“I love the idea of somebody thinking this thing did the Camel Trophy,” this Sami’s owner told me. “It’s hilarious.” He and I were out in the desert playing with trucks and naturally I was really into his tin top. Usually, I have the oldest and slowest rig in the groups I go out with, but not this time.

Photo Details

  • Car(s): Suzuki Samurai, owned by Lance B. (@butler15b on IG)
  • Location: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Photog: Andrew P. Collins
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III

The Suzuki Samurai is, in many ways, one of the best adventure vehicles to ever roam the planet Earth. It’s light, maneuverable, fuel-efficient, easy to repair, robust enough to wrangle its way over almost anything, and fits easily into most airline overhead storage compartments. OK, it’s not that small, but… almost.

If you haven’t seen a Sami in person in a while, they’re almost disconcertingly small compared to modern vehicles. This truck’s brave pilot, Lance, rolled all the way from Los Angeles to Big Bear City (a 7,000-foot climb in elevation!) then convoyed with Ford Raptors and build Jeeps all the way to Joshua Tree over the rocky Burns Canyon route. The hula girl on the dash was dancing so hard that her skirt ripped off – and I’d be proud of that zinger if it were a joke, but it actually did happen. That poor plastic doll’s hips straight snapped. Lance’s head, in turn, hit the 4×4’s roof a few times too and I think that’s why he decided to bypass the second leg of that particular trip but I still think he’s brave as hell. Anybody can bolt a few hundred pounds worth of accessories onto a brand new 4Runner and head down the Mojave Road, but it takes a real road warrior to saddle up a small, ancient, mostly stock SUV and huck it a couple of hundred miles for some hardcore wheeling.

Of course, even a ride down the street would be an adventure in a fun little tin top like this. But it really is great to see this one still getting used as it was originally intended.