Up ] Pictures ] [ Specifications ] The Flip ] Tow Vehicle ] Off-Road Trips ] 4x4 Trip Checklist ] Off-Road Links ] GPS Links ] Other Projects ]


I started with a 1988 Suzuki Samurai. It still has the stock 1300cc engine and 5-speed transmission.

To give the Samurai some stability, I put the axles from a 1947 Willy's truck under it; a Dana 25 in the front and a Dana 53 in the rear. The axles have 4.88 gears. For added traction, I welded the spider gears.

I removed the Samurai's transfer case. In it's place, I put a second transmission (a 3-speed T-90) and a matching transfer case (Dana 18). Everyone wants to know how this was done, so here are the details. The resulting low gear is 149:1 providing the Samurai a very good crawl (see Samurai Gears for details).

In putting the new axles under it, I choose to go with disc brakes on both ends. We were able to use the Samurai's rotors and calipers for the front axle. For the rear, we used the rotors from a Bronco and the calipers from an early 70's Chevrolet truck. We custom fabricated the caliper bracket on both ends.

A custom spring-over and custom 3 1/2 inch body lift provides room for a set of 38x12.5 swampers.

During the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association's First Quarter meeting in March 2001, the Samurai (with me driving it) did a very nice end-over-end flip (see The Flip for details).

After the flip, the rear axle was bent; it lasted for almost a year before the carrier broke. I replaced the 53 with a Dana 44 from a 77 Scout. The 44 is not as wide as the 53, but it is wider than the stock axles. I change the drum breaks on the 44 to disc.

Another result of the flip was my decision to make the Samurai quite a bit longer. The wheel-base is now 114 inches! To achieve this wheel-base, we added 30 inches to the frame and replaced the stock Samurai springs with springs from a Toyota - much longer than the stock Samurai, allowing a terrific amount of wheel travel. I also got away from the stock shocks, now using some shocks which have about 12 inches of travel.

This stretch job required a lot of body work. The hood and grill were crushed during the flip; I have replaced the grill with a Jeep grill and we made the hood. We cut the original back out of the samurai and stretched it to cover the additional 30 inches that we added. We reused the Samurai tailgate, but made everything else.

After getting a workout trying to turn the 38's for a year or more, I finally upgraded to power steering. For this upgrade, I added the pump and gearbox from a 1-ton GMC truck. It is amazing to be able to lock both front hubs and still be able to steer.

After the 2004 Southern Trailfest in May of 2004, I decided that the stock motor was basically gone. So I put the Samurai in the shop and pulled it out. I got a 5.0 L fuel injected motor and began modifications to get it installed. Currently, the Samurai is sitting in the woods waiting for me to finish this job. Here are some pictures and details on what I have done on this project.

Other Enhancements

I added an 8000lb winch to get me out of those really tough spots. I wired a switch the dash of the Samurai - so I don't have to dig-out the remote every time I need to use the winch. The winch is a Ramsey REP8000 look-alike. It's slow, but it works.

To facilitate adding air to the tires, I converted the Samurai's air conditioner to an air compressor. It is not an internally oiled compressor, so I have to periodically add oil. I have added a 7 gallon air tank to the Samurai which lets me build some pressure and capacity - so I could potentially run air tools.

I have replaced the stock Samurai seats with a set of Pro High Back Race Seats from Jeg's. The seats provide excellent back, side and lumbar support. Some other people that have ridden with me do not like how they sit, but they fit me perfectly.

I have the Garmin GPS II+ to help me find my way. I also have the Delorme software.

A nice tool that I take with me (which has saved my butt) is a cordless rechargeable wire feed welder (Century 131b). It seems like we use this on nearly every trip to help someone get out of the woods.

A set of "off-road" driving lights are mounted up front to provide light off to the sides.

A Coleman "Power Chill" Iceless 12-Volt Cooler keep food hot or cold. It’s the next best thing to taking your refrigerator. It sits well in the back seat. I ran an additional 12-volt "cigarette lighter" adapter to the back of the Samurai to make it easy to plug in.

To help power the winch and other electronic accessories, I added a second battery, a large deep-cycle battery, under the hood of the Samurai - there was plenty of room on the drivers side of the engine compartment. I then placed a smaller deep-cycle battery in the back of the Samurai to provide some extra power for the cooler.

I also have a CB, Fire-Extinguisher, High-Lift Jack, Chainsaw, Shovel and Ax that go with me on most rides.

Future Enhancements

A line lock for the breaks would be nice - I currently have no emergency break.

More Details

[Samurai Gears] [2nd Transmission] [5.0 Upgrade]