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Once I got the truck home I did some more research on Samurais (I should have done this before the purchase), and let the truck sit for three months as I came up with a shopping list/build plan. I considered doing a bunch of fabrication, which can be cheap if you have the tools and skills, but realized that buying bolt-on parts is even easier and cheaper, so though it's not as cool as a custom four-link tube machine, my Samurai would be a great beginner wheeler for trails and light rocks. I decided to toss the wasted ragtop, clean the leaves from the interior and just get it running, add some lift and taller tires, and then wheel it with open diffs and street gears for now. To start, I swapped in a Kragen battery and changed the oil. Total cost $67.82.
Budget left -- $982.18