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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Samurai owners, I am looking to purchase a smaller sized off road rig and the Samurai's have peaked my interest. However, I also would like to have thie ability to take this vehicle on longer trips as well. I am thinking the trips will be less than 500 miles but it will be through the hilly highways of New Hampshire and Maine, for example. I will also probably sell my current 06 Grand Vitara for both money reasons and that I really don't like making car payments anymore.

I have driven a Samurai once when I was 19ish, and wasn't impressed with the power. 14 years later I am a bit (wee bit) more mature and don't really need that power, but I still wonder how it would perform on the highway with two people, camping gear for up to a week, and two kayaks on top. There is a Samurai on my local craigslist that looks pretty good, but I am hesitant to waste someones time just to "see if I like it."

My long winded question is: Does anyone have any experience with the Samurai as a daily driver or for long distances? Any stories and experiences are much appreciated.
 

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My daily drivers for the last 14 years have been Samurais. If you leave the zook stock you will still be wishing for more power. The 54 screamin ponies under the hood can get you about 70mph with a tail wind. Add another passenger and camping gear and you won't see even that much. The stock gas tank combined with an average 20mpg will net you about a 200 mile range. Add a trailer (1000 lbs towing capacity) and you will get passed by everything on the road.

I have also driven a Samurai to Zookimelt before (El Paso to Attica = over 1300 miles each way). And although it can be done, it isn't the most comfortable.

So why do I still drive Sammies? Because there is alot of things you can do to them that will make them shine. Motor swaps, carb swaps, gear swaps, suspension changes and a few other tricks can make a real difference.

It's worth it when you can run a trail and do obstacles that others cringe at. It's also worth it when you can run down the highway at 80mph, step on the gas and pass the rest of the traffic - Then slow down for a radar trap where the cops don't give you a second look... It may not be a wolf in sheeps clothing, but it can be a meaner, more capable sheep...

But you have to make it happen.
 

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Hi I drive my zook all day aswell and wont change it. Granted the work to home jump is only 12 kms but I do regular trips to durban about 700kms away. I am running 30" tyres with an olm man emu suspention kit and rock road outfitters rear to front so all the spring are the same, I was lucky enough to experiance a spring failure in leshoto , no pleasent at all, the rest is standard, yes lacking in power but do manage to maintain about 55-60 mph on the freeway. But once you were you are going the advantages out weigh the slow speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I love the attitude about the Samurais so far. I took a look at the Sammy that is for sale locally. They are asking $2650, but have come down from $3k in the last three or so weeks. It appears that the frame is rust free, or very little rust. The mounts that I have looked at appear solid. So does the running gear. It has been freshly painted, but I saw a quarter sized rust hole what appeared to be an insignificant location on the body. Otherwise the body and interior looked solid and surprisingly newish. There is no back seat, which is fine, and there appeared to be plenty enough room for my purposes.

I am curious on how the drive train would handle increased power. An engine swap would be one of my last upgrades unless it blows, and then it would probably be a Suzuki 1.6 or 1.8L. Ideally I would drop in a Toyota 2.7 if it isn't too complicated. I was thinking a slight OME lift, and front and back lockers, and kayak rack for my first round of mods. Maybe fender cutting. I would wait on a winch and bumper.
 

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I always say that driving a Samurai may not be very comfortable, but it can be very comforting when you're out on a lonely dirt road/trail specially in bad weather. There's something about the weight, dimensions, and capability of that little 4x4 that, when built right, just makes it run through most obstacles.

I'm just a bit uncomfortable about the kayaks you plan to carry on the roof. A Samurai, which is narrow to begin with, loaded with kayaks on the roof might be unstable specially on off-camber situations. It just might end up lying on its side. Lifting the rig and adding large tires (to improve off-road ability) would aggravate this. This is something you might want to think about.
 

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I'm just a bit uncomfortable about the kayaks you plan to carry on the roof. A Samurai, which is narrow to begin with, loaded with kayaks on the roof might be unstable specially on off-camber situations. It just might end up lying on its side. Lifting the rig and adding large tires (to improve off-road ability) would aggravate this. This is something you might want to think about.
One thing I did to the Stalker project was to give the zook a wider stance by adding quality wheel spacers. They are made by Spidertrax and they call them 'adapters' but they space the wheels out 1" for a total of 2" wider wheelbase. They use Suzuki wheel studs pressed into machined aluminum spacers. It felt much better in hard turns...



This can also be achieved using offset wheels, but I wanted to keep the stock look...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Clivey: Having the kayaks on the roof at highway speeds is something that I was concerned about, but I wasn't planning on taking it on trails. One of the things I was thinking about though was to tow the Sammy long distances and use it for off-roading and to park at the foot of the stream and head upstream to launch the kayaks. This way we don't have to paddle up river. This is especially nice in the rivers with rapids.

Billjohn: I have seen those spidertrax, but I wondered if they would be detrimental in anyway because the wheels weren't mounted directly to the hubs. I suppose it is not since you seem to have better ability to maneuver.
 

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Billjohn: I have seen those spidertrax, but I wondered if they would be detrimental in anyway because the wheels weren't mounted directly to the hubs. I suppose it is not since you seem to have better ability to maneuver.
On the Stalker, we can take high speed turns without any fear of tipping (55-65mph) and we have seen no problems with bearing wear or component failure.

I also use a set on the front axle of my trail zook. I beat the heck out of it on the rocks and I have never had a component failure or bearing wear problem.

I have been known to destroy wheels out on the trail (rock rash, out-of-round crushes from hard drops), so I was glad to know that I could still have the offset without buying expensive offset wheels each season. Still running my original set from Spidertrax...
 

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One thing I did to the Stalker project was to give the zook a wider stance by adding quality wheel spacers. They are made by Spidertrax and they call them 'adapters' but they space the wheels out 1" for a total of 2" wider wheelbase. They use Suzuki wheel studs pressed into machined aluminum spacers. It felt much better in hard turns...
This is a good idea. They help not only in terms of giving a wider track, but also allow larger front tires to clear the leaf springs and other undercarriage components during hard turns.

I was lucky to find a set of used steel rims with a 1.5in offset per wheel selling at a good price so I went that route. They stick out beyond the fender flares and throw mud up the sides of the vehicle giving the Samurai a nice "colorful" look. ;)

There's not much difference when using offset rims or spacers as long as they're from reputable makers. I did read from Land Rover literature that steel rims are preferred over alloy rims for hard use as they can take more abuse.

Just be careful trailing the samurai with loads on the roof. It's when it's tipped to one side in uneven terrain that the risk of tumbling over is highest. The wider track from the spacers/offset rims should help a bit.
 

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I drive mine 120 miles per day for my commute to work from Brooksville,fl to Tampa,fl.
I have a 2-wheel drive and average 25mpg and mine will run at 70mph.

just turn up the stereo a little bit more.
 

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i love my sami but it is the last choice of my vehicles to take on a long trip. i hate to say it :-(

my samurai has a small lift (5") and 31x10.5 tires on 8" wide wheels. when i had the stock engine in it, it was a nightmare for the freeway. i could not climb hills at all without downshifting and screaming in 4th gear. After i motor swapped to a mid 90s sidekick engine with the 1.6L fuel injected 16 valve engine... NIGHT & DAY difference. It feels like the engine that the samurai should have came with. For once i actually had to LET OFF THE GAS on the freeway. i've never taken it above probably 80mph actual speed nor would I but it sure is nice to be able to hop on the freeway and go 70 with traffic without worry unlike with the stock samurai engine.

i would say buy a samurai if you're looking for a fun truck, but NOT for your only vehicle. at least not to drive long distances in. not comfortable even with 100+horsepower.
 

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I have a sami that I use everyday for work. I work in the bush and travel 150-300km a day with it on twisty logging roads and small secondary highways. I agree that in stock form they are under powered. I have 9" of lift, 31" tires and a beefed 8V 1.6L with a pony carb and a header. I can clip along at 60mph no problem with a canoe on top (without any crosswinds!). The best thing that I did was swapped out the stock seats and fitted it with seats out of an Acura Integra; they are super comfy and not overly large and cumbersome. This is the first year I'm going to run it year round now that I got a hardtop and I will be pulling my skidoo with it (so far without issues). I have lockers in mine and I would advise against this if you are using it on the street and have any snow issues. We have tons of snow where I am and it can get stressful on icy roads with the locker and the short wheelbase but is worth it once I leave the plowed roads!

Just my $0.02 (is that $0.005 Canadian?)
 
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