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1990 Suzuki Samurai - Burning Diesel

Offroad Samurai
Posted August 1, 2001

A Converted Samurai Built for the Rocks

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.

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