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Suzuki Sidekick Buggy/Go Kart

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I want to reiterate before I get into this, the girl who was driving when this rolled walked out with just a bump on the head. She is totally fine and we still can't believe she was okay after rolling at about 60mph in this tin can.

 

As some of you may have seen my post in the pub about this, I have been able to obtain my buddy's rolled Suzuki Sidekick. This will serve as a mini build thread that will truly begin when it warms up outside. Worst case scenario I end up parting this thing out and scraping the carcus but we'll see where it goes.

 

My plan is to cut the roof off and add a roll cage as well as cut a lot of the sheet metal off to give it a more buggy look. In order to make it have a practical use, I also plan on making a bed in the rear so I can use it to haul stuff around the property if need be. It is a 4-door model so I will be removing the rear seat in order to make a larger bed and making it a 2 seater. An added bonus will be that I can make it street legal as long as the suspension can be made safe again. I don't plan on putting much, if any, money in this thing so I'll be doing a lot of bending and welding things back where they go.

 

Below there are pictures of it and I will admit, yes it is bad, and yes I'm being optimistic about making it usable...

 

The damage is as follows:

- something is broke in the steering as the front wheels don't work together properly but they are still attached to each other

- the rear axle seems to be shifted to the passenger side but this may be an illusion due to the body damage

- the passenger side body mounts are ripped out of the floor

- the driver rear rim is bent and possibly bent the axle shaft as well

- some of the plastic vacuum line connectors are broken

- 1 vsv valve is broken

 

Overall it actually seems to be fairly intact. I have yet to make sure the engine runs because it's been in the negatives and real crappy outside recently. The battery is dead so I have no idea what works electrically but the trans and t-case shift smooth and it isn't leaking any fluids. All the fluids are at the correct level except the oil, which leaked out some while it was on its side. The trans locks the rear wheels in park and let's them roll in neutral so that seems okay. I was super surprised to realize all 4 of the doors, including the fuel door, open and close fairly easily. I would never have bought this thing but I know how well my buddy took care of it and I know how mechanically sound it was before it was wrecked so we will see where it goes.

 

If you guys have any suggestions or just want to say I'm absolutely insane for attempting this, just let me know! 50c85435b846c1fe28611ac42fff63ee.jpg76bc615137854d973e3d8be1621a19f6.jpg8d666a23018655d9c27a122ad39a4786.jpge9f8252b25443a105b52c46506ade014.jpgca28a87f831b06d894e3ef8981188095.jpg2f6ca9b44d8a09a91608a5ab8a2f4ad4.jpg7e1e5ec1bd02c6a92a92408c746b6c2f.jpg902c4de1f0ae18f808ce5e39ea41668e.jpgbe5194d2c6457be6f9a13f2405ed8475.jpg

 

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you are indeed insane for attempting this. :D   but it's going to be such a blast once it's done!  :jammin:

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It was a little warmer today so I decided to see if the Suzuki would have power with a new battery. After throwing in the spare battery, it had power and everything seemed to power on like it should.

 

This gave me motivation so I pulled the plugs and turned it over. Of course oil sprayed all over the engine and hood but all sounded good. I cleaned the plugs, reinstalled and turned the key. It struggled for a few seconds and then fired right up. Runs smooth and doesn't make any bad noises. I only ran it for a couple minutes because I need to do more poking around before I really run the motor.

 

The trans seemed to not want to go into gear though. After a few tries I was able to get it to shift into both reverse and drive and the Suzuki moved both ways so I'm hoping it's just low on fluid.

 

The last thing I did was pull off the passenger side fender to get a better look at the suspension. It seems to be straight and I don't see any signs of stress anywhere on the frame, the body is completely mangled and falling apart in that area though. It's obvious the vehicle slammed down hard on that corner.

 

The last picture shows how the body came apart where the shock hoop runs up to. Luckily with the way the suspension and frame are designed, the body has no structural purpose right there.

 

I really can't wait for some warmer weather so I can do some real work on it! 6d784c8eaf7eae6a38548454b1105851.jpg353e3cb73c1bac58e3bd8e340a139b27.jpg35226631f2379398450faae987433462.jpg9cb96810a9cb675739b39137a269fafb.jpg

 

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Over the weekend I got some more work done on the Suzuki. I tore apart the front end and passenger side to really get a good look at the damage and try to figure out what all I want/need to cut out. There is a lot more damage to the inner fenders than I thought and I found the front body mount to be really bent towards driver.

I did some more poking around and measuring the frame and the frame seems to be straight. The front is crooked because the passenger side strut tower is bent inward and in the rear it seems the control arms bent causing the axle to shift. I figure with a chain and a few yanks from a big truck or the tractor, I should be able to straighten those out.

As for the body, at least 2 of the passenger side body mounts are completely ripped through the floor and the others are bent. I'm not sure how I'll be able to straighten them easily or if I will at all. If I clean everything up real good and weld the broken ones back in it should be just fine right?

I really like the look of the front end with just the inner bumper and lower frame crossbar. I think I'll just weld a steel plate under the front and leave it like that. I plan on running with no fenders and just using something to cover the tops of the tires. I will do my best to flatten the hood back out and that will be held down with hood pins and I'll probably sell the drivers headlight and get a cheap set of lights to mount up front. 65edbb446e34c52e0ae6708a554223a4.jpg2ac3483756979142fdddf7353a8fda9e.jpgb26b52f9185880d5f5f829b02449b38c.jpg20a44c3a8746b29757d66e2dfe25ecc3.jpgcf64433a97f860400bf9a7685311afb3.jpgbb40a6313b8e4b13f55d131be1a5a4dd.jpg

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It was 61*F yesterday which allowed me to get some work done on the zuki.

First thing I did was remove the airbag so that I don't end up blowing it up in my face. abc21e9eacf0afaaa77262e6ba2a9f13.jpg

I went ahead and pulled the rear wheel off and filled it up with air. The rim is severely bent but luckily the axle is straight. I found a replacement on eBay and that should be here on Monday. I'm gonna try to do the tire swap myself since it doesn't need balanced. I've never done it before so we'll see how that goes.
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I did some yanking on the strut tower with the MJ and it looks to have come back mostly straight but it still has some negative camber to it. I also brought the tie rod end in some, which helped as well. I will try to adjust it more later but it is straight enough I can actually move it now.
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The glass going everywhere was annoying so I covered the windshield in duct tape to keep it contained and it is working quite well. Still not sure how to get the glass detached from the bottom of the windshield frame.
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It started right up when I turned the key but is running rough because of all the vacuum leaks and the trans acts like it has a stall converter or something in it. Revs up to about 3k rpm before engaging and taking off. I read that a similar symptom can happen on these with a vacuum leak so I'm hoping that is the issue. I spent nearly 2 hours last night looking for the right vsv for it and was able to find a used one on eBay for a decent price. It should be here Saturday.

Next steps are to clean up all the glass shards, the vacuum and electrical mess, and start stripping the interior while I wait for the parts to come.
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I don't know how you rust-belt folks even become vehicle enthusiasts.  That level of rot - I wouldn't have given that 'Zuk a 2nd look...... way more work than it's worth in my book.  

 

But I'll enjoy watching this thread as you transform that pile into your fun-buggy!

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5 hours ago, yellaheep said:

I don't know how you rust-belt folks even become vehicle enthusiasts.  That level of rot - I wouldn't have given that 'Zuk a 2nd look...... way more work than it's worth in my book.  

Yeah it's difficult at times.  It takes a long time to find anything with a good body.  It took me over 2 years to find my clean bodied MJ.  This I don't really care about because it won't ever be a "nice" vehicle again.  

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Got a little more done on it yesterday. Found the coolant overflow bottle a new home next to the brake booster. It's secured with some zip ties around the electrical harness and the booster cause why not?
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I also used some model car glue to reattach a couple vacuum fittings and used zip ties to hold them in place while it dried. I had no other glue and wasn't about to run into town so hopefully it holds up.
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I took the hood off, threw it in the ground, and stomped around on it to flatten it back out. It worked quite nicely and looks somewhat normal again.

Finally got the windshield off so now I can start cleaning up the glass mess.

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Tonight was more of a cleanup night for me than anything. I spent some time picking up the trash and bigger chunks of glass. The thing looks much better inside now but it has standing water on the floors from all the snow and rain. I really need to get the capet torn out so it can drain.

I did spend some time getting the rear hatch open. I was able to make it line up decently when it's closed but due to the severe damage to the hinged side, the door sticks way up in the air when it's open. It almost looks like those fancy Lamborghini doors when it's all the way open.
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The front looks much better with the hood flattened. I think I may cut up the front bumper and use pieces of it to make a front grill for it. Holding it up there gave me a few good ideas I want to try out.
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Finally more progress. Replacement vsv valves showed up. I got them installed and fixed the other vacuum leaks and that completely fixed the roughness in the engine.
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Also got the replacement wheel. Changed a tire for the first time. I used some big pry bars that have been on the farm forever. Took me about 2 hours from start to finish on the one wheel. Definitely room for improvement there. To break the bead, I used 2 methods. For the outer bead I put the floor jack under the tire and held it to the wheel with a strap, then cranked it up till the bead broke. For the inner bead I had to use the method with the 2x4 on top of the tire and the jack underneath on the rim, all strapped together.
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After getting the wheel back on it, I took it for a lap around the yard. Found out real quick some sheet metal needed removed. Broke out the angle grinder and hammer to make the tires clear. Also went ahead and adjusted the toe correctly so it measured the same front to back on the wheels. Still have some negative camber on the front wheel but I may try to make the other one match so it has better corning abilities.
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Last thing I did was get a bungie cord out to hold the hood shut. Took it out again and did a few laps. Suspension seems good and it runs great. Still has the issue where it revs high before the trans engages. Seems to be better than it used to be in drive but still not great in reverse. The trans was low on fluid so I'm hoping once I get it at the correct level it will be fine.
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Got tons of work done on the Zuki today. Spent at least an hour vacuuming up glass before I could even start working on the interior. Got the seats, center console, and carpet pulled up. Surprisingly only broke 1 captured nut loose, everything else came out without issue. I was planning on moving the seats back some but I see no way to do it without removing the sliders. None of the mounting points are on the same plane and there is no way I could keep the sliders without a ton of fabrication, which I don't want to spend the time on for this project. I went ahead and slapped a bunch of antiseize on the seat bolts and stuck the front seats back in for now.
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I also pulled the headliner out in prep for cutting off the roof. I went ahead and cut the top of the rear gate off. The metal is so thin that it just sliced right through. Cleaned up the edges so nobody cuts themselves and left it at that for now.
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I needed to find a way to pull the roof back up for now so it wasn't right in my face while driving it back and forth across the yard. Ended up using the scissor jack that I found in the car and a 2x4 to push the roof back up. It worked very well and looks much better than it did. I can also see out that side of the car again.
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Went ahead and pulled the drivers side fender off only to find a rediculous intake setup. Air come in from the outside of the inner fender at the front, goes to the back of the fender where it has a drain box, then goes up and through the inner fender and back to the filter box located behind the headlight, then up into the engine. I can only imagine how much better this thing will run once I remove this rediculous mess. Anyway I cut and beat the inner fender in to create more clearance for the tire.
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After getting the drivers fender opened up, I pulled the Zuki up to a tree and used my tow strap to yank the passenger side back out a bit since the tire still rubbed it while turning hard. Couple yanks and the bumper was straightish, couple more yanks and I got the body as far as I could. It's much better but I think I'll just do some cutting instead.
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After I finished the work for the day I took it up the lane to get the mail and test it out with some speed. Got it up to 37mph before the bungee cord stretched and the hood started to lift up. Didn't seem to pull and no vibrations so I'd say that's a success!


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Spent some time thinking out my cage plans. I've decided to make the front end out of tube as well since the one side is mangled. Went ahead and started cutting out some sheet metal to get a better idea of what I'm working with. Eventually the whole front corner will be cut out. e18c4fd3b43d9d42d1fdb8bb90a66e72.jpg44455eca0b4d489528e50b2a22399019.jpg

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I have been contemplating what to do for the front end for a while. I wanted to just do a mesh grill but there is really no good structure to it anymore so I went a different route. I had an XJ front end that was in pretty bad shape so I cut that down to the size I plan on cutting and tubing the front. 4 screws hold it to the sheet metal and the thing doesn't budge. Currently it's held together in the middle by duct tape, eventually I plan to use fiberglass and attach it properly, but we'll see if that ever happens. It is missing the passenger side marker lenses and the trim piece so I'll have to source those.

Since the Zuki had a similar light wiring setup, I was able to wire all the XJ lights into the existing wiring and all the lights work. I did plan on using my old LED headlights on it but after spending an hour being confused by the readings on the multimeter, I realized that this thing switches polarity on one of the wires when switching between low beam and high beam. This basically means I can only use the LED lights on high or low beam but not for both.. That just means I need an ebay light bar for at night. 307d9269c802868b693cdb2a0e261833.jpg

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Redneck engineering at it's best. I love what you're doing to this thing, and sounds like you are having a lot of fun doing it. It's all good.   :beerchug:

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15 minutes ago, HOrnbrod said:

Redneck engineering at it's best. I love what you're doing to this thing, and sounds like you are having a lot of fun doing it. It's all good.   :beerchug:

Thanks!  It's definitely an absolute blast.  :beerchug:

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what do you need a side marker for?

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6 hours ago, Pete M said:

what do you need a side marker for?

My ultimate goal is to make this thing road legal to the point I can drive it,  on back roads, from A to B to transport it short distances.  Other than that, there really isn't a point other than to clean the look up a just a bit.  

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what's the plan for the windshield?  or do you even need one?  

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1 hour ago, Pete M said:

what's the plan for the windshield?  or do you even need one?  

According to my buddy, who's brother was given multiple tockets for driving a non-legal race car on the street, you are required to have wipers but not a windshield.  I find that super weird but wouldn't surprise me with how stupid some laws are.  The Zuki does still have working wipers though so it's good there. 

 

Anyway I've been looking into my options for a windshield.  

Polycarbonate (Lexan) - would cost about $125, is hard to remove scratches, and could turn yellow from uv rays but is super easy to work with and also super strong and bullet proof when thick enough (would be cool to have a few decorative bullets lodged into the corner of the window). 

Plexiglass - would cost around $65, is easy to remove scratches, stays super clear, stronger than glass but not even close to the strength of PC, and is hard to work with because it will shatter and create very sharp shards under pressure. 

Factory glass windshield - would cost whatever the JY wanted, I'm guessing still over $100, and is likely to crack from rocks or impacts this car will take.  Also I'm not sure how to attach it since it will only have a roll cage because the windshield frame is too badly mangled to hold a windshield. 

Full faced helmet, or open faced helmet with goggles - still not 100% sure if windshields are required, I also have a huge head so this would be super expensive.  In reality I should buy a helmet either way.. 

 

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Wait, are these body on frame? If so, I never would've guessed. I'm surprised at how well it held up. I always thought these things were deathtraps. 

 

I applaud your insanity for doing this.

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5 hours ago, Minuit said:

Wait, are these body on frame? If so, I never would've guessed. I'm surprised at how well it held up. I always thought these things were deathtraps. 

 

I applaud your insanity for doing this.

Yup! Body on frame with solid rear axle and independent front.  Coil springs on all 4 corners.  I would still consider it a death trap but yeah it must have rolled just right because the frame seems to be straight and the suspension is relatively untouched aside from the front passenger.  If it was unibody, I never would have attempted this.  

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If you couldn't tell already, this thing is going to be a cobbled mess of function over form... The exhaust broke yesterday while having some fun and man is this thing loud with no exhaust after the cat. I just took a piece of old exhaust tube and cut slots to make it fit over the larger pipe, then used the leg of a tomato cage to tie the exhaust back up. It isn't a tight seal but it isn't super loud anymore and it hasn't fallen off after an attempt at jumping the Zuki so it hopefully is a permanent fix.183abbc14aa33ddfedc5ff416697caee.jpg

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Finally got around to installing the oil pressure gauge. Screwed it right into the dash and cut up a redbull can to make a shroud to protect it from water because I'm sure for $20, it's not waterproof. All I've got to do is hook up the wires for the backlight.

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Also finally got the Zuki airborne!

 

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Well I haven't gotten around to doing anything else to it, but I did get a little ballsy on Tuesday. I started to push it to see how capable it was offroad. Made a new, more technical trail through one of the old garbage pit/washout/creekbeds and had it tilting on three wheels a few times. It was doing surprisingly well until I finally got it high centered on a steep dirt mound, right on the edge of the deep part of the creek. Had to use the MJ to pull it out. It's definitely interesting doing a recovery by yourself.
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I also figured out that the rear bumper and rear factory recovery hook are held on by rust. Luckily the hitch is still solid so I just wrapped around that to pull it out and then jumped on the bumper to straighten it back out.
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I'm currently working on getting the correct power plug for the welder or the wall, so I can plug the damn thing in. What's everyone's opinion on using an old Lincoln stick welder for a roll cage for this thing? If it rolls, it would be crawling or less than 30mph. It would be cost prohibitive for me to get it welded up with a mig or transporting it to where I have access to a mig.



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