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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings, thank you for having me here & I pray 2023 is good to us all!

First post, long post, apologies in advance

I am a USCG Veteran, lifelong gearhead & single parent to 6yr old boy. We came into our 2000 Suzuki Vitara out of desperation. It's a low mile single owner, garage kept and came to me 3 months ago with 89K on the odometer. Bone stock & mint it is 4wd and standard transmission. Mechanically perfect. We've been living out of her for months now.

A father/son, "lets make lemonade out of some bad situations" Build; -complete with J20a to J23 swap. Additionally, the 2.5" OME suspension lift in conjunction with a set of 205/80R16's on properly offset stock steelies. I will go manual front Warn hubs, locker in the rear, stronger clutch, some form of roof rack w/lighting. Electric trailer provisions. In short, a more practical daily driver and light off-road vehicle capable of towing gear inside & a pop-up camper. (with the forums blessing & insight that is) Hazing and ridicule is sure to ensure but I'm going in.. This is what we trained for

Custody of my son cost me most everything and was well worth it. He came back with some awful issues culminating in 1.5yrs of surgeries, leg cast, tendon graphs. -The whole shooting matches. I couldn't carry and care for him sleep and work. So, I took what was left, paid the hospital bills, moving back to the family home to recover. It burned to the ground the very next day, April 1st, 2022. Thankful no one was hurt; I Demo'd what was left so we could sell off the lot as the house was under-insured. I got my mom set up in a small rental as that's how the housing market has gotten here in Tampa Bay, FL. My daily driver then gave up the ghost... I searched endlessly for something practical, efficient, reliable, not American, stick shift and preferably "true" 4wd. (It turns out you should not use a 20-year-old PT Cruiser to tear down the remnant of a block home... Who knew?!?) Sadly, our daily had been on its last leg from all the trips for surgery and it being a god forsaken pt cruiser. That said, my mom and many friends caught wind that I was only able to MAYBE afford a NOW 23-year-old vehicle and helped me come up with the $5.5K ask. Head in my hands I took what was left of my tools and some clothes, packed my son and moved onto our sailboat. I've been building S/V Albatross for some years in the hope of evading the rent trap and living aboard to cruise the seas. From a base hull, no rigging, electrical, plumbing or running engine I poured my soul into her so that when my son came through surgery, he would be able to step off into a new life on a fresh pair of legs the surgeries had afforded him. The sailboat sadly, located in Fort Myers, Florida fell victim to Hurricane Ian.

Here is the photo of us evacuating our burgundy red sailboat in our ZUKI. The boat with my son and us enroute out of state. a few photo's of the boats thrown around afterward so you know this isnt a manufactured sob story. My son and I love this lil buggy. It's what we have left and that isn't bad...

After all, the USCG motto is Semper Paratus. This is in fact what we train for. MOLON LABE

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration as our build progresses.


DMG Control

Sky Vehicle registration plate Cloud Wheel Tire


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99 Tracker, 5 door, 2L, 4x4
13,449 Posts
Welcome to the forum, feel your pain, went through similar 1978.. time heals the wounds..
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