Piranha Off Road’s Alan Johnson chats Suzuki 4x4s

Chatting all things Suzuki 4x4 with Piranha Off Road’s Alan Johnson.

Alan Johnson

ALAN Johnson, founder and owner of Piranha Off Road Products, probably knows more about Suzuki 4x4s than anyone in Australia. So we asked him a few questions about the tough little off-roaders.

Article originally published in December 2014 issue of 4X4 Australia.

4X4: What started your interest in Suzuki 4x4s?
AJ: I owned a Land Rover Series 2A and spent most of my time working on it. My brother purchased a LJ50 and it never broke down. I sold the Land Rover and bought an LJ80 hard top. My 4WD passion bloomed and the Victorian Suzuki 4WD Club was formed. And the fun began!

4X4: How many Suzuki 4x4s have you owned?
AJ: Probably over 30 from LJ50, LJ80, various Sierras, Vitaras and Grand Virtaras.

4X4: How many do you own now?
AJ: Ten that go, nine that don’t go.

4X4: In your opinion what is the best Suzuki 4X4 ever made?
AJ: I love them all but the 1.3 [litre] Sierra with a five-speed gearbox was the quantum leap from toy to serious car. Long trips were now seriously possible. The world opened up.

4X4: What are the best points of the Sierra and/or Jimny?
AJ: Sierra: simple; reliable; adequate power; cheap and easy to modify; timeless style; Japanese quality; an outstanding car for its time. Jimny: coil springs; 1.3 EFI motor; quiet; comfortable; capable with minor modifications; great fun at an affordable price.

4X4: What are the worst points of the Sierra and/or Jimny?
AJ: Sierra: noisy by modern standards; slow, but more time to enjoy the trip; hard to get a good one now. Jimny: needs bigger wheels really badly; needs lower gearing if bigger wheels fitted; but genuinely a good starting point to build a mini monster off-roader.

4X4: What are the key modifications needed to make a Sierra and/or Jimny better off-road?
AJ: Sierra: 30 x 9.5 [inch] tyres on 15x7 [inch] rims; quality springs and shocks; diff breathers; bigger battery or dual batteries; bigger alternator; snorkel; lower ratio transfer box; diff locks; chrome alloy front axle and CV joints; fuel tank guard; extractors and better exhaust. Jimny: springs and shockers; possible body lift; bigger wheels and tyres; snorkel; diff breathers; cut guards to allow fitment of tyres; extractors; diff locks; chrome alloy axles; tank guard; fit Sierra transfer box with low auto gears.

4X4: Closing words?
AJ: Buying, driving and modifying a Suzuki is life-changing. A Suzuki is a small fun package that opens up a world of off-road travel like no other. After 35 years of Suzuki passion and adventures, and at nearly 60, I’m attempting the first ever solar-electric Suzuki to cross the Simpson Desert. A world record beckons and the fun never stops.


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