12 Nov 2012

Living with - Suzuki SJ413 Samurai

The car - Suzuki SJ413 Samurai
Owner - Phil Millar


Having had an SJ410 as a daily driver and RTV (Road Taxed Vehicle) trials hack years back I picked this up as an off road 'toy' to save the X-Trail getting trashed. When I bought it the only modifications were a spring over axle lift and 31x10.50x15 all terrain tyres, wheel spacers giving 3" extra track and a set of 3" rock rails. 


With the SPOA and 31's the Samurai had around 8" of lift. With this and 3" wider track, handling was best described as 'interesting'. With the lift and spacers, B roads need to be treated with the utmost respect, or it'll try to pitch you through the hedges (and not nessesaryily the closest one) at the drop of a hat, or any dip in the road surface. Believe me, these tonka trucks keep you focused, totally.

The 410 & 413 engines are a revvy wee lump, think of a tall Austin Mini and you get the idea, responsive, revvy and willing.


The SJ's are basic, agriculturally basic. 'Carpets' are in fact heavy plastic sheet that cover two, 2" rubber bungs in each footwell to allow water drainage. You get what you legally require and that's about it. Well, you do get a heater that works, something Land Rover Defender owners can't claim. Being Suzuki, what you get does work - and keeps working.

Bodywork is wafer thin so is prone to tin worm, but rolling chassis and mechanicals are close to bomb proof. 

The upside of all this basic spec is, there's less to go wrong, and easy to work on. With some basic tools you can have a half shaft changed in under an hour, in a field! I dropped a gearbox and changed the clutch with it on a driveway without the need of ramps. 

Off road is where the Suzuki excels, even in standard trim. light, great turning circle and willing to rev into the red and out the other side. Even if you do break something 9 times out of 10 you can 'limp' them home and pick up parts cheap as chips.


All in all, they're basic, scary on road, an absolute hoot off road and cheap to run. If you're after an off road toy, you'd be hard pushed to get more smiles per £ from anything else on the market. If your after a daily driver, I'd suggest you look at something else.