PROJECT: Awesome Sauce!
Bryan Takes His Freshly Built Suzuki Sidekick Across Country, First Impressions…
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo:B. Zeigler, E. Bewley, V. Mueller, G. Fuller
NASHVILLE, TN - Those of you who followed the Project Godzuki Resurrection thread in the forum and on the home page know that I shipped my Sidekick out to Liberty Overland to get an over haul. We took quite some time discussing, planning, reviewing options for the build before coming up with detailed design. We decided on an all new truck instead of rebuilding the one I had abused for the past 14 years. Through out the process I went form wanting a Mike Hagen Rock Star style Sidekick using all of my existing components, to a V6 version of Blake Savages Samurai / Sidekick combo, to an all out Suzuki powered V6 tube buggy. One of the only common themes between these thoughts and ideas was that I wanted to have V6 power, actual power in my Suzuki no matter what shape or form the rest of the vehicle was, it needed power. We finally came to a final design that incorporated several products and ideas from many different vendors and scratch built items from the Liberty Overland shop that created a long distance cruiser that is a capable and comfortable driving the freeway as it is traversing the hard-core trails and scenic byways of our great nation. Even after a year of discussions and changing of designs, the staff at Liberty Overland was still as open and eager to help me get exactly what I wanted out of my new adventure vehicle as the day we began.
Needless to say once a final design was developed we were eager to get the job done. After ordering a pile of parts and many long hours in the shop Eric sent me some updated pictures showing me the new ride; sitting on bump stops, no interior, half the body work complete and all the fine details still to be completed. At that point we were only 4-6 weeks form the completion date and I decided that I did not want to see the vehicle again until it was complete. Over the next few weeks, we discussed details but I had not seen a picture of the ride until Christmas Day. When I arrived to pick up my ride, I felt like kid on Christmas morning getting a brand new big wheel (those Lexus Christmas commercials have nothing on this). Talk about PERFECT; they had developed exactly what I had envisioned, only better. The urban camo wrap with a thanks to the armed forces subtly showing through, overlaying the bright blue paint. A stance that accommodates the 37×12.50 Mickey Thompson MTZs but still low enough to fit into the parking garage at work (only 64 clearance). The sweet custom body work that allows the 37s to stuff inside the fenders without a body lift. The attention to detail on this truck was incredible. Besides the words, this is perfect, I was literally speechless.
After a couple of days in the shop (that I requested so I could actually say I worked on my rig) I was eager to get a little play time in and hit the road. We headed up to one of Eric and Gregs club members property to try it out in a play area he was developing. With all the rough weather they were having, man it was muddy. A 3-5 deep obstacle with 2-4 rocks scattered about over its 50-60 length made me realize that I was really bad out of practice when it came to wheeling. (Two years in Florida + one year building the rig = 3 years with little or no time behind the wheel). Once I realized that there was no way I was going to flip the low and wide Kick and to use the available V-6 power (that I had never had before) it was a blast playing in the thick muddy soils of the North West.
Way too quickly was my allotted 5 days in Oregon over. It was Good Times as always hanging out with my good friends, and making a few new friends, but it was time for this Southern Canadian to head south. I was both eager and weary about my trip ahead. Most everyone thought I was insane to drive a freshly built Sidekick on 37s across the country, but when they heard that I was going to do it after a trip all the way down the west coast; I think I convinced them that I was.
After a late start I was on the road around 6 pm on Tuesday and heading to Imperial Beach California. For those of you not familiar with the locations, I was leaving western central Oregon and heading to my destination located less than 3 miles form Mexico. The drive down went relatively quickly. The new ride did great at 65 mph and made fairly quick work of the trip through California, putting me in Southern California mid afternoon the next day. I was shocked at how comfortable the vehicle was on the road. I had many people asking WHY put a Kick on 37s usually followed by how streetable will it be? I was expecting the vehicle to be drivable on the road but not comfortable. I definitely did not expect to have that kind of power AND decent gas mileage all combined into a built Kick. Cruising at 65, the 2.5L Suzuki V6 held its speed with just a light tough of the gas and only dropped out of overdrive on the steepest of passes (but still could hold its speed on any incline). I was warned to watch the temp on any vehicle when climbing The Grape Vine coming out of the valley into LA. The Kick held the speed limit through the entire pass and barely even increased in temperature. The Corbeau seats kept me comfortable and secure for the entire trip, they even slept well during my 3 hour cat nap at 3am; I only started getting wrestles after over 15 hours in the seat while dancing my way through LA traffic. This was another area that the Kick preformed excellent. Slow moving, 6 lanes of traffic that suddenly blast form 5-50 mph then back on the brakes to avoid people jockeying for position. If you did not keep up with the flow you would be cut off and get nowhere. Once again the V6 proved its worth being able to run with traffic while still keeping a cool head and not heating up.
After enjoying New Years Eve and New Years Day with friends in Imperial Beach, it was time for the marathon road trip to continue. We had plans to do the trip from the California coast to Tennessee non stop, only pulling over to get gas every 180 miles or so. Then a quick 40 hours later, I was home sitting on my couch. Besides the scenery blasting by at 65, there is not much to tell about the ride cross country. Due to me leaving to go out of town on business less that 24 hours after getting back form the road trip, we used the extra time as a buffer (if any thing went wrong) instead of stopping and checking out sites. We did take a couple of short rides down desert roads in New Mexico and Texas for a break to the same ol 4 lanes of pavement blasting by, but nothing to memorable.
My first impressions of my new Liberty Overland Adventure Vehicle: Its awesome! It is exactly what I was looking for and more. I am looking forward to many years of dependable service out of it, like I have had out of all my Suzukis.
Now that I am home for a few weeks, its time to put some local miles in the seat and to go wheeling. Now all I need is a full weekend off and Im heading to the trails. Over the next few months I will be putting my new ride through the ringer to see just how capable of an adventure rig it is. I will keep you updated on the rides, road trips and adventures.
Larger images available here: Click here.