If you're looking to get into off-roading, but don't know where to start, consider this 1986 Suzuki Samurai. It's the first year the Samurai was sold in the US, and the perfect beginner 4x4 for someone just starting out. You should buy it.
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Despite its small size, the 1986 Samurai is a seriously capable off-roader. It has a body-on-frame construction with live axles front and rear, selectable four-wheel drive, and a low-range transfer case. Basically, it's exactly the kind of setup you want for driving through rough terrain. And because it's much lighter than most other 4x4s out there, it's less likely to sink into deep mud or sand. Those things, combined with a simple four-cylinder engine and a good old-fashioned manual transmission, make for a solidly fun package. For a beginner, we can't think of anything better.
A dissenting note from Road & Track's Deputy Online Editor, Bob Sorokanich: While normally I would not barge into my colleague Brian's post to vehemently disagree with him, in this instance I cannot stay silent. A nearly-stock Suzuki Samurai that has miraculously survived the past 32 years in this condition does not deserve to be used as an off-roader. Think of how many Samurais have been crashed, chopped up, hot rodded, rolled over, crushed at a Monster Jam, rusted into nothingness, or burned to the ground over the years. The fact that this Samurai survived, and avoided all of these woeful fates, makes it deserving of a better fate than to be some off-road first-timer's throwaway practice rig. This thing has earned the right to a restful old age. If you're a 4x4 beginner and you want to go crunch something up as you learn the finer points of off-roading, buy something that isn't already hard to find. Stock, solid Samurais are hard to find, man. Go buy a Chevy that's already been cut up for big tires and gnarly bumpers. Let this one be!
This particular Samurai seems to be in surprisingly good condition for its age. Aside from some fading on the hood, the paint looks to be in good condition, as do the bumpers. Inside, the floor liner is missing, but the heavily bolstered seats look brand new (and not stock). According to , the car is being sold as a part of an estate sale in Washington state. It's said to run great, and sports a set of new-ish off-road tires. The odometer currently reads 97,473 miles.
This Samurai , with six days remaining left to bid. There's been 10 bids so far, with no reserve listed. If you're trying to break into the off-roading community, or just want something fun and cheap to play around in mud and snow, this could be the mini SUV for you. [Don't listen to Brian -Bob]