Solid Samurai – 1987 Suzuki Samurai – Sold!
Despite its fantastic off-road capabilities, the Suzuki Samurai’s Achille’s heel was its lack of rust proofing. Consequently, rust-free examples such as the one listed on Craigslist in Roxborough, Pennsylvania are a rare site today. The current caretaker has their Samurai optimistically listed at $7,000. According to the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range for ’87 Samurais is only $1,100, $1,900, and $3,550, and respectively so the private seller is banking the next caretaker is willing to pay a premium for the rust-free frame and body.
In 1985, Suzuki made the bold move to launch its SJ-Series Samurai in the United States for the 1986 model year. Priced at $6,200, it was $2,500 less than a comparable Jeep Wrangler. This price advantage helped Suzuki move 47,000 units that first year and by 1987 was actually outselling the Jeep by nearly double. While only equipped with a 1.3 liter, 63 horsepower inline four-cylinder engine, the Samurai’s lightweight made up for it. The off-road community respected the Samurai as a real 4WD vehicle equipped with a low range, two-speed transfer case. Its lightness makes it a very nimble off-roader less prone to sinking in softer ground than heavier vehicles. The three-year success story ended in 1988 when Consumer Reports published dramatic photos and videos of the Suzuki tipping up onto an outrigger-equipped example to replicate a rollover one of its employees encountered in real life. By the of 1988 sales plummeted by 70 percent compared to the prior year.
If you dare to be different and would rather have a vintage Suzuki than the sea of Jeeps you’ll see on the beach or at your favorite off-road trail, this rust-free Samurai appears to be a great base to start your build. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“CALIFORNIA CAR! This ’87 Suzuki Samurai was transported from the Bay Area to Philly about a year ago. The car spent almost all of its life in Los Angeles before arriving on the east coast. Car runs and drives. 4WD hubs were recently rebuilt in addition to new shocks, new tires, and new soft top. These little cars are very sought after for 4×4 modification and this one is still on stock springs and suspension. Perfect place to start a project or keep it the way it is as a beach vehicle. If you know about these Samurai’s, you know how hard they are to find, let alone with no rust! If you are interested, please send me a message with your offer!“
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