MARCH 2024: 1979 SUZUKI LJ81—THE SUZUKI GUY COMES THROUGH IN THIS RESCUE MISSION

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Suzuki built some classic 4×4 vehicles back in the late 70s.

They were smaller than a Jeep, but they could handle anything when owners put them through the rocks, mud, and heavy bush of uncharted paths.

Jerry Sutherland

Andy Kadyk is a huge fan of these little off-road vehicles. He’s owned them for years—long before the recent spike in values. Andy learned everything he could about these pint-sized 4×4 trucks, so he’s known in the Suzuki world as the ‘Suzuki Guy’. Andy explained how after 30 years, he’d “run into every problem”. He’s self-taught but Andy said he’s solved problems with Suzukis that experienced auto techs couldn’t solve. 

He’s earned that nickname because he’s rebuilt a fleet of Suzukis over the years. In most cases, he’s not only rebuilt them—he’s improved them.

That’s the case with this Suzuki LJ81 pickup. He found the truck in less than mint condition. Andy said it “didn’t have a motor, and the body needed a little work”, so he “built it from scratch”.           

Andy knows these trucks inside and out and he knew the stock motor—even if it was still there—was a little under-powered. He found a donor motor with more horsepower and plunked it into his LJ81, because he knew that strategy was the correct one. Andy’s years of immersion in the Suzuki world taught him well.

The body had a few sins, so Andy had it painted, plus he redid the interior—complete with custom door panels with the Suzuki logo. These little trucks were built for the bush, so Andy explained how they had a roll bar built into places like the dash. Suzukis don’t look heavy-duty, but once you examine the engineering behind Suzuki 4×4 trucks, you can see how they were built for the rough terrain.

Andy added a dump box to the truck bed because this is a working vehicle. He used electric trailer hitch jack motors to turn his Suzuki into a mini dump truck. He’s put the system to the test because he’s hauled gravel with the Suzuki. Again, this is a working vehicle.  

Suzuki guys will spot the truck’s mirrors because they’re not stock—they’re from a Dodge Raider. Andy liked the look and the function of the donor mirrors. The Suzuki Guy knows his stuff.

Andy built the truck for the bush, so it has seen some rough roads under his watch. He’s backed off on trips into the wild because he thinks his Suzuki is “too nice for the bush”, although it still hauls stuff. He has another Suzuki he uses for bush duty.

The little truck is surprisingly fast on the open road. Andy runs it around 50-55 miles per hour on the highway–so while it’s not going to challenge a new Vette, it won’t be like an old tractor on most roads.

The Suzukis are spiking in value, so Andy said he “gets asked to sell it two or three times a week”.   That won’t happen because Andy is really attached to the little truck.

Not only that—he’s the ‘Suzuki Guy’ so he knows what he put in the truck and what he gets out of it in fun value.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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