At $2,900, Is This Mopar 440-Powered 1986 Suzuki Samurai A Project With Potential?

Nice Price or No Dice: 1986 Suzuki Samurai Project
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

If you’ve ever looked at a Suzuki Samurai and puzzled over whether the tiny truck could hold a 440-cube V8, today’s Nice Price or No Dice project truck is the answer you’re desperately seeking. Could its price be equally desperate? Let’s find out.

With the cancellation of the Smart Fortwo in 2019, the Porsche 911 reigns as the only gas-powered car with a rear-mounted engine sold in the U.S. This has been a hallmark of the model for decades and offers a direct connection between the car and company founder, Ferdinand Porsche. There’s still plenty of appeal to the 911, a fact apparent by continued demand for the car and the healthy prices it enjoys in the pre-owned market.

We looked at one such car yesterday, a 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera S that has seen a lot of use — 156,000 miles worth — but not an excess of wear and tear from those miles. A solid description in the ad sealed the deal, and at just $22,900, the car earned itself a respectable 57 percent Nice Price win.

Advertisement

In 1942, J. Robert Oppenheimer was working as a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley when he was selected by the U.S. government to lead the Manhattan Project. This was a clandestine wartime operation that culminated in the creation of the first workable atomic bomb. Seeing the destructive power of his creation, Oppenheimer famously quoted — or misquoted, depending on whom you ask — the Bhagavad-Gita, intoning “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

A similar thought may have gone through the mind of the creator of today’s Mopar 440-powered 1986 Suzuki Samurai.

undefined
Photo: Craigslist

During its production run, the Suzuki Samurai was accused of having a higher than average likelihood of rollover during emergency course corrections. That reputation was amplified by a Consumer Reports investigation that concluded the car could flip in less aggressive driving situations as well. Hell, if you look at the Samurai’s narrow track and obvious tall center of gravity, you’d likely expect it to go belly up if someone so much as farts on it.

Advertisement

That’s all a moot point with this project Samurai, however, since the big-inch Mopar V8 stands a better chance of doing you in. It should also be noted that the car may have actually rolled at least once already. That’s based on the evidence seen on the passenger-side roof and misaligned door. Other indicators include a lack of rear glass and a missing hatch. This is obviously not the car you would choose to ply your way through the unseasonably cold and snowy weather the South is currently experiencing.

undefined
Photo: Craigslist
Advertisement

Along with the big-block V8, the Samurai also sports a Mopar automatic — most likely a three-speed TorqueFlite of some type — and a rear axle out of a Chevy S-10 pickup. The gas tank has been replaced with a deck-mounted fuel cell, and that takes advantage of the missing rear hatch by routing the breather out the opening. The car sports new wheels and tires, which dress it up appreciably. The locking front hubs are present, but the brief ad doesn’t mention whether the front axle is still hooked up or not. With that replacement transmission, it seems unlikely.

undefined
Photo: Craigslist
Advertisement

The interior is sparsely fitted, with just a pair of buckets, a trio of gauges mounted to the dash and what is quite possibly a structural bungee cord hooked between the back windows. The new fuel cell takes up the rest of the limited space.

There’s no mention from the seller as to whether the engine runs or if the car moves under its own power. The install does look complete, and there’s a cooling system and a battery so there’s no obvious reason for it not to. The ad does recommend towing the Suzuki to its new front yard home, owing to a lack of exhaust pipes and mufflers. While it doesn’t really matter, the ad also notes the mileage at 80,100 and says the car has a clean title — despite the wrecking-yard paint pen markings on each and every body panel.

Advertisement
undefined
Photo: Craigslist

All this could be yours for $2,900. Now, before you register your vote I want you to consider just how fun this car would be in its present state. Cruising into your local Cars and Coffee would certainly turn heads. Reactions would likely range from begrudging appreciation to abject disgust, and who wouldn’t what to be the cause of that panoply of emotions?

Advertisement

What do you think, is this half-finished Frankenstein Suzuki worth that $2,900 asking as it sits? Or, is that price tag an even sketchier ask than the car itself?

You decide!

Advertisement

Los Angeles Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

jimal
Ted Danson's Perfect Hair

$2,900 for a piece of Roadkill history? Sure. Just not this one.

Must me thinning out the fleet. The ad almost reads like it was written by Freiberger.