Nick Hurd’s Diesel-Powered 1987 Suzuki Samurai

Posted On: 2015-08-07

While scrolling though Facebook one day, a certain little Suzuki caught my eye. It was green with what looked like our Pocket Style Fender Flares on it. I contacted the owner, and sure enough, they were our parts. It turns out the owner, Nick Hurd of Salt Lake City, had a great build thread and some cool pictures of the pint-sized rig. It also turns out this isn’t just a good looking little rock crawler: It’s good looking turbo-diesel rock crawler.

This Samurai was Nick’s first venture into working on cars, though you’d never no it. His brother-in-law had taught him how to do brakes, but he couldn’t even change his own oil. Hey—we all have to start somewhere, right? Nick was always into cars and trucks, but didn’t know how to work on them and was ready to change that. He squirreled away enough money to purchase a project vehicle and decided to get a Samurai.

Unlike many people who get a project rig and just do a few modifications here and there, Nick had big plans. He wanted to swap in a turbo-diesel engine and design his own suspension for it—and that’s what he did. And yes, he’s an engineer.

The project slowly came together over the course of three years. There was bodywork and paint; interior upgrades; and then the heart and soul—the turbocharged Volkswagen diesel—a TDI from a 1996 Passat. He rebuilt the engine, installed it, and mated it to a Toyota transmission using an ACME Adapter parts.

For the front Suspension, Nick used a three-link setup on a Toyota axle (with a Lock Right locker). For shocks, he added Doetsch Tech Dt3403s. Out back, he used a dual triangulated four-link, a Toyota axle with a Detroit locker, 16″ Blue Coil springs, and Doetsch Tech Dt3336 shocks. He also added stainless braided brake lines all around. The vehicle has 5.29 gears.

The truck’s interior features a Grant GT steering wheel, PRP suspension seats, a custom-fabbed roll cage, a kickin’ stereo, and a host of other custom touches.

One of the more unique features of this Samurai (other than the fact it runs a VW turbo diesel!) is the electric power steering. Nick sourced a power steering mechanism from a 2005 Volvo V50 and ran it to a Toyota FJ80 steering box, and it works great.

Of course the truck was going to need some other off-road necessities. He added a Calmini front winch bumper, an Engo 9K winch, 33″ Cooper STT tires on welded beadlocks, Bushwacker Pocket Style Fender Flares, a Zukies Off Road rear bumper with swing-away tire carrier, and a jerry can mount, just to name a few items.

“It was quite a lot of fun mixed with a bit of stress over the years of figuring out what I was doing with this thing in the garage,” Nick said, “I didn’t have the time or money for it, but it slowly came together.”

I think that statement sums up many peoples’ project vehicles.

Nick is getting ready to take the vehicle to Moab this year and has had the rig out and about through Norther Utah. We think this diesel-powered Samurai is awesome, and is a heck of a first project car. I can only imagine what the second one will be like!

If you’d like to learn more of the nitty-gritty details about Nick’s “Rock Hog,” see his thread on as well as the chart below.

Nick Hurd’s 1987 Suzuki Samurai

Exterior Accessories
Product Part #
Bushwacker Pocket Style Fender Flares 60902-07
Calmini Front Bumper SS3153
Engo E9000 Winch #77-09000
Wheels/Tires and Suspension
Product Part #
33" Cooper Discoverer STT Tires See Website
Doetsch Tech Shocks Dt3403s (front) and Dt3336 (rear)
16" Blue Coil Springs See Website
Welded 15" Beadlock Wheels
Zukes Off Road Rear Bumper/Tire Carrier See Website
Engine & Driveline
Product Part #
1.9-liter VW TDI engine (from 1996 Passat)
Toyota W56 Tarnsmission
ACME Adapters TDI Parts See Website
ARP Head Studs See Website
Lock Right Locker (front) See Website
Detroit Locker (rear) See Website
Product Part #
PRP Suspension Seats See Website
Grant GT Steering Wheel See Website