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My First Car – the Suzuki Sj413

Electric Scooters

I remember passing my driving test in Brighton, England when i was just 17 years old. Being by the beach I had always dreamed of owning a convertible so that I could cruise along the sea front with the top down. My dream led me to the Suzuki Sj413 Samurai.

I Found “The One”

I always liked the idea of being high up while driving so that I could have a better view of the road in front of me; that’s what drew me to mini jeeps like the Suzuki; that, and looking cool of course. They were cheap to buy and relatively cheap to insure. After looking around for a while, I finally found “the one.” It was a 1987 Suzuki Samurai, light blue, with a white soft top. It had 123,000 miles on the clock, and it was sharp. It was a chick magnet for sure.

The 1987 models had just been revamped and had new interiors. I remember the dashboard being very square, and I remember there being nothing but plastic. In reality it was garbage, and I remember thinking to myself, if they just revamped the interiors for this year, then what where they like before?

Creature Comforts

There are absolutely no luxuries to talk about on this car. Take a basic car model, and then make it even more basic, then you are on the level of the Samurai. No stereo, a heater, 2 air vents, and basic wiper controls and that was it. As for storage space, it was nonexistent. You had a little space behind the rear seats that is approximately half a foot wide and about 4 foot long, so you can store the hood, and then there were some pockets on the door and then the glove box. The seats were covered in vinyl and were very uncomfortable, but who cares; I was going to look cool in my jeep. The seats did not offer any kind of support at all.

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This Was One Thirsty Car

Today I am very conscious about mpg; good job I was not concerned back then. In my Suzuki I was getting about 16MPG on the interstate (or motorway as we call it in England) and it would get 13mpg in town. Put the car into 4Wd and the car would drink gas like crazy, so using 4WD was not an option. Needless to say, with gas prices being crazy high in England, I was always flat broke trying to look cool, because of the car’s appetite for gas.

Top Down, Wind in Your Hair

I bought the Suzuki so that I could take the top off and act real cool around town, especially while driving along the beach. The top was held down by a series of poppers, straps and zippers. The top, came off easily and could be stored behind the back seats.

This is more like it: hood down, wind in your hair, living the dream, and then comes the rain! Oh boy do you have problems when that happens! Trying to get the hood back on is not easy at all and at the best of times takes at least 5 minutes, so you can imagine what it is like when it is raining! Trying to get the hood down in the runners, popping the poppers and doing up the zips in the rain, was a nightmare. Needless to say, once you got the hood on and you got back in the car, it was like driving around in an aquarium.

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The Ride

This has got to be the most uncomfortable car I have ever driven in my life. If you have had fillings done before, and you get in this car and drive around, you will need them done again, because they will be shaken out! Every little bump, every little stone you hit sends tremors through the car! It’s like being in an earthquake! In my eyes it was a small price to pay for being cool though.

The Little Engine That Couldn’t

There were 2 engine options available. There was a 1.0 and a 1.3. I am glad I did not get the 1.0. I took one for a test drive and it felt like I was going backwards, even the old people on their little electric scooters were over- taking me. The 1.3 is slightly better, but not by much! There is a bunch of power in first and second, but then nothing. I guarantee there would be higher power output from a whoopee cushion. On the Motorways the car would struggle to reach 70 mph, and when it did the engine was screaming so loud it sounded like it was going to explode.

I was young, and I wanted a cool car I could pose in. As much as I hated that Suzuki, I look back and realize how much I loved it at the same time. It was my first car; it accompanied me on many firsts in my life and I will always remember it as the car I loved to hate.