The Suzuki Samurai came from a legacy that has a long successful heritage. It came from the L series which spawned the S series which has lorded over the 4X4 industry. Officially known at first as the SJ413, the Suzuki Samurai was first created in 1983 in Japan. It was intended to be the larger version of the highly successful SJ410, thus the long wheelbase SJ was born. Offered as a 4 or 6 seat convertible, with a raised-roof hardtop and 3 different body styles of pickup, Suzuki now had a vehicle that could go off-roading and still provide small truck functionality and capabilities.
The Suzuki Samurai's popularity rose in leaps and bounds, due to its performance, durability, reliability and its price. Suzuki had to build additional factories to augment to call for more Samurai's all over the world and even to the places with the harshest environments. Sadly at that time, they weren't sold yet in the U.S., but they were some already who had been imported in by certain individuals and its popularity is also rising in American shores. By 1985, a 1986 model was released officially in the U.S., oddly enough though; only short wheelbase convertibles and hardtops were brought in. The Samurai sported a 66 horsepower 1.3-liter engine which came only with a 5-speed manual transmission. An on-demand, part-time 4WD system was standard on all models and trims. The first year gave record setting sales for Suzuki, more than 47,000 units per sold, Not only was it the top-selling convertible in the United States, but it also captured the best first-year sales record of any Japanese car company.
With the success of the Volkswagen beetle in mind, Suzuki decided not to change the overall appearance of the Samurai and just add new features every year and just make minor detail changes to keep it abreast with changing times. In 1989 the hard top version met its demise due to poor sales and only the convertible was left behind. By 1990 a significant change was done, there was the big switch from carburetion to fuel injection, an additional of two horsepower in the engine and improved on and off- road drivability. For 1991, two new two-wheel-drive models were introduced, the JA and the JS trims. The JA was offered without a top or rear seat, while the JS added a folding soft top and 2-place rear seat. The next year though the JS was dropped leaving behind only the two-wheel drive JA and the four-wheel drive JL models. By 1995 the last of the Samurais have been brought out and there ended their 9 year run in the U.S. The Suzuki Sidekick Sport was brought in to ease the pain and relieved the Samurai from duty.