The Suzuki Jimny is a line of SUVs from Suzuki. The line started in 1968 and is still running.
The history of Suzuki four-wheel-drive cars dates to 1968. Suzuki bought former Japanese automaker Hope Motor Company which had introduced fifteen small off-road vehicles called the HopeStar ON360. The first Suzuki-branded 4-wheel drive, the LJ10, was introduced in 1970. The LJ10 had a 359 cc air-cooled, two-stroke, in-line two-cylinder engine. The liquid-cooled LJ20 was introduced in 1972 with the cooling changed due to newly enacted emission regulations, and it gained 3 hp. In 1975, Suzuki complemented the LJ20 with the LJ50, which had a larger 539 cc, two-stroke, in-line three-cylinder engine and bigger differentials. This was originally targeted at the Australian market, but more exports soon followed.
The Jimny8/LJ80 was an updated version of the LJ50 with an 800 cc, four-stroke, in-line four-cylinder engine, followed by the Jimny 1000/SJ410 and Jimny 1300/SJ413. An updated version of the SJ413 became known as the Samurai and was the first Suzuki officially marketed in the US. The series from SJ410 to SJ413 was known as the Sierra in Australia, and remained the Jimny in some markets.
The vehicle was originally developed by the Hope Motor Company of Japan in 1967 and sold as the HopeStar ON360 from April 1968. It used a Mitsubishi 359 cc (21.9 cu in) air-cooled 2-stroke ME24 engine which produced 21 PS (15.4 kW). The rear axle was sourced from the Mitsubishi Colt 1000 and wheels were sourced from the Mitsubishi Jeep. It was a very basic two-seater vehicle with no doors, but a sturdy four-wheel drive system allowed it to go off-road. Top speed was 70 km/h (43 mph), 30 km/h in 4WD mode. The tiny Hope company sold very few ON360s, possibly as few as fifteen, although 100 ME24 engines were purchased) and sold the design to Suzuki in 1968, after Mitsubishi declined to take over production.
The compact off-road capable Suzuki Jimny was Suzuki's first global success, lending it name recognition and a foothold in markets worldwide. The Jimny slotted into a hitherto unfilled gap in the market.
Suzuki's first move on acquiring the rights to the ON360 was rebodying it and replacing the Mitsubishi engine with an air-cooled 359 cc (21.9 cu in) Suzuki "FB" two-cylinder two-stroke which produced 25 hp (19 kW). Since the new unit remained smaller than 360 cc, and Suzuki placed the spare tire inside the truck (making it a three-seater) to keep it under 3 meters in overall length, it was classified as a kei car, conferring certain tax privileges and other benefits. When it was introduced in 1970 it was the first four-wheel drive kei car to enter series production. The LJ10 Jimnys had sixteen inch wheels, weighed 590 kg (1,301 lb), and had a top speed of 75 km/h (47 mph). The engine was soon uprated to a 27 hp version, but claimed top speed remained unchanged.
The LJ was updated in May 1972 and renamed the LJ20. The grille bars were changed from horizontal to vertical for the LJ20. The engine was replaced with a water-cooled unit (the L50), and its 28 hp (21 kW) enabled the LJ to reach 80 km/h (50 mph). A special version with the spare tire mounted behind the passenger seat allowed for two small rear seats, facing each other. The introduction of left hand drive signalled Suzuki's worldwide ambitions for the truck. The Hard Top (Van) was also introduced when the LJ20 arrived, equipped with smaller, 15 inch wheels. Suzuki themselves did not export them to America, a US company called IEC (International Equipment Co.) imported them. Export Jimnys had the spare tire mounted on the outside, as Kei regulations on length did not apply.
Towards the end of LJ20 production, a cleaner 26 hp (19 kW) engine was introduced, a result of ever more stringent emissions regulations. Top speed was reported as 93 km/h (58 mph), payload was 250 kg/550 lb (200 kg/440 lb for the Van version).
The LJ50 engine (Japanese: Suzuki LJ50) was first introduced in September 1975 for export only, with 33 hp (25 kW). For the home market, it first appeared in June 1976 as the Jimny 55 and reflected the changing kei car rules and stricter emissions standards. The 539 cc (32.9 cu in) 3-cylinder engine remained a 2-stroke; while power was reduced to 26 hp (19 kW) more low-end torque was on offer. The 635 kg (1,400 lb) vehicle could now hit 60 mph (97 km/h), and the spare tire was relocated outside the rear door, allowing for a fourth seat. The SJ10 Jimny used the "LJ50" name in most export markets.
In Australia the LJ50S and LJ50V (van) were available as a softtop with soft doors and rear-mounted spare wheel or hardtop with full metal doors and external spare wheel through distributor M.W.-Suzuki (Melbourne) with 33 hp and 5.85 kg-m (42 lb-ft) of torque. In May 1976, the low production LJ51P long wheelbase pickup became available for some export markets. The home market Jimny 550 received a facelift in 1977, introducing rear wheel arch metal flares and a bigger bonnet or hood with cooling slots above the radiator, while the export model LJ50s were instead replaced by the LJ80 (same external modifications but with the new four-stroke four-cylinder 800 cc engine fitted)
The final iteration of the original Jimny design was the 1977 Jimny 8, called LJ80 in certain export markets. While the SJ10 remained in production for the domestic Kei category, the new 1700 lb (770 kg) SJ20 boasted a 797 cc (48 in³) 4-stroke SOHC four-cylinder F8A engine capable of around 41 hp (31 kW). The additional power and torque of this engine allowed the differential and gearing to be raised for better cruising and offroad performance, and the track was widened by 4 in (100 mm).
The interior was also improved, with new seats and steering wheel. Metal doors became available for the first time in 1979, and a pickup truck model (LJ81) was available by April of that year as well. The pickup, called "Stockman" in Australia, had a 2200 mm wheelbase (up by 270 mm) and was 3,620 mm (143 in) long, compared to the 3185 mm LJ80. The Jimny 8/LJ80 was retired in late 1981 with the introduction of the second generation Jimny.
The Suzuki SJ30 began production in May 1981 in Hamamatsu, Japan. In Japan, it was sold as the Suzuki Jimny and was a kei car, produced with both 550 cc and 660 cc 3-cylinder engines. The SJ-Series received a bigger engine and was lengthened and widened for export purposes, where it was sold with a multitude of names: Suzuki SJ410/413, Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Sierra, Suzuki Potohar (Pakistan), Suzuki Caribbean (Thailand), Suzuki Katana (Indonesia), Chevrolet Samurai, Holden Drover (Australia) and Maruti Gypsy (India).
The SJ30 Jimny 550 was mainly for Japanese domestic market consumption where it suited the Kei car category. Still powered by the LJ50 engine also used in its predecessor, the Jimny 550 was by a sizable margin the last two-stroke engine built in Japan. Production ended with the withdrawal of type approval in November 1987 in favor of its F5A-engined brother, the JA71. The two-stroke had been favored by Japanese off-roaders (and by Suzuki) due to its superior torque.
The SJ40 Jimny 1000 was introduced for 1982 to replace the LJ80 range. The Jimny 1000, sold as the Suzuki SJ410 in most export markets, used the F10A - a larger 1 litre version of the LJ's 0.8 liter four-cylinder engine. This engine produced 45 hp (34 kW) and it had a top speed of 68 mph (109 km/h). The Japanese market models claimed 52 hp (39 kW) at 5,000 rpm.
A four-speed manual transmission was standard, as were non-power assisted drum brakes front and rear. The SJ410 came as a half-door convertible, long-wheelbase pickup truck, two-door hardtop (called "Van" in Japan), raised-roof hardtop, and no-glass hardtop (panel van). In Japan, the pickup truck was intended as a bare-bones work vehicle and did not receive fender extensions, and had diagonal tires on black-painted steel wheels rather than the sportier wheels fitted to the regular Jimny. Maximum payload is 350 kg (770 lb). Later, a covered long-wheelbase version was added for export markets.
The SJ410 was also produced in Spain by Santana Motors in their Linares, Jaén factory as of March 1985 and was sold as a domestic vehicle in Europe due to its over 60% native parts content, thereby evading limits on imports of Japanese-built automobiles. Some later models of the SJ410 would switch to disk brakes in the front depending on the factory they were made at. In March 1990, Santana-built versions received the same chassis developments which turned the SJ413 into the Samurai; this version was sold as Samurai 1.0 where it was offered ("Samurai Mil" in Spain).
This Indian built SJ-410 has only ever been available in a long-wheelbase version. The Gypsy remains in production for the South Asian market, as does the Pakistani "Suzuki Potohar". The version still produced in India by Maruti-Suzuki is the Maruti Gypsy King, using the sixteen valve, 80 hp (60 kW) 1.3 liter G13 engine.
JA51 Jimny 1300
In 1984, the SJ was revamped with the launch of the SJ413 (internal model code JA51). The SJ413 included a larger 1.3 liter 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission and power brakes all around. The body and interior were also redesigned, with a new dashboard, seats, and grille. The SJ410 remained in production for various other markets with the old specifications.
North American market
The SJ-Series was introduced to the United States (Puerto Rico (SJ-410) and Canada earlier) in 1985 for the 1986 model year. It was priced at just $6200 and 47,000 were sold in its first year. The Samurai had a 1.3 liter, 63 hp (47 kW), 4-cylinder engine and was available as a convertible or a hardtop. The Suzuki Samurai became intensely popular within the serious 4WD community for its good off road performance and reliability compared to other 4WDs of the time. This is due to the fact that while very compact and light, it is a real 4WD vehicle equipped with a transfer case switchable 4WD and low range. Its lightness makes it a very nimble off roader less prone to sinking in softer ground than heavier ones. It is also considered a great beginner off-roader due to its simple design and ease of engine and suspension modifications.
The 1988.5 model Samurai was re-tuned for better on-road use in the United States. This revision included softer suspension settings and a larger anti-sway bar to reduce body roll. A lower 5th gear (.865:1 vs the earlier .795:1) increased engine rpm and power on the highway, and improved dashboard and seats made the Samurai more comfortable.
A new 1.3 4-cylinder engine with throttle-body fuel injection was introduced with 66 hp (49 kW) in September 1991. The Samurai was supplemented in Canada and the United States markets in 1989 by the Suzuki Sidekick, which eventually replaced the Samurai in 1995. The rear seat was removed from 1994 and 1995 Samurai models with rear shoulder safety belts becoming mandatory, and the partial roll cage not having the required mounting provisions, unlike the larger Jeep Wrangler. Low sales and pending stricter safety legislation prompted the withdrawal of the Samurai from Canada and the United States markets after 1995.
Consumers Union lawsuit
An unfavorable 1988 review of the Samurai in Consumer Reports for being unsafe and prone to rollovers led to a controversial lawsuit.
The SJ413/Samurai had a longer history in the rest of the world. Australian built JA51s were sold as either Suzuki Sierra or Holden Drover, while those built in Thailand are called Suzuki Caribbean. The Caribbean has also been available as the "Caribbean Sporty", a unique LWB double cab pickup.
Due to various trade obstacles for Japanese cars, Spanish Santana Motors (in addition to the SJ410) began local production of the SJ413 in 1986. The Santana built SJs had softer springs for an improved on-road ride, color coordinated interiors with cloth seats and carpeted floors, all to broaden appeal to those who did not intend to off-road the vehicle. In 1989 it received some optical as well as chassis updates and received the "Samurai" nameplate. Santana built Samurais did not benefit from the updated coil sprung chassis introduced in 1998, instead receiving a facelift (new grille, more rounded bumpers) specific to European and neighboring markets. Around the same time, Santana also developed a version which used PSA's XUD 9 1.9-litre turbodiesel, producing 63 hp. Top speed was 130 km/h. Spanish Samurai production ended in 2003.
The Samurai was sold in Colombia and Venezuela as Chevrolet Samurai, assembled in Bogotá, Colombia by General Motors Colmotores. In other South American markets (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay) it was sold as the Suzuki Samurai. Long wheelbase models were not offered in the Mercosur.
In Asia the SJ/Samurai was sold under a few different names. In Thailand it was called the Suzuki Caribbean. The Thai market also received a special version called the "Suzuki Caribbean Sporty", a pickup with an extended cab with a small rear seat best suited for occasional use.
The SJ410 was also assembled in Indonesia, where it was marketed with different names. The original version is marketed as Jimny, continuing the previous LJ Jimny. The canvas soft-top model was marketed as Sierra. In the late 1980s, Suzuki introduced 4x2 version as the Katana. Later Katanas & Jimnys received square headlights. Jimny production was stopped in 1991, while Katana remains in production until today. The Katana was also, surprisingly, used as a basis for an Indonesian-built, 1930s' style kit-car called the Marvia Classic. In 2005, Suzuki introduced SJ413 Caribian spacecab pickup, which was imported from Thailand.
High altitude world record
On April 21, 2007, the Chilean duo of Gonzalo Bravo and Eduardo Canales drove their modified Suzuki Samurai (SJ413) up Ojos del Salado, past the previous record set by a Jeep at 6,646 meters (21,804 ft), setting a new record for the highest altitude attained by a four-wheeled vehicle at 6,688 meters (21,942 ft).
The Samurai in question benefitted from wheel, tire, and suspension changes, and a supercharged G16A 4-cylinder underhood. It was the third attempt for the two man team, after encountering weather difficulties on the first attempt and an engine fire in the second. The previous record holder's team led by Matthias Jeschke driving a Jeep Wrangler, left a sign reading "Jeep Parking Only: All others don't make it up here anyway". The Chilean team found the sign, blown down by strong winds, and brought it back to civilization as a souvenir.
This record was duly certified by the Guinness World Record in July 2007.
In January 1986 the JA71, a four-stroke, turbocharged and fuel-injected (F5A) 543 cc three-cylinder engine was introduced to complement the two-stroke SJ30. It used the upgraded interior from the Jimny 1300, which was simultaneously introduced to the SJ30. Power was 42 PS (31 kW), although this was increased to 52 PS (38 kW) in a November 1987 facelift by adding an intercooler. A non-intercooled, 38 PS (28 kW) engine was offered in the lowest spec Van version. At the same time, a glassed high-roof version ("Panoramic Roof") was added.