Resetting Forest Find Suzuki LJ20 proves challenging

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After 40 years spent in the Sierra Nevada, then drugged across a river, this plant is in very bad shape…

We have already shown you the recovery of an old Suzuki Jimny LJ20 trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains for 40 years (if you missed it, take a look here). That off-road recovery was pretty wild, with the rat-poop infested gear going for a good swim. But now it’s in southern Utah when Matt’s Off Road Recovery hands the vehicle over to Fab Rats for a mild restomod treatment. However, Ed’s old off-roader is in pretty sad shape, so it’s proving to be quite a challenge.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen the crazy recovery videos of this Suzuki, you need to watch them here.

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

What people don’t realize is that restoring this Suzuki LJ20 is beyond practicality. This vehicle has serious sentimental value to the owner, Ed, a guy who is a valued member of Winder Towing. Giving it a nice restomod treatment, Ed can finally drive the vehicle he thought was long gone after being trapped by an avalanche in the 1980s.

Also, this build is about doing something most people would deem impossible. Just getting the Jeep XJ they call The Banana to this Suzuki Jimny was a major feat, not to mention lugging the dead truck all the way, part way across the river. Sure, he created some fun content on YouTube, but for the crew who worked on it, recovery was difficult and a little dangerous. Also, Eric had to sit in a vehicle filled with rat poop.

Thankfully, the rat poop was swept up when this thing was under water. However, the Fab Rats crew found all kinds of interesting items inside, including some novels that Ed likely read in his camp when he was lounging around in the evening hours.

Ed also fashioned a driver’s door out of wood, which funny enough is the only door on the Suzuki that can be opened at the start. The engine is toasty, the roof is completely rusted and one of the rear windows together with the panel underneath is gone, only replaced by a piece of sheet metal. This thing is a big challenge, but we’ve seen the Fab Rats perform some pretty amazing miracles.

Many times, Fab Rats do LS swaps on the vehicles they’re modifying, so some were concerned that was the plan with Ed’s LJ20. Instead, they’ll put an engine from a Suzuki Sidekick in it, along with the automatic transmission. Also donated are some Dana axles from a Jeep CJ5, fitted with 31-inch tires. The roof will be replaced, but perhaps transformed into the soft top version of this classic. In other words, when the work is done, this “Golden Nugget” will look very different and should be much more capable than a track machine. It won’t be anything wild, though, because Ed doesn’t like extreme rock crawling or similar nonsense.

Watch the video yourself.

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