Curtis’ Suzuki Samurai

Having owned a few Suzuki Samurai’s and a Sidekick in the past, Curtis decided the approach he would take with this Suzuki Samurai would be a little different.

Instead of taking the easy route most of us would take, and swiping their credit card at every occasion to have ready-to-install parts delivered to our doorsteps, Curtis has built everything he possibly he can at home with the most minimalist set of tools.

When you walk into Curtis’ garage, you won’t see any fancy tools from box trucks or big box stores, instead you’ll see tools from Harbor Freight or eBay, tools that most budget wheelers can easily afford.

Some Assembly Required

Curtis originally picked up his red 1986 Suzuki Samurai in 2012, at the time it had original 59,000 miles, and was in about 59,000 pieces. From the history Curtis tells us, the original owner blew a head gasket in 2001 and never got around to fully fixing it. When Curtis picked up the samurai, all the pieces were there, including a new head, but according to Curtis “some assembly was required”.

First Mods

Being a veteran off-roader, Curtis flew by all the rookie mistakes most of us make when it comes to the first set of mods. Instead, the first set of mods Curtis made to his Suzuki Samurai were installing lifted springs, heavy duty shackles, a spool in the rear of the samurai, making front and rear bumpers, building some sliders and diff protection. All the things you need if your samurai is going to spend a good amount of it’s life off the beaten path.

Current Set of Mods

Over the last eight years, Curtis has made significant improvements to his Samurai, but it still looks almost the same as the day he bought it, minus the Arizona pin-striping and body work done by gently letting boulders massage it.

Rear Suspension

Jeep YJ springs mounted spring under using DIY mounting plates and shackles. 3″ lift over stock height.

Front Suspension

My own custom radius arms with coils from the rear of a 2 door Tracker, 3″ lift over stock height.


7.5R16 bias ply mud tires, Bluestars they are 32″ tall and 7″ wide…pizza cutters.


16″ stock steel Vitara rims

Front Axle

Samurai stock gears, chromoly axles “Fozzy” locker

Rear Axle

Samurai stock gears with a spartan locker

Front Bumper

My own custom plate bumper

Rear Bumper & Tire Carrier

My own custom rear bumper, no full size spare carried.


Harbor Freight 5,000 lb winch


Original 1.3L with Toyota 3K carburetor


Stock Samurai

Transfer Case

6.5:1, ZOR Twin Sticks w/boots, shaved Kong cradle.


Electric power steering from a Nissan Versa

Armor & Protection

DIY belly skidplate, differential caps. DIY roll cage tied to frame.

Rock Rails

My own custom rock sliders 3″ x 1/4″ square tube cut lengthwise and mounted to frame.


Some sort of cassette radio, mount for tablet. extra power ports, second fuse box.


Dash mounted 60 watt race radio


LED headlights and taillights.


On board air compressor (Harbor Freight), DIY windshield fold down hinges, “unbreakable” chrome steel drivers side mirror, additional fender trimming to clear tires, disregard for body damage.

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