CC Capsule: 1979 Suzuki Jimny Pickup (LJ80/SJ20) – Toy Truck

Suzuki Truck 001 1200

This micro-truck slays me. It’s just so damn cute and toy-like, my desire to take it home and put it in my playroom is mighty powerful. Have you ever seen anything like it before? I didn’t think so; I never had. But then it’s not exactly a vehicle that was ever sold on the US mainland. No, it’s from the North Pole, where Santa’s elves drive a fleet of them between the factories and warehouses. And occasionally a very lucky boy or girl gets one sent their way. Wish it had been me.

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You’re going to be spared a lengthy CC today, because we’ve covered aspects of this truck before here. The short story is that this baby truck is a pick up version of the Suzuki Jimny SJ 20/LJ80, which was the final iteration of the first Suzuki 4×4, which had its roots a a vehicle called the HopeStar ON360, that Suzuki bought in 1968. That became the Suzuki LJ10, the first of a long line of Suzuki mini-4x4s.

Suzuki Truck 010 800

Those early Suzukis were built to the Japanese kei-car standards, and had a 360 cc 2-stroke twin. Eventually, larger two-strokes (539 cc) were on tap, but in 1977 a slightly enlarged SJ20 featured the first four stroke four cylinder engine, an 800cc unit with some 41 hp. That’s what’s most likely in this truck.

Suzuki Truck 009 1200

This particular truck sports DoD stickers from 1979, which means it had a pass to be driven on the base, not that it was actually owned by the military. Although it certainly would have made a perfect parts runner on an Air Force base or the like. The color is right even.

Suzuki Truck 007 1200

The likely explanation to this truck’s existence is that it was originally sold in either Hawaii, Guam, or Puerto Rico, where Suzukis were distributed and sold back then, and so it presumably met the US vehicle requirements of that time. Or not. With vehicles like this, it’s not always possible to be 100% certain, unless one can look at their manufacturer’s plate.

Suzuki LJ80_Strand_800

The little LJ two stroke Suzukis were quite fondly adopted as little off-road toys in Germany, introducing a low-cost option to getting the tires dirty in that country. And of course, the “baby Jeep” has become almost a global icon, being produced in other countries and in various configurations. We of course are familiar with the later Samurai versions, but the Suzuki had spread the LJ and SJ around the world before it finally found a home here in the land of the the one and only Jeep.

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The whole family of these little Suzukis are extremely simple but durable and tough little work horses. I would love to have this one as a hardware store parts runner. But someone was more deserving, it seems.


Related CC reading:

Suzuki SJ Farm Worker: The Little Truck That Could

1980 Suzuki Jimny LJ80