This Suzuki LJ80R was gifted to legendary motorcycle racer Barry Sheene by the Suzuki GB team as a thank you for his remarkable exploits piloting Suzuki superbikes in top tier competition.
The Jimny was Suzuki’s entry into the four-wheel drive market, it first appeared in 1970 and unlike the full-size Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol, the Jimny was designed to be a smaller class of vehicle to meet Japan’s Kei car regulations.
Fast Facts – The Suzuki Jimny
- The Suzuki Jimny originally started life as the HopeStar ON360, a small four-wheel drive developed by Japanese automaker Hope Motor Company. After they went bankrupt they were acquired by Suzuki.
- The official model name of the first Jimny was the Suzuki LJ10 (Light Jeep 10), this was followed by the LJ20, LJ50, LJ80, and so on, each denoting a larger more powerful engine.
- Each of the four generations of the Jimny have used body-on-chassis construction with live axles front and rear, selectable four-wheel drive with high and low-range, and a ruggedly simple drivetrain.
- Barry Sheene rode for the Suzuki works motorcycle grand prix team from 1973 to 1979, he won the 500cc world championship twice for the Japanese team in 1976 and 1977, with a second place finish in 1978 and a third place finish in 1979.
Barry Sheene + Suzuki
Barry Sheene’s 1979 season-long battle with fellow racer “King” Kenny Roberts has long been viewed as one of the most consequential in the sport’s history – particularly the remarkable battle at the 1979 British Grand Prix.
Sheene rode for the Suzuki works motorcycle grand prix team at the top 500cc level from 1973 to 1979, he won the 500cc world championship twice for the Suzuki in 1976 and 1977, with a second place finish in 1978 and a third place finish in 1979.
In total, Sheene would take 21 wins over both the 500cc and 125cc classes for Suzuki between 1971 and 1979. He left to race for Yamaha in 1980 but returned to Suzuki in 1983, racing with them until 1984 when a serious crash at Silverstone all but ended his career.
Barry Sheene’s Suzuki Jimny LJ80R
As mentioned in the introduction, this Suzuki Jimny LJ80R was gifted to Barry Sheene by Suzuki Great Britain as a thank you for his years of service with the team. It was decorated with his racing number “7” as well as his name, and some red racing stripes for good measure.
Sheene kept the car and used it often for five years – right the way through he tenure as a racer for Yamaha and into the two years that he returned to race for Suzuki. Perhaps an indication that his heart always lay with the Suzuki team.
The Jimny8/LJ80 was an updated version of the earlier LJ50, it’s powered by a single overhead cam 800 cc, four-stroke, inline four-cylinder engine producing 42 hp. Power is sent to the wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission and the car tipped the scales at approximately 590 kgs (1,301 lbs).
The LJ80 uses body-on-chassis construction, like all Jimnys up to the most recent generation. It rides on live axles front and back and thanks to its small size and low weight, it can get in and out of many places that larger four-wheel drives can’t.
Silverstone Auctions will be offering this Jimny for sale on the 12th of November, the current price guide is £20,000 – £30,000 which works out to approximately $22,300 – $33,400 USD. It’ll likely be very appealing to those with an interest in motorsport history and a penchant for vintage 4x4s.
If you’d like to reads more or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions by Alan Kenny Photography
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