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Suzuki SJ Restoration - The Story

  • 15-04-2012 2:45pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    Hi all, like most vintage and classic enthusiasts I’ve got a project or two going at the moment, so I thought I would share with you my progress as and when it happens. People seem to like stories on here and I’m sure I could do with some advice and input from yee guys too.

    I like taking pictures also, so I might as well share them, I know people around here like pictures.

    Some of you on here may remember that I found this Suzuki SJ 410 on a farm a few years back, and the owner let me have it for free :D

    DSCF1587.jpg

    I got it home, got it running and driving, cleaned it up a bit, but never did much with it. As anyone familiar with these little jeeps will know, the bodies rust up like no tomorrow, which was definitely the case with mine :mad:

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    I always loved these little jeeps (a jeep is what I call all 4x4s, that’s what I say and I won't change) cool:) and wanted to restore it to have it for vintage use. Most of these are turned into off roaders, abused for a year or two and then scrapped, I wanted a nice one. The thing holding me back was the appalling state of the body, which was totally beyond redemption, Which meant the little SJ was left sitting quietly in the corner of the yard, and used only occasionally around the house for towing a trailer and that.

    A few months back this one appeared on DoneDeal in Kerry, and I thought it would be the ideal parts donor for my one

    Full-9800305.jpg

    I got it for just €600 which was a bargain, as it was perfectly original in every way, seemed as if it had been well looked after and had a decentish body, with repairable rust! Naas to Ballybunion and back was a long drive in one day but worth it

    DSCF6986.jpg


    So to the restoration itself, I had all the bits I needed, and a decent place to work, so I just had to take the plunge and get to work, I had been putting it off as I knew that when I started there was no going back, I was going to temporarily ruin two good SJs.

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    A Friday evening saw the body come off without too much hassle, it was only then that I discovered the true extent of the rot that was actually in it, not that it was an issue as I won’t be using this body anyway.

    Photo0298.jpg

    I always give people three pieces of advice when they are considering restoring something, It’s going to cost more than you think it will, it will take longer than you think it will and it will be rustier that you think it is! Those rules always seem to hold true!

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    I removed the engine, gearbox, axels etc… from the chassis to leave it completely bare. A good bit of work also went into getting out any sheared off bolts in captive nuts. There were only two tiny areas of rot on that chassis, on the mid rear body mounts. I just cut it out, made a new piece and MIG welded it in, not a problem!

    DSCF7070.jpg

    I have just sent off the chassis for sandblasting and powder coating, as I think it’s a better job than any paint will be and under sealer or shutz just seems to attract dirt.

    DSCF7068.jpg

    Thats all for the moment, I'll post back with more info and pics as it happens

    And if anybody has any suggestions as to where I can get my body glass blasted,let me know


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 551 trevorbrady


    "love for the unloved" :D

    I really like to see something unusual getting some positive attention. The size comparison between the little SJ and the Land Cruiser is great, you forget how tiny these things are!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    "love for the unloved" :D

    Yea, they aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they had and have a huge following in the UK. Very few ever at vintage shows or that, and everyone has a Cortina, or an MG or what have you.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,809 ✭✭✭ Stained Class


    I always like looking at this sort of thing, no matter what the car is.

    There's always some new trick to learn in restoration.

    Nice workshop too by the way.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,884 101sean


    You're lucky friends of mine didn't find any of them, would have ended up with roll cage, big tyres and not a straight panel!

    This what a Zook looks like upside down :rolleyes:

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    How to drown a Zook
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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,884 101sean


    Should have said it's good to see at least one being restored to original! :D

    I'd seriously consider galvanising rather than powder coating a chassis.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    101sean wrote: »
    I'd seriously consider galvanising rather than powder coating a chassis.

    I did consider it, but I want it to look original and you can see the chassis at a glance standing beside it. I saw a few pre-war cars that had a powder coated chassis and the finish looked great.

    They are made of good stuff anyway, so I doubt rot will ever be an issue once its cared for.

    Those off road ones look good fun, I wouldn't actually mind one of them for messing with, but I want to save one at least, even if it takes 2 to do it :rolleyes:


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,884 101sean


    Fair enough, just I've seen some pretty poor powder coating.

    Most guys rebuilding Land Rovers on galvanised chassis in the UK paint them after, mainly as the galvanised finish makes them even more attractive to professional car thieves (Defenders are one of he most stolen vehicles)

    Even out of the box the SJs were great little off-roaders, bouncing and floating over stuff Land Rovers were fighting through.


  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    Progress has been a bit slow over the past two weeks, still waiting for the chassis to come back too.

    Have my green sj stripped to so I can get to work on the body. As with everything, it's a little rustier than it seemed at the start, which is to be expected.

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    I have decided to blast the body myself due to the cost of getting it done. I have a long term loan of a friends sand blaster and road compressor and I bought some fine crushed glass at a very reasonable price. It will be a handy set up for blasting all the other odds and ends too, and I can do them at my leisure. Need dryer weather to do it though, so it'll have to wait for a bit.

    I'm making a video series of it too on my youtube channel:

    Part 1


    Part 2


  • Registered Users Posts: 463 ✭✭ Testacalda


    Nice videos there, very interesting, good luck with the resto, nice to see something different being restored for once :rolleyes: Those jeeps had a huge following when they were on sale, in the UK anyway, but they are nearly all gone now, buggers for rot!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,069 ✭✭✭ Tzar Chasm


    What sort of condition is the chassis engine and running gear from the body donor in?

    I could be free you up some space if its any way salvagable


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  • Registered Users Posts: 296 ✭✭ El Kabong!


    Why are you taking a good one in order to restore the other one. What is so special about the brown one, or bad about the donor?


  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    El Kabong! wrote: »
    Why are you taking a good one in order to restore the other one. What is so special about the brown one, or bad about the donor?

    The engine in the donor one isn't so great, the chassis is not in as good of condition on the donor either and its on english reg.

    The brown one has an excellent chassis, engine and running gear, and its registered in my name with an irish reg, plus the brown means something to me, so I want to restore it, even if it takes a different body to do it, it will still retain its character and still mean something to me as it was given to be by an old friend as a present.


  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    Tzar Chasm wrote: »
    What sort of condition is the chassis engine and running gear from the body donor in?

    I could be free you up some space if its any way salvagable

    I'll keep everything until I'm done, might sell off the left overs after


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 536 ahal


    Nice work there ... a relative of mine had one in the late '80's, it was a lovely metallic blue with white wheels. I presume your brown one is the 'Rhino' edition judging by the decal on the rear. I always liked these, along with the other fairly rare one from the time ... the Daihatsu Fourtrack.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,794 Ded_Zebra


    I'm going to bump this thread, I hope that's ok with the mods :D

    I have owned a Samurai for the last few years, unfortunately it has got a bit worse for wear in terms of the body work (mechanically it's spot on :)).

    This summer I plan to do a bit of a restoration job on it. I have never done restoration work of any kind before, the plan is to learn as I go.
    I'am hoping to do as much of the work myself as is possible and I do have a friend who is a welder so he should be able to give me a dig out when I need it:).

    The main areas that are bad are the back corners, the sills and the drivers footwell. I'm aware that there is a lot of work to do and it will be difficult but I hope it'll be a bit of fun and I also hope I'll have something better at the end than what I started with:P.
    My main question that I have at the moment is about the availability of repair panels for these jeeps or do you have to start from flat steel and make the panels yourself?

    I should add that it's not a concourse job that I'm aiming for, I just want it to be road worthy again :)

    If you have any comments or advise/info fire away.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,290 ✭✭✭✭ Thargor


    Did you ever finish this project Mrfoxman?


  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    Thargor wrote: »
    Did you ever finish this project Mrfoxman?

    I have the chassis fully finished, axels and transfer box rebuilt, new brakes and brake lines, fuel system is in and steering is rebuilt too.

    Unfortunately I have very little free time recently, but hoping to get into the engine and gearbox around Christmas. Gearbox wont need much, but I might hone the cylinders and do the valves and stem oil seals, as well as a major service and TBK.

    Time.... if only I had more :pac:

    Edit: I forgot to mention that since I started the Suzuki, I started and finished the restoration of my 1930 Austin 7, so that would also probably account for the dismally slow progress!


  • Registered Users Posts: 813 Kevin_Herron


    I have the chassis fully finished, axels and transfer box rebuilt, new brakes and brake lines, fuel system is in and steering is rebuilt too.

    Unfortunately I have very little free time recently, but hoping to get into the engine and gearbox around Christmas. Gearbox wont need much, but I might hone the cylinders and do the valves and stem oil seals, as well as a major service and TBK.

    Time.... if only I had more :pac:

    Edit: I forgot to mention that since I started the Suzuki, I started and finished the restoration of my 1930 Austin 7, so that would also probably account for the dismally slow progress!

    I saw your Austin 7 on the Gordon Bennett in June.
    Lovely original Irish car.

    Your side screens are a great design considering the weather we had!


  • Registered Users Posts: 556 Carson10


    Nice restoration story :) cool little Suzuki Jeeps. Can I ask why you didn't just restore the better green condition one instead of restoring the brown one with worse rot?

    Best of luck.


  • Registered Users Posts: 463 ✭✭ Testacalda


    Carson10 wrote: »
    Nice restoration story :) cool little Suzuki Jeeps. Can I ask why you didn't just restore the better green condition one instead of restoring the brown one with worse rot?

    Best of luck.

    He is restoriing the brown one but using the body from the green one.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 576 MrFoxman360


    Sorry for digging up an old thread, but it's for good reason

    I haven't been doing any online updates in recent times, but I have been making progress on the Suzuki SJ restoration (among other things). The chassis is finished now, engine in, running, the whole lot.

    I'm going to bring it to the Terenure show tomorrow as the chassis and running gear without the body will make for an interesting exhibit on our stand. So if you are there and you see it, you'll know its mine!

    34813846284_351589bd24_b.jpg20170627_122044 by MrFoxman360, on Flickr

    Steering system is purely functional!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1 velonut53


    I am interested in the progress of your sj,I am very fond of these little jeeps, they are so simple and I love the look.I have two of them myself,a 1987 Santana and a 1986 japanese one.I had a 1990 samuri for four years that had been restored and had no intention of selling it but the santana came up in the north on ebay and it was so good I had to have it.I then done a deal with Marian the suzuki nut in kilkenny, he wanted the samuri as it was the first one he restored years ago.So now I have the santana for best and the 1986 410 as a running restoration. I am in the process of getting it ready for an nct.
    It will make a very nice classic too as it is a one owner vehicle and has no body damage and very little rust. It would be nice to meet and chat sometime I am in west wicklow so cant be that far from you .


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