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Even if it weren't for the eye-catching blue-green paint job, the Suzuki Samurai 4x4 I stumbled across in Laos on vacation last spring would have caught my attention. I have always been a fan of these fun little 4x4 runabouts, which spawned the equally-rugged replacement Jimny and inspired the larger, slightly more substantial Vitara / Sidekick years later. The most common models are the standard length 2-door fixed roof and convertibles, though several other variants cropped up over the years, mostly in overseas markets.

Longer versions of the fixed roof added significantly more cargo space behind the rear seats, a definite sore spot in the base model. A 2-seater pickup version was also available, with or without bed. With so many configurations there was a Samurai to please just about everyone.



Judging by this Caribian model I saw, there were at least a few people that were looking for a bed too small for most cargo, and a back seat too small for most people! A compromise often brings together the best of two possible solutions, though it seems like the Samurai Caribian was a 'worst of both worlds' kind of deal!

Identical to every other Samurai from the front doors forward, this mini extended-cab model features an additional portion added to the rear of the cab, which eats into the already tiny bed.






In the end, I get the attraction of this hard-to-categorize buggy. It offers extra interior space to carry items protected from the elements or a couple of people in a pinch, but also provides an exterior bed for wet, dirty or bulky items. It would never replace a large pickup, but where it gives up in cargo and people carrying utility, it gains with its compact footprint and low cost.

During my many travels across southeast Asia this is the only Suzuki Samurai Caribian I ever saw, so it would seem that it's not a very popular model. Still, it's a pleasure to discover this kind of uncommon vehicle, and while it wouldn't suit the needs of everyone looking for a pickup truck, it would make a nice addition to any collection. You just have to be willing to accept a few compromises, and in return, enjoy pleasure of driving such a unique vehicle!

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