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1987 Suzuki Samurai - Trail Zuk

Starting Stock & Building With A Purpose

Jay KopycinskiPhotographer, Writer

Chris Barkley was looking for a vehicle to explore some of the forested trails near his home in the mountains of Arizona. He considered a UTV, but quickly snuffed that idea in favor of a built Suzuki. He found a clean, stock ’87 Samurai for $1,400 and began from there.

All along he knew that he wanted to keep the Sammy at a fairly small profile to have the ability to easily navigate tight trails, but he wanted sufficient ground clearance and suspension flex to make it capable of tackling substantial trail obstacles. With those goals in mind, he chose to build upon 33-inch tires and about 6 inches of suspension lift.

Chris used a Trail Tough Jeep YJ spring conversion combined with 6:1 low range transfer case gears, and locked and geared Samurai axles. Front and rear Zuks Off Road bumpers and other steel armor protect the sheetmetal and drivetrain.

The resulting rig handles well on the trail, and the upgraded Sumo II engine with ZOR Harley carb conversion and header/exhaust mods provide more power to turn the Mickey Thompson Baja Claws.

Tech Specs
1987 Suzuki Samurai
Engine: Suzuki 1.3L Sumo II engine from Asian Auto Parts, ZOR Harley carb conversion, Doug Thorley tri-y header, 2-inch free-flow exhaust
Transmission: Stock 5-speed
Transfer case: Stock transfer case with 6:1 Trail Tough low-range gears
Front Axle: Samurai, 5.38:1 gears, Lock-Right, Trail Tough chromoly axles
Rear Axle: Samurai, 5.38:1 gears, Trail Tough mini spool and chromoly axleshafts
Springs & Such: Trail Tough Jeep YJ spring conversion, Ford shock towers, Doetsch Tech shocks in front; Jeep YJ leaf packs, Doetsch Tech shocks in rear
Tires & Wheels: 33X12.50R15LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw Radials on 15-inch steel wheels with 2 inches of backspacing
Steering: Crossover steering conversion
Other Stuff: Smittybilt XRC8 winch with synthetic rope, Trail Tough full skidplate, homemade sliders, rollcage, Corbeau Baja SS seats