Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Thoughts on my Dad's New (Old) 1995 Suzuki Samurai

My dad recently purchased a used 1995 Suzuki Samurai. He's planning to replace our 1993 Toyota Lite Ace with it, since the Lite Ace can't really be used to travel to my folks' small farm.
New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
So I come home and this is what welcomes me.
So what is the Suzuki Samurai? According to Wikipedia, the Samurai is actually a second generation Suzuki Jimny. It also says that the Samurai was involved in a controversy about it being prone to rollovers. I do remember hearing about that in high school. Since the internet wasn't that common during that time, I had no way to verify how true this was.

I haven't gotten around to driving it, so I'll just give you a quick review of my initial thoughts on this 1995 Suzuki Samurai.

Let's start off with the good points. First of all, it's a very analog car. It's not as high tech as my Rav4. Why is this good? Well, I'm guessing it means it isn't that hard to find problems with the car. Also, I'm hoping a simple car means less minor things to eventually break down. No power windows means no chance of needing to replace the power window motor.

New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
It's taller than my Rav4, but narrower too. Also, more pronounced fender flares.
Next, let us look at the size. From the photo above you can see it is taller than the Rav4, but it is considerably narrower. It has (according to Wikipedia) a length of about 4,010mm, width of around 1,535mm, and a height of roughly 1,840mm. Compare the width of 1,525mm versus my Rav's 1,735mm and you can see how this Samurai will fit a lot better in today's parking spaces.

New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
You switch it from the front wheels.
Then there's also the four-wheel drive. You can switch the car to four-wheel drive when needed, though I still don't know yet how to do this. This feature is very handy when dad does bring this to their farm, specially when the rainy season hits.

Finally there's the Samurai's looks and practicality. It's so simple, so analog, that I cannot help but like it. Also, my dad tell me you can remove the white roof and convert it to a pick-up. The front windshield can fold down. It's a very practical ride. I just don't know yet if you can remove the roof and fold the window, but the feature is there.

Not everything is great about the Samurai. There are some issues my Dad and I have seen. For example, the reverse light turns on when you step on the brakes, but it doesn't when you put it in reverse. There's also a small issue of the low-beam / high-beam not functioning as indicated. According to my dad it's on high-beam when the switch is on low, and low beam when switched to high.

There's also an issue with the engine or the alternator. Whenever I turned on the headlights or the fog lamps, the engine would sound strained. I'm hoping if you upgrade the alternator this issue would be fixed.

Another possible concern for me is spare parts. While it isn't as high tech as today's cars, I have no idea how available spare parts are for this car. I also don't know if you can still get OEM parts or replacement parts, plus how reliable those spare parts are.

The Samurai has manual transmission and no power steering. Yes, this is a con for me. I've gotten babied by the Rav4, who has power steering and an automatic transmission. While this may not be an issue on paved roads, I don't know how hard it will be to steer the Samurai in rough, muddy roads.

Now that I've said my pros and cons, it's time for me to discuss what mods I would do to this Samurai if I had the funds and if this was mine. Let's start with the interior.

New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
This is the interior.
I'd probably have the front seats either replaced or re-upholstered. I do know that this is a utilitarian vehicle, but I'd still want to try and make the passengers comfortable. The rear bench seats I would probably replace with a more modern, 60:40 rear folding seats that can fit inside the Samurai.
New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
The cockpit.
As for the cockpit, I'd replace the steering wheel with an aftermarket steering wheel. The pedals would be replaced with newer pedals, and I'd probably have a professional remove the dashboard to clean the inside and replace the bulbs. Maybe even put in new gauges if possible. I'd also put in new floor mats.

I'd also try to upgrade the sound system. I'd upgrade the head unit, the speakers, and maybe add some tweeters. Just because it's a utilitarian car, it doesn't mean you can't have good sounds. Actually the Samurai's current stereo is already pretty modern, so I'd probably just upgrade the speakers.
New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
The wipers seem too short for me.
I'd replace the front and rear windshield wipers with Bosch Aero Twins. Yes, I am very specific with the brand and model of wiper. I have the same wipers on my Rav4 and I am very happy with their performance in the rain.

As for rims, I'd replace them if it the four-wheel drive switch will fit through the center hole. I'd go for something a bit more unique to make the Samurai a bit more personal.

I'd replace the brake lines, brake rotors, brake pads, drum brakes, and drum shoes. It is very important to be able to stop a vehicle, so I'd make sure my brakes are 100% okay.

Finally, I'd make sure all the mechanical and electrical components are in good condition. I'd replace all fluids with new fluids, and maybe even try to clean the engine with an engine flush. Basically I'd make sure everything is as reliable as possible.
New (Old) Suzuki Samurai
Would I trade my Rav4 for this Suzuki Samurai?
Funny story, when I was in high school my folks were considering getting a Suzuki Samurai as our secondary car that would eventually be passed on to me. They decided to get a Mazda 323 Familia (that turned out to be a lemon, but that's another story) because of the rollover rumors. And now, nearly twenty years later, we finally get a Suzuki Samurai. The circle is complete.

So there you have it. My thoughts on the Suzuki Samurai. It's so simple that I like it. It's so practical that I seem impressed. And it's so ready for mods I wish I had one myself. However, would I trade my Rav4 for a similar Suzuki Samurai and cash to modify it? No. Would I get a Suzuki Samurai as a secondary car to the Rav4? If I had the money, yes.


Monday, February 16, 2015


I've sort of discovered that my body needs around six hours of sleep at night.

I'm not saying that's what I need for the whole day, since I usually take a nap during my lunch break. I'm just saying even if my alarms are turned off I usually wake up after six hours of sleep.

It's funny. A few weeks ago I slept for about three hours. I'll admit I couldn't get enough sleep because I was thinking too much about work related stuff. In short, I was stressed out. But that's not the story.

So I spent most of the day in a drained state. I tried to take a nap every break, and was able to survive the day. I decided that I would sleep early, maybe a little past 8pm.

As a quick aside, I usually sleep around 10pm and wake up around 4:30am. My wife and I prefer leaving for work early (5:30am) so we can avoid traffic.

Anyway I fall asleep around 8:30pm. It was a deep, tired sleep. Then I wake up around 3am. Wide awake. Refreshed. And still about one-and-a-half hours too early. And try as I might, I could not go back to sleep.

The only solution to that problem was to sleep my usual time, and I did. And I woke up at my usual 4:30am.

So yes, I only need around six hours of sleep a night. Then I insert a couple of naps during the day. I guess that's how my body works for now.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

The Classic Volkswagen Beetle

No matter how many dream cars I write about, in the end everything always, always ends up right back to the classic Volkswagen Beetle.

It could be because it would be the most affordable and the easiest to obtain. Parts might be hard to come by, but with the number of automotive surplus stores in the Metro Manila area, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find the right parts.

But why the Beetle? Considering I hated it as a child, I don't know either. Maybe it's a symbol of how I should live my life. How can I see this? Let's just say I guess it's about the destination. It's about having a blast getting to where you want to go and enjoying the trip.

I don't know how true that applies now, but whenever I dream of going on long road trips around Luzon I always imagine it being done inside a classic Beetle (converted to a Baja Bug, but still). Cruising along at a decent pace, where you can still enjoy the scenery as you go by. I guess this is as romantic as I can get.