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1990 Suzuki Samurai - Burning Diesel

Posted in Features on August 1, 2001 Comment (0)
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1990 Suzuki Samurai - Burning Diesel
0108 4wd 01 z+1990 suzuki samurai+offroad samurai

Among Suzuki aficionados, Petroworks is recognized as a one-stop shop for everything you need to build a backcountry-ready Samurai. Gary Munck, the owner of Petroworks, has a couple of nice Samurais that he uses as testbeds for the products he sells. For his latest project, Gary pulled out all the stops and put together a Samurai featuring all the best parts available, including a diesel engine.

Why put a diesel in a 4x4 that's already pretty anemic on the highway and could use a lot more horsepower under the hood? According to Gary, the 1.9L VW turbo diesel offers much better highway performance than the 1,300cc gas mill and produces fantastic low-end torque off road. Joining the other underhood mods on this Samurai are a Petroworks 105-amp alternator kit and a new power steering kit.

To keep the installation of the VW 1900 turbo diesel as simple as possible, Petroworks offers a kit that includes everything you need. The diesel's power and torque are fed through a stock Samurai five-speed transmission and a Petroworks GRS II transfer case.

The GRS II 4.89:1 Low range transfer case is a whopping 115 percent lower than stock. High range is 18 percent lower than stock (Samurais aren't 1:1 in High range). What this means is a better gear ratio on the highway to turn larger tires, and superb Low range off road that gives you a gear for any situation. The GRS II also has a dual-H shift pattern that gives you access to two- and four-wheel drive in Low range. Gary reports that the stock Suzuki 3.72:1 gears are adequate with the GRS II and the diesel in the backcountry. ARB Air Lockers front and rear keep all four wheels turning. When you want to stop those four wheels, the stock Samurai front disc brakes and rear disc brake kit from Spidertrax do the job well.

For better clearance and handling,a Petroworks spring-over-axle front suspension kit was installed along with its Missing Link shackles, extended shock towers and a custom Panhard rod. In the rear, a 1/4-elliptic, three-link suspension from Spidertrax was bolted up. Rancho remote-controlled RS 9000 shocks reside at all four corners. What all this means is that the little Samurai ramps more than 1,200 on a 30-degree ramp. While great ramp travel doesn't always equal great trail travel, we can attest to the fact that this Samurai flexes and works well off road.

A rockcrawler needs protection, so Gary bolted on one of Petroworks' skidplate crossmembers, a set of Rock Sliders rocker guards, an ARB Bull Bar with a Warn X9000 winch, and Hella 500 lights. On the inside, a Petroworks Sport Cage with a roof and bed rack was installed. A Bestop Sunport soft top keeps the occupants secure from heat and foul weather. On nice days, Petroworks' new half doors offer great visibility, keep the driver and passenger secure, and are lightweight and easy to install and remove.

A Rhino-Lined floor further enhances the interior of the Samurai, as do the Beard Racing seats. Petroworks' new bolt-in replacement dash gets rid of the plastic Suzuki piece, looks great, and houses a full complement of VDO gauges. The dash is available now and can be customized a number of ways, depending on the gauges you want to use.

Goodyear 32x11.50R15LT Wrangler MTRs were mounted on Petroworks' custom 15x8 chrome wheels. Gary says that these wheels work great and give more body clearance, but we thought they would provide too much scrub radius during turns. When we mentioned this, Gary informed us that he has not noticed any greater steering difficulty, especially with the power steering kit installed. Petroworks extended fender flares keep the vehicle street-legal and keep debris off the occupants. A Quick Air II 12-volt compressor makes quick work of airing up the Goodyears after a day of four-wheeling.

You can see why this Samurai is a great source of pride for Gary and the rest of the crew at Petroworks. We've seen the vehicle in action and can report that it works great on the trail and on the highway. What really sets it apart is the brand-new VW 1900cc turbo diesel. That should quiet all your friends' disparaging remarks about rice-burners.

SPECIFICATIONS
Make/model: '{{{90}}} {{{Suzuki Samurai}}}
Owner/hometown: Gary Munck/
Fallbrook, California
Engine: 1.9L {{{Volkswagen}}}
turbo diesel
Induction: Stock
Transmission: Stock five-speed
Transfer case: Petroworks GRS II
4.89:1
Frontend: Stock with Air Locker
Rearend: Stock with Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion: 3.72:1
Suspension: Petroworks spring-over
conversion (front);
Spidertrax three-link,
1/4 elliptical (rear)
Tires/wheels: Goodyear
32x11.50R15LT
Wrangler MTRs/
Petroworks 15x8 chrome

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