Part III: Power And Performance
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To recap from the first two installments of project Sami Supreme, our '86 Suzuki Samurai underwent a few major transformations including a Toyota dual t-case drivetrain swap, a completely new three-link suspension, and some serious tube work from top to bottom. one of the main goals for the project was to increase the tire size from the previous 35-inch Baja Claws to a slightly taller 37-inch tire. With the sami riding on the taller 37-inch Goodyear MT/RS, it was obvious on our first test run that the anemic 1.3-liter stock Samurai engine simply didn't have enough guts to leverage the larger tires on serious obstacles.
The preferred solution to any weak engine is to replace it with something larger, perhaps with a few more cylinders. after all, there is even a popular phrase for just such a dilemma that states, "there's no replacement for displacement." While swapping engines may look like the obvious fix, there are a few parameters that must be met, namely the budget. Another limiting factor is weight. the stock Samurai engine may be lacking in a true test of power. If you can throw a rooster tail uphill in the sand with 37-inch tires, you're doing oK. the new Wild Bore carburetor setup is phenomenal, providing a noticeable power increase. the horsepower department, but it also lacks in the weight department, weighing a mere 200 pounds complete. one of the initial goals for the project was to keep the rig as light as possible, so swapping in a heavy iron block V8, V6, or an even larger four-cylinder like a Toyota 22RE would not exactly be ideal.
A popular engine swap for Samurai owners has long been the 1.6L, 16-valve Suzuki engine found in Geo Trackers and Suzuki Sidekicks. this engine is essentially the same as the Samurai 1.3L, eight-valve engine but with slightly more displacement and twice as many valves, giving it about 20 more horsepower with no noticeable weight increase. the 16-valve Suzuki engine has also become a popular choice for its fuel injection, allowing it to perform flawlessly on extreme angles unlike the carbureted Samurai setup.