New Wheeling Rig – Suzuki Vitara/Tracker 1


Finally picked up a new wheeling rig so I can get back into welding stuff back together after breaking it offroad (which is why I learned to weld in the first place). This post is the start of the adventure including getting stuck on my way to buying it. I also list some of the future plans and information resources!

History and challenge

I have always been an offroad nut. Since my first vehicle ‘The CrAzYbLaZe’ in high school that I constantly broke and modified to my second offroad rig ‘Ol’ Blue’. I eventually sold both of them once we had our first kiddo and hobbies went on the back-burner. As of yesterday though I am back in the game!

I have been looking for a cheap and light yet capable offroad vehicle for a while now. I have a hard rule for not buying any more vehicles with a carburetor (too temperamental for me). Fullsizes were too big, jeeps too expensive, so all arrows seemed to point to a single vehicle – the Suzuki Vitara (Geo/Chevy Tracker and all of it’s variations).

I have always been a fan of the Four Wheeler Magazine Cheap Truck Challenge. They go for a budget of ~$2,000 and go have fun with whatever they bought. I am going to shoot for a self imposed budget of $3,000

Picking up the new rig!

So after many months of looking I happened upon a gem of a Suzuki Vitara/Tracker/Sidekick. 4 cyl 5 speed 4×4 165k miles and a clean title! I debated on the 4cyl vs v6 but I wanted it to be super light and need to polish up on my stick driving skills. All of the V6’s I found were autos.

DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
So we headed out in Momma’s super spotless tow rig
DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
Then ran into issues about 3 miles from our destination (in the middle of nowhere). So while this road that the GPS told us to go on technically would have gotten there, it was a BAD idea due to the rain we had received the day before. There was no way I could turn around with the trailer hooked on.
DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
There was so much mud on the trailer tires that they had ceased to turn and were just sliding. That is when we lost forward progress…
DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
The Explorer in mud/rut mode was actually really impressive for being on street tires. It could move on it’s own just not with the trailer, so we pulled it off to the side.

So this is where I call the guy with the Suzuki for sale and as soon as I told him what street I was on he said ‘oh man… ok… I’ll be there in a bit’. So apparently this road has a reputation, I just didn’t know it before it was too late. So he came out and attempted to pull the trailer with his pickup until it shut off and wouldn’t start again. So we all hopped in the Explorer and went back to his house for the 4×4 tractor.

DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
After pulling the truck out of the way and spinning the trailer around we rode on the trailer back to the Explorer. This mud was like trying to drive through brownie batter…
DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
After hopping back in the now covered in mud Explorer we followed the tractor and trailer.
DIY Cheap Truck Challenge Suzuki Vitara Tracker
It was an exhausting morning we finally got back to his house. Everything was as described so I bought it on the spot!

So our 2.5 hour round trip turned into about 5.5 hours… But nobody got hurt and we all made it home fine. I am VERY thankful for the guy’s help (I will let him remain anonymous). We would have been totally hosed if he would have just left us out there or not had a tractor to help with.

Future Plans

I want this to be a fun light run around rig so I am hoping to keep the mods simple and the tires not too big. I want to be able to take it out and have fun without constantly working on it. I am $1,400 into it so far and will be updating as I go along to try to stick to my budget of $3,000!

  • Fix a bunch of stuff to get it back to good working order (lights, brakes, oil changes, etc.)
  • Weld the rear differential (Hobart Locker)
  • 2″ spacer lift OR cut and lower the frame (link in resources below)
  • 31″ tires (or at least more aggressive) & less backspacing wheels
  • Manual hubs up front (weld the front diff selector to engaged)
  • Build roll cage (or at least roll bar to begin with)
  • Custom front bumper/winch
  • Custom rear bumper (raise gas tank? Would have to cut floor out)
  • Rock sliders (cut out rockers so they are high as possible)
  • 3:1 or 4.24:1 t-case gears and twin sticks (the most expensive mods)

Research/resources

Here are links to some of the resources I have found so far and would like to save for the future:

Stock pictures for future reference

Stay tuned for the build! This rig should be around for a long time.


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One thought on “New Wheeling Rig – Suzuki Vitara/Tracker

  • Showgatur Rashid

    Dear Paul,
    Great article about Suzuki Vitara, It’s a nice car and performance also challenging. I think it contains a powerful technical feature for a rough road drive. I hope Suzuki Vitara/Tracker may ideal car to drive in any condition.
    Thanks