The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

1990 Suzuki Carry – Little Big Rig

From the archives: RECOIL Magazine Issue 15, November/December 2014

Eat Your Heart Out, A-Team

Photography by: Troy Kruger

In this issue of RECOIL you're going to read a lot about vehicular necessity versus preference. The point being that none of us have unlimited budgets. In a perfect world, we'd love to outfit our bug-out vehicle with every piece of kit and performance upgrade imaginable. Since that isn't practical for all of us, we like to show you alternatives that may help spur some ideas you hadn't considered or just plain didn't know were possible. Some of you may even have fabrication skills to your credit. If that's the case, you may want to resist the temptation to buy all that great aftermarket stuff, and instead fire up the acetylene torch, pretend you're John Hannibal Smith, and customize something that'll fit your needs and financial constraints.

Take Tony Ashwill's Suzuki Carry, for instance. You may have already glanced at these photos and rolled your eyes. But before you write this vehicle off as some hopped-up truck that a custodian on a college campus would use, read on a bit further. Start thinking about a nationwide calamity, how you would react, and if your discretionary income will enable you to accomplish your pie-in-the-sky transportation plans.

While some may opt to get as far away as possible using standard highways, some others may choose to bug in and want something feasible to navigate narrow rural roadways common to the surrounding area — either to hunt, hide out, or reconnoiter for impending danger. Can this be accomplished with a full-size truck tipping the scales near 6,000 pounds even before being loaded down with people and supplies? While it may work on paper, when you think about the possibility of getting stuck or having roughly 12 mpg fuel consumption, bugging out may suddenly become bugging nearby.

While it may be small in stature, this rig still has a lot of the stuff a standard truck would have, but an ATV or side-by-side may not. Think four-wheel drive, a full cab, heater, and (although not on this particular truck) air conditioning. Because it has fully functional highway lights, depending on where you live, this truck may also qualify as street legal. So what was the impetus for this pint-sized hauler? As a Minnesota native, Tony would often go out on one of the many ATV-based roads with friends to camp, but be limited in range by the low fuel capacity of ATVs and side-by-sides. There'd also be times that one of the aforementioned vehicles would experience a flat tire or broken tie rod end and have to be towed out — not easily done by a standard vehicle or tow truck too large to fit down a narrow path.

1990-suzuki-carry-atv-hitch

So he started pondering what the ultimate off-road vehicle would be with a range that would enable him to stay out and about for a while, the space to pack up a bit of gear or extra passengers, and the power to possibly tow a friend's off-road vehicle back if it got stuck. Since a standard full-size truck was too big for many of these trails and didn't get the mileage he wanted, Tony began considering mini trucks. What he found came via a pair of mini-trucks — the Suzuki and a 1993 Daihatsu Hijet at a local dealer. He was offered a better price if he bought both, so he shelled out $7,500 and took possession. Since the Daihatsu had a few features he didn't care for, he made a few mods and quickly sold it. Now, onto the Suzuki.

With a background in metal fabrication and mechanics, Tony had the eye for engineering and requisite skills to make many of the modifications himself. Since aftermarket items for these kinds of trucks are limited at best, that worked out just fine. The entire roof rack, windshield guard, taillight guards, fender flares, skid plate, and bumper guards were all custom made by Tony. Due to the uneven weight distribution, Tony added .125-inch deck plate throughout the box and tailgate to strengthen it and make the rear a bit heavier.

Storage boxes were also added to the sides, one of which houses tools and controls for the front and rear winches, and the other a standard and auxiliary battery. Seats from a Kawasaki Teryx are mounted to a removable fixture that hovers above the box and attaches to the rack. An air compressor in the bed also serves to repair flats if need be. Numerous LED and HID lights mounted front and rear take care of illuminating the backcountry when out on patrol at night. He shod the whole thing in desert tan CARC paint, and covered the interior in MultiCam synthetic material to continue the military theme.

One of the most unusual features of the truck is a custom tow bar Tony built, in case the truck needs to serve as a mobile recovery vehicle. With a high/low transfer case and locking rear differential, this little beast has the juice to play some serious tug of war. Having drug a 1,200-pound Polaris RZR out of the sticks, this truck has proven it offers respectable payload that most people probably overlook. The tow bar can also be broken down and stored on the truck.

1990-suzuki-carry-interior-steering-wheel

The suspension features some custom tweaks to make it more off-road worthy and give it an additional 2 to 3 inches of lift. The control arms were boxed for extra torsional strength. Modified car shocks were added to the front and the stock coils replaced with rear coils from a Polaris RZR, adapted with custom mounting plates. The rear has springs that have been given additional leaves, and Tony fabbed up some custom shackles to increase the ride height and keep the weight of the box from rubbing on the rear tires.

Now for those wheels. As you may have suspected, they've been improved. The original aluminum wheels were swapped out for steel ones, modified to fit the 4x115mm bolt pattern. Since that left extra holes, Tony decided to have a bit of fun with it and created faux lugs, though only four of the eight actually fasten the wheels to the hubs. To give them a three-piece beadlock look, he cut ¼-inch steel rings to fit down inside the rim, with another ring set into the outer bead of the wheel. Twenty stud holes per rim were cut to give it the look he was after. One-inch spacers were added to keep the wheels from rubbing. And he didn't stop there. He welded caps to pieces of pipe, which were in turn welded to the spacers to give it a full-floating axle look. Additional studs were added to the caps to add some more oomph to the badass appearance. Definitely works of art.

You may be wondering about parts for these kinds of vehicles. Internet and mail order are no problem, but when going to your local parts store, don't expect to find much more than the standard replacement items readily available: coolant, spark plugs, oil, and filter. That, and being right-hand drive with a manual transmission, seems to be the only drawbacks of this truck. But we must say they don't really feel like deal breakers in the grand scheme of things.

We hope we got your creativity fired up with this out-of-the-box take on a tactical bug-out vehicle. So if you are a DIY guy and have the tools and know-how for projects like this, start humming The A-Teamtheme, get out in your garage, and see if you can drum up something similar that may save you tons of money in the long run. Tony estimates a 300-mile range with this little truck — and with extra fuel cans on the back, probably a lot more than that. So when loaded down with people and supplies, and able to bug out into some unforgiving terrain that only certain vehicles can access, this all makes a lot of sense.

1990-suzuki-carry-front-three-quarter-offroading

1990 Suzuki Carry
660cc three-cylinder gas engine, carbureted
4WD, four-speed manual transmission with locking rear differential

1 Front and Rear HID Lights
Make:
50 Caliber Racing
Model:
4-inch
URL:
www.50caliberracing.com
2 Front LED Light Bar
Make:
50 Caliber Racing
Model:
24-inch
URL:
www.50caliberracing.com
4 Front and Rear Winches
Make:
Viper Max Winch
Model:
4,500 pound
URL:
www.motoalliance.com
3 Front and Rear LED Visor Lights
Make:
Maxxima
Model:
Oval LED 6-inch Reverse Lights
URL:
www.maxxima.com

1990-suzuki-carry-rear-three-quarter
5 Bumper Guards
Make:
Ashwill Industries
Model:
Custom
Email:
[email protected]
6 Skid Plate
Make:
Ashwill Industries
Model:
Custom
Email:
[email protected]
7 Air Compressor
Make:
Puma
Model:
PD1006
URL:
www.pumaairusa.com
8 Bed Rack
Make:
Ashwill Industries
Model:
Custom
Email:
[email protected]
9 Interior Fabric
Make:
Synthetic
Model:
MultiCam
URL:
www.atomictarp.com

1990-suzuki-carry-tire
10 Wheels
Make:
ITP
Model:
Delta Steel
Size:
12×8, modified to fit 4x115mm flange
URL:
www.itptires.com
11 Tires
Make:
Carlisle
Model:
All Trails
Size:
23x8x12
URL:
www.carlisletransportationproduc.com
12 Tow Bar
Make:
Ashwill Industries
Model:
Custom
Email:
[email protected]




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