Restoring Forest Find Suzuki LJ20 proves to be a challenge

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After 40 years in the Sierra Nevadas and then dragging drugs through a river, this scum is in a sad state…

We already showed you the salvage of an old Suzuki Jimny LJ20 that was stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountains for 40 years (if you missed that, check it out here). That off-road recovery was pretty wild, with the rat-poo-infested rig going for a nice swim. But now it’s in southern Utah as Matt’s Off Road Recovery hands the vehicle over to Fab Rats for a mild restomod treatment. Ed’s old off-roader is in pretty sad shape though, so it turns out to be quite a challenge.

Seriously, if you haven’t watched the crazy videos of this Suzuki’s restoration, you need to watch them here.

Having seen more of this Suzuki’s sad shape now that it’s literally out of the woods, some are wondering if it would be easier and healthier to just buy another one. After all, these things don’t fetch much online. They weigh about 1,500 lbs., have a 359cc two-stroke engine, and barely fit two grown men in the front seats. Essentially, these are toys, like today’s side-by-side predecessors like the Polaris RZR.

What people don’t understand is that restoring this Suzuki LJ20 is about more than just practicality. This vehicle has serious sentimental value to its owner, Ed, a man who is a valued member of Winder Towing. Giving it a nice restomod treatment, Ed finally gets to drive the vehicle he thought was long gone after getting stuck in an avalanche in the 1980s.

This build is also about doing something that most people think is impossible. Just getting the Jeep XJ they call The Banana for this Suzuki Jimny was a major accomplishment, not to mention dragging the dead scum all the way back, partially via the river. Sure, it made for some entertaining YouTube content, but for the crew working on it, the recovery was difficult and a bit dangerous. Plus, Eric had to sit in a vehicle full of rat shit.

Luckily the rat poop washed away when this thing was submerged. However, the Fab Rats crew found all kinds of interesting items in it, including some novels that Ed probably read in his camp while relaxing in the evenings.

Ed also made a driver’s door out of wood, which funnily enough is the only door on the Suzuki that initially opens. The engine is broken, the roof is rusted through and one of the rear windows with the panel below it is gone, replaced by just a piece of sheet metal. This thing is a huge challenge, but we’ve seen Fab Rats perform some pretty amazing miracles.

Often Fab Rats do LS swaps on vehicles they resto mod, so some were concerned that this was the plan with Ed’s LJ20. Instead, they drop an engine from a Suzuki Sidekick in here, along with the automatic transmission. Some Dana axles from a Jeep CJ5 will also be donated, which will come with 31-inch tires. The roof will be replaced, but may become the soft top version of this classic. In other words, when the job is done, this “Golden Nugget” will look very different and should be much more suitable for a trail machine. It won’t be anything wild though, as Ed doesn’t like extreme rock crawling or such nonsense.

Watch the video yourself.

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