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Nothing Is the Norm on This Toyota V-8–powered Right-Hand-Drive Samurai

Posted in Features on September 16, 2016
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“Essentially a metric flatfender”

Suzuki Samurais makes excellent wheeling platforms. Their lightweight and small size make them essentially a metric flatfender. But while people have been shoving V-8s into flatfenders for decades now, you rarely see one in a Samurai. The thing about Jeff Clibon’s Samurai is that the V-8 engine isn’t even the most unique aspect of it. And he is running a Toyota 1UZ engine, not your run-of-the-mill small-block Chevy.

This Samurai also has 1-ton axles, 42-inch BFG Krawlers, and coilover and bypass shocks at each corner. Oh, and did we mention that it is right-hand drive? “I wanted something different,” Clibon explains. “The right-hand drive gives a different perspective on the trail and makes things more interesting.” If different was the goal, we would have to say that mission accomplished.

Power comes from a 4.0L Toyota V-8 engine that makes 256 hp and 260 ft-lb of torque, even with a Scotch-Brite pad for an air filter. These engines use an aluminum block and heads, with dual overhead cams. They are lightweight and like to rev.
The front suspension is a triangulated four-link that ties into a custom truss that Jeff Clibon built. The lower links are solid 6061-T6 aluminum and fitted with 1 1/4-inch rod ends. The links work with 14-inch-travel King 2.0 remote-reservoir coilovers fitted with 80-lb/in over 150-lb/in coil springs and 14-inch-travel King 2.0 three-tube bypass shocks.
Up front a high-pinion kingpin Dana 60 was swapped in from a Ford F-350. The axle is filled with 4.56 gears, a full spool, 300M axleshafts and U-joints, Reid Racing knuckles, and G2 drive flanges.
Running a triangulated front suspension with a traditional steering box results in massive bumpsteer, so Clibon runs full-hydraulic steering system. The PSC double-ended ram is bolted to Blue Torch Fabworks steering arms with custom tie rods fitted with rod ends at each end.
Clibon cut off the front of the Samurai frame and replaced it with 1.75x0.120-wall tubing to maximize uptravel and approach angle. The tubing is topped with a Smittybilt X20 10,000-pound winch wrapped in synthetic winch line. Clibon mounted the grille to the hood so the whole assembly swings up when he opens the hood.
Clibon narrowed the rear of the already narrow Samurai and cut the top off of his tin top. With limited space under the hood with the addition of the V-8, he runs a 31x19.5-inch rear-mounted aluminum radiator fitted with a Spal electric fan.
The first thing you notice about the interior is that the steering wheel is on the wrong side. With full-hydraulic steering there is just hoses routed from the orbital valve to the ram, no steering shaft, so the wheel can go anywhere you want. Clibon used a gauge cluster from the same Lexus SC400 that supplied the engine and rows the Aisin automatic transmission with a gated shifter from Moab 4x4 Outpost. The seats and harnesses are actually UTV parts, but they fit perfectly in a Samurai.
Under the Blue Torch diff cover, 4.56 gears are bolted to a full spool. Disc brakes shed weight and stop better than the factory drums, and the bottom of the differential has been shaved for increased ground clearance. Like the front, the rear axle is located by a triangulated four-link that works in conjunction with King coilovers and bypass shocks.
Clibon stretched the wheelbase of his Samurai from 80 inches to 107 1/2 to accommodate the 42-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers mounted on 20-inch TrailReady beadlocks. The Toyota engine has plenty of power to spin the tires and get them hot and sticky, and with 1-ton axles under a vehicle that only weighs 3,400 pounds, Clibon isn’t too worried about breakage.

Tech Specs

1988 Suzuki Samurai

Engine: Toyota 4.0L V-8
Transmission: Aisin AW4
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 4.56 gears, full spool, 300M axleshafts
Rear Axle: Corporate 14-bolt with 4.56 gears, full spool

Springs & Such: Triangulated 4-link with King coilovers and bypass shocks (front and rear)
Tires & Wheels: 42x14.50R20 BFGoodrich Krawler KX on 20x9.50 TrailReady HD beadlock
Steering: PSC full hydraulic steering
Other Stuff: Smittybilt X20 winch, M4O shifter, aluminum radiator, Beard RZR seats, Dragon Fire harnesses, Optima YellowTop battery, custom 1.75x0.120-wall DOM cage

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