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1986 Suzuki Samurai - Suzuki Lightning

Posted in Features on August 1, 2004 Comment (0)
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Suzuki Samurais continue to be popular with off-roaders because there are a ton of parts out there for them and they make great little trail rigs. There are so many of them around that picking one up for less than $2,000 means that anyone interested in getting into four-wheeling can easily do so.

This Samurai belongs to Alan Kempton at Suzuki Lightning Conversions, and the first modification he performed was swapping out the little four-banger for a Chevy 4.3L V-6. Alan's company builds complete kits for V-6 and V-8 conversions in Samurais, so this part of the buildup was very straightforward. It also did a lot to wake up the little 4x4 on the street and trail. With power steering and a custom aluminum radiator thrown into the pack, the rig really began to take shape. Backing up the motor is a stock 2004R tranny that's been completely rebuilt. This transmission took some heat in the early- to mid-'80s for not holding up, but hot-rodders and others have enjoyed the great ratios and the inherent toughness of the little turbo hydromatics.

Since Alan was getting ready to take the rig out to Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari, he undertook a few more upgrades before hitting the trail. He held onto the stock axlehousings, but equipped them with 3.73 gears and Detroit Lockers. He then performed a spring-over-axle conversion, using the stock leaf springs to make room for the new 32-inch Goodyear M/TRs and to ensure he got plenty of flex on the red rock.

To make the interior space a little more inviting, Alan insulated the cab, put down new carpet, and installed custom leather seats and door panels. During the photo shoot, the Samurai's temperature gauge stayed rock-steady, and Alan took the 4x4 wherever we asked him to. He even offered to roll it onto its side. We didn't take him up on it, but we were impressed with how well this little rig performed.

SPECIFICATIONS
Vehicle: '86 {{{Suzuki Samurai}}}
Owner/hometown: Alan Kempton/
  Tampa Bay, Florida
Engine: Chevy 4.3L V-6
Induction: Multiport fuel injection
Transmission: Chevy 200R4 automatic
Transfer case: Stock Samurai
Frontend: Stock Samurai with
  Detroit EZ Locker
Rearend: Stock Samurai with
  Detroit EZ Locker
Ring-and-pinion: 3.73
Suspension: Spring-over with
  stock springs
Tires/wheels: 32x11.50R15LT Goodyear
  M/TRs/15x8-inch alloys

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