The occasionally sane group of people known as Car Twitter elevated the new Suzuki Jimny to superstar status recently, as soon as it debuted in its home market of Japan. Immediately, it received the Forbidden Fruit Award, followed by the Why Can’t We Have blue ribbon. It’s not coming here, though, and that’s really all there is to it.
But don’t lose hope, because today we take a look at a couple examples of the old Suzuki Jimny â€” which you can buy in America right now.
Throughout its history, Suzuki didn’t have any experience with four-wheel drive cars â€” so it bought some. Suzuki acquired the Hope Motor Company in 1968. The small manufacturer produced 15 different tiny off-road vehicles, with all variants called HopeStar ON360.
After purchasing the company, Suzuki put a new body on top of the ON360 and swapped out the Mitsubishi engine for a Suzuki two-stroke unit. Within engine and size regulation, the new three-seat LJ10 received a kei car classification (making it affordable to the masses.) The new model was ready in 1970, and the LJ10 Jimny became the first four-wheel-drive kei car to go into mass production.
An updated Jimny debuted for 1972 (LJ20), with revised styling and new two-cylinder, 28-horsepower water-cooled engine. This generation was the first available in left-hand drive, as Suzuki prepared for Jimny distribution outside its home market. Also new, the Hard Top version provided real doors and a roof, where coverings previously were of the fabric variety.
The first generation lasted through 1980, bowing out for an all-new version in 1981. Americans would come to know this Jimny as the Samurai. Sold widely around the world, the boxy new SUV was produced in several factories in Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.
After 18 years of second-gen production, a third generation debuted in 1998. Jimny the third wore Suzuki, Chevrolet, or Mazda badging, dependent upon its point of sale. The new model sported softer Nineties styling that maintained a strong connection to its predecessor. Generation three lasted a full 21 years, until 2018 heralded a new Jimny to much fanfare. Suzuki even brought one to the United States for World Car of the Year testing.
Today’s Rare Rides hail from the 1972 and 1974 model years, meaning they’re members of the LJ20 class. Suzuki never brought them to the United States, but another company had a bright idea at the time. In the early Seventies, the International Equipment Company imported them for sale alongside farm equipment and ATVs. Both of today’s Hard Tops have the 28-horsepower engine and four-speed manual found in all period Jimnys.
While the red example from 1972 is a right-hand drive model, the yellow 1974 is a left-hand version. The pair is yours for $6,500.