Two Wheel Drive to Four Wheel Drive Conversion
My son Wesley has been riding shotgun for years in my Zuk so it was only natural that he wanted his own Samurai when he turned 16. About a year prior to his 16th birthday I started looking for a project truck. It turned out that Mike Dugan of ZUKI South had bought a ?91 two wheel drive model with a blown head to use as parts. Mike agreed to sell me this truck and do the build up as part of the deal. So here?s what it took to turn the little Zuk into a real world 4 X 4.
- Front axle out of any model year 4wd Samurai (same year as truck makes it easier)
- Front driveshaft (needs to match the front axle)
- 4wd Transfer case (stock or crawler)
The first project was to get the engine running again. Mike had another head at the shop and he sent it off and had it reworked. Once that was done we bolted everything back up and the little Zuk roared back to life. This was the perfect time to add a Pacesetter header and a custom exhaust to make the little 1.3 breath better. Also since the head had been cracked I did a heavy duty flush job on the cooling system. The little FI 1.3 really screams and other than the header, it?s stock.
Next we dropped the old 2wd front axle out and simply bolted up a 4wd axle from an ?88 model. This is a complete bolt in if you stay SPUA but that wasn?t going to do for this project, so Mike did a complete Spring Over Conversion including new upper and lower shock mounts. This made plenty of room for the 32 X 11.50 Swamper SX?s. We also installed Rancho 9010?s at all 4 corners for a nice soft ride. A Z-link was used to correct the steering geometry and a Napa steering stabilizer was installed in the stock location to dampen everything.
Next up we had to address the transfer case. The 2wd model has the same setup as the 4wd except for the case had no front output shaft. The mounts are located in the same place so swapping in a Petroworks GRSII was as simple as installing it into a 4wd model. I did have to locate a shifter as well as the needed boots. The 2wd model has a flat plate bolted over the hole where the t-case shifter goes so all you do is remove 4 bolts and install a plate with a boot. In fact I called Hawk and he had the parts I needed and even sent the inside plate the same color as the truck! We addressed the problem of having mixed pinion flanges on the axles by simply using a 12mm flange on the front output of the t-case and using 14mm on the other two. The GRSII was the perfect choice for the 32?s and stock R&P?s. The truck can cruise down the road at 65 to 70 in 5th gear with no problems now. A Rocker Knocker skidplate from ZUKI South was then added to protect the case.
The only problem I haven?t corrected yet is the 4wd indicator light in the dash. The wiring was in place under the truck to hook it up but there is no light in the dash. I?ve got to track down the wire and mount a light for the 4wd indicator. Not really a big concern but I?d like to add it one of these days.
This is probably one of the easiest conversions out there since Suzuki built both the 2wd and 4wd model the same. Only difference was the front axle and transfer case. So the next time you see a great deal on a Samurai only to find out it?s a 2wd model, go for it as it?s an easy swap. Also I'd like to add a quick thank you to Mike Dugan for all the long hours he put into this project!
Drew Huber - TEAM ZUKI