Suzuki Sidekick Solid Axle Swap with 35″ tires and more!
Editor: E. Bewley
Salem, OR – The time came when our family had grown to the size that our Samurai and even our 2-door Sidekick just didn’t have enough room for long trips. Adding a child’s safety seat and the associated gear that a kid needs to be ‘happy’ on the trail can easily stuff a vehicle in about 5 seconds flat. Before our first child came, I had been bouncing the idea of building a 4-door just have more room for long distance overland expeditions where we would be out for weeks at a time and sometimes, the distance between services would make traveling in a 2-door difficult. In a chance conversation with Sky from Sky’s Off-Road Design the idea of building a kick using all of the components one had already invested in and built in a Samurai with took shape. Simply put, you build a radically cool Samurai and then a family comes and you have no room. Do you sell your Samurai with all the goodies or do you transfer them over? We chose to transfer…
This project starts off with an exceptionally clean ’94 4-door JX. A JLX would have been a bit nicer but we wanted a manual transmission and it’s quite difficult to find a JLX with a manual. So, we’ll swap in the couple of goodies we wanted such as cruise control and the softer/better interior bits. Next step, this one was easy for us… We just dropped off the stock Sidekick to Sky’s shop and said, “Have fun” and they did. The kit was designed on this chassis but you couldn’t tell it as the fit and finish is great and if you’re thinking of doing a leaf sprung solid axle swap, definitely check this one out.
But this build is more than just a suspension kit. Sky also provided a set of custom axle housings including an offset rear to help with driveline angles as we’re going to use a Samurai t-case. SORD’s custom axle housings are really cool and they provide a solid foundation for this project. Did I mention they’re cool?
Below are a few glamour shots of the initial part of the build done at SORD’s shop. After this part of the build, we sent it to 99W for body and paint and now it’s back to our shop to finish the drive train, add armor, and fill it up with all the trail goodies we think we’ll need. Here’s a build overview:
1994 Sidekick Project Plus One
- SORD Leaf sprung Solid Axle Swap
- SORD Front and Rear custom Axles (Toyota Based)
- 99W Body & Paint with customized fenders for more room
- Samurai t-case w/crawler gears (from donor Samurai)
- Tom Wood’s drivelines (from donor Samurai)
- Front & Rear bumpers Used Calmini bumpers
- WARN winch (from donor Samurai)
- Custom build rocker skids & roof rack
- Adventure goodies (lights, sand ladders, fuel cans, etc…)