1987 Suzuki Samurai Unfiltered Buddy Review: Can It Actually Make 60 MPH?

We’ll give you three guesses as to whether it will actually hit 60.

Our long-term 1987 Suzuki Samurai — one of the newest additions to the TFLcar fleet — isn’t exactly a speed machine. But you already knew that. Whereas most SUVs of the period made progress by way of a large V6 engine or even a V8, Suzuki’s little off-roader packs a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, and a tiny one at that. Just a 1.3-liter displacement is all there is to shuffle the small (but light) Samurai down the road.

It may not have a lot of might, but it is light. Tipping the scales at just over 2,000 pounds, the Suzuki doesn’t have much in the way of features to weigh it down. It does have four-wheel drive with low-range. But there are no locking differentials, no airbags, no power windows and no power steering. It’s as basic as you like, but that is what endears it to enthusiasts as a light, capable off-road car.

Suzuki Samurai
The Suzuki Samurai is certainly charming, but it isn’t exactly fast. [Photo: TFLcar]

A hint of what’s to come

When it was new, the 1987 Suzuki Samurai produced 63 horsepower in the North American market. So what happens when we take two stout guys — Nathan and Mike in this case — and go for a quick spin in the Samurai? Along the way, they conduct a noise test, evaluate the ride, and do a 0-60 run outside our headquarters in Boulder, Colorado?

Wait, a 0-60 run in a tiny off-roader with a tiny engine? We were wondering (all right, not really wondering…we already knew) whether the Suzuki would actually hit 60 mph with two presenters and a camera man on board. Again, the Suzuki Samurai is a light car and it does have a snappy five-speed manual transmission. However, it had just 63 horsepower when it was new, and that was 32 years ago.

Now, when you factor in age and altitude, it’s likely the Suzuki manages much less power than even that figure. Check out the video to see how it handles a quick sprint onto the highway. It’s only a taster for a much larger challenge to come for the Suzuki Samurai, so stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates!