VINTAGE SUZUKI’s conclusion of project ‘Mr. Mutt.’
Story and Photography by Ted Holman
GRANTS PASS, OR. Our Final installment as we follow Ted Holman from Vintage Suzuki as he builds a samurai from the ground up for exploring the rugged trails and scenic vistas of the West.We Join Ted as he has finished his Samurai mechanically and has driven to several events and places in it’s less than glamorous appearance.
By completing “Mr. Mutt”, as my pride and joy had been christened, in time for the Rubicon Run in 1999, I found myself totally burned out. The rig ran, it wheeled and it was street legal enough for me to use as a daily driver. Eric Bewleys never ending tirade on the rough appearance was just irritating, but not enough to get me going again. I just ignored his reproach until early winter of 2000. He and Sara came to down to Grants Pass without his rig, as he was rebuilding the drive train to be axle busting bullet proof. We had a big snow that week and in a generous rare moment, I offered him my 90 Fuelie to accompany us up to Spencer Creek. Within hours, I was buried in three feet of snow with a busted Birfield joint and Eric was pulling me out. That was it. Ted used the roll bar and some nice cable ties to make this door catch. We got the rig home and after washing the mud off, I hauled it to my long-suffering painter, Jim Dangelo. He literally turned and hid as I pulled into his shop. Why he agreed to paint “Mr. Mutt” is often a conversation he has with anyone that will listen. It was rough. Jim spent the next four months staring and working on its previously totaled body. He is magic. Along the way, I dropped off a “new” grill, for a SJ410. I failed to mention it was just a close fit and that he would have to adapt the body to accept it. He just moaned. To protect Ted’s soft head, extra padding was needed on the roll bar. Jim finally called and told me to come pick the rig up. I was blown away. It was gorgeous! The body was straighter then new, the grill looked factory installed and the rest was in ten boxes. I had six weeks to get it finished for the ZUKIWORLD.com Sponsored Rubicon of 2000. No problem. Right! The doors are artwork. I spent about six hours apiece. They close as well as a 92!
I had one of Hawk Suzuki Parts famous “Bucket of Bolts” to replace all the missing hardware that I had misplaced over the past year and the job went relatively smoothly. Every Suzuki enthusiast should get one!
Here we see the vehicle almost completed. Finally, I loaded my just assembled, unblemished, frame off restoration on to the trailer. Immediately upon hitting the trail with my fellow Samurai enthusiasts, I realized I had over done it. How lame is it to take a beautifully painted Truck onto the Rubicon, a large collection of rocks and boulders left purposely to tear up man made sheet metal. I think the group collectively laughed under their breath. Erics famous quote was, “If you want to jinx a rig, toss a new paint job on it”. Well, we escaped with a minor dent on the rocker panel, but the trip would have been a lot easier on me if I had used a can of primer instead of paying to have it painted. It certainly would not have upset Jim Dangelo.
As with every other on going project, this one will never be done. This weekend I swapped the wheels and tires for 15X10s with 33X12.50 Super Swampers. Last weekend was spent installing a Wheelersoffroad on board air system. I am still scrounging around for a 1300 FI air cleaner set up to replace the K&N hanging on the intake casing and that should be it. Well, thats really not the case as I just saw one of Calminis new C3 front winch bumpers. Ok, after that it will be done,
Anyone want to buy an over restored Samurai?