spanner/s, and a large hammer, just in case the spanners fail.lol
 

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Dude if you don't buy that Samy I just may fly up there and buy it myself! Serousley if it were on Craig's list here in NC it wouldn't last 2 days.
 

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That Sami is looking good for original.



1991 Land Cruiser is 4600 Lbs and has 155HP and 220 lb-ft of torque. Thats 30 pounds per HP / 21 pounds per lb-ft of torque

Grossed out is 6500 Lbs or 42 pounds per HP / 30 pounds per lb-ft of torque

Suzuki Samurai is 2100 Lbs and has 60HP and 76 lb-ft of torque for 35 pounds per HP / 28 pounds per lb-ft of torque

Grossed out is 2932 for 49 pounds per HP / 39 pounds per lb-ft of torque

So the Land Cruiser has more power and torque than a Samurai, both empty and loaded. Also, the Land Cruiser makes it's power at low RPMs. You have to wring a Samurai's neck to get the power out of it. That can be fun though.

On mountain passes, I'm often pulling over to let people pass. I have passed two vehicles going uphill on passes though. One was a motor home chugging up Tioga pass. The other was an air-cooled VW MicroBus on Kit Carson Pass. Going up most steep grades, I'm doing 45 in 3rd, but some grades drop me to 30 and 2nd.

One neat thing is that you usually don't have to downshift for steep downhill grades, because the Samurai is so light, and has so much drag. A 25% grade causes the Samurai to max out at 50 or so, in neutral.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Possibly just the cat with those miles, if it otherwise runs good.

I just found out a new Cat has been recently put on it to see if that
helps with it passing the dreaded emission crap, I am hoping the Carburetor will just need to be adjusted instead of a new one being needed.
I am getting the pennies ready to buy this Samurai, as I think this to too good a deal to pass me by.
:)
 

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your crazy if you dont buy it. that thing is cherry. the cat.. converter is not a hard fix.unbolt it put it in a deep buck of dish washing soap good quality one for a couple of days rinse it off re install it. give a ful tune up plugs wires cap rotor all filter oil change pcv valve two bootles of gumout carbfuelinjector cleaner in it and your going to pass your state test.air filter too.catilitic converters dont go bad at 90k or 150k they get dirty theres ways of cleanin them out you replace it and your throwing big money away.ive even had a buick grand national pas new york state emissions with no converter.believe it or not.also fill up your tank about 3/4 and put onne gallon of paint thinner in the tank run it on the highway for 2 hours or more at 60-70 m.p.h. also cleans out the carbon in the cat converter.dont replace it like some folks do here its a waste of time and money.theres also a mixture screw onn the carb you can adjust also.good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the tips REY0176, which I will do as a matter of course when the Sam is mine, except for the Cat clean, the current owner has already bought and put on the vehicle prior to him wanting to sell it. Where I live, there is no yearly emission test, thankfully.
 

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I am sitting back eating some popcorn waiting to see if you bought the sammy or not.

Like someone else mentioned, I would be a buyer in a country minute for that Zook at $1600. In SoCal it would cost you at least double that amount.
 

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I'm sure you'll be more than happy with your purchase. Nobody that has ever driven my sami has had anything bad to say about it. Other than it was a piece of shit. Which it was! But they loved driving it anyway. Bought mine for $600 and it probably wasn't worth that. But it was so much fun I got addicted, and now it's almost my perfect car. When I'm done it will be. I'm going to save it for my son. I still have 8 years left with it
 

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im glad you agree too. my 87 is originaly from mid cali .got it from 1st owner.for a steal 1600 also my dad bought it.i got for 1000 from him he fell back on bills now today im doing a small rebuild on the engine. and unfurtunenatly selling it asking 3500 factory a/c 72000 miles.cherry just like this one.i need money to get my cdl license back been out of work for 2 years.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi all,

bought the Sam yesterday (monday), today tuesday it is in the garage getting a timing belt and water pump, the timing belt has never been done, the purchase price was lowered to $1500.
There is some rust on the sills behind the the plastic cover though, which will need further investigation when I get it home.Pictures to follow.
Should be interesting driving down the Interstate.
You are correct Wayne the Sam is slow, and similar to the slug that is the Land Cruiser.
The mechanic who is doing the belt has owned a few Samurai's in his time, so it is good hands,lol...............
Funnily enough the Sam is more expensive to Insure than the Land Cruiser!
 
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