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Opinions wanted about Grand Vitara, 03/04 ish.

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I'm looking for a smallish but still high seated 4WD for shooting from the drivers window mirror.

I've short listed a 3 door GV 1.6 about 03/04 vintage with the low ratio selector, the 3 door has wider doors than a 5 seater, so its easier to get my right arm out the window holding a NV equipped rifle with the forestock nestled in the door mirror bracket whilst still seated and more importantly breathing warm dry air at night, nuff said.

It worked real well with an old Pinin and an X-trail, and brothers Pajero. I'll have a DIY thermal spotter on the roof - aimed ahead of me with a screen inside the car and can basically position the quiet petrol car with the quarry in centre screen to take the shot.

I understand the sort of vintage I've detailed has 'ladder rack' chassis type which is apparently better off road than monocoque bodies. Any input about rust issues in particular, but also reliability and general ruggedness would be appreciated.

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Hi Dave, I recently pensioned off my '03  Grand Vitara after six and a half years.  It was the 2.0TD 5-door so not exactly the same as you're looking at. However, it's the same chassis type.  What finished mine off was the corrosion "within X mm of a structural point" criteria of the MOT.  The plan to fix it would have been to cut a hole in the floor to weld it up, but I called time on it and stuck the car on eBay with a very honest advert.  Some **** came and relieved himself of £250 to take it off my hands!

If you're shopping in that market I wouldn't look at anything else about the car except the rot underneath.  Get under there with a headtorch on and screwdriver and give it a good old poke.  If it's flaky, walk away.

In terms of performance off-road I would only mark the Vitara down on its ground clearance.  Fitted with proper tyres (Insa Turbo Dakars on mine) it would literally go through anything.  I had complete confidence in it.  Until the front diff and one of the driveshafts failed.  I think it might have been partly my fault for not respecting the possibility of drivetrain wind-up, which will break the diff and/or driveshafts if you use it in 4WD on surfaces where the wheels aren't slipping.

Abusing the car off road, it developed loads of squeaks/rattles etc and bits of the car fell off or stopped working... but it still soldiered on, I ran it for the last 18 months with only the rears driving it, with 6 year old worn-down mud tyres and I still squelched in and out of the woods OK.  Just had to know my limits.

I loved my Suki, whenever I see a similar one now I shed a little tear.....

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks for that, I'm checking one out this afternoon, one of the rare one's without the 'cute' looking light colour decorative skirt all way round that rabbits would easily see in the dark. Passed its mot last week with underneath having rust but not excessively weakened - so i'm thinking a bit of wire brushing and underseal would extend its life and I can weld after a fashion.


The wife don't like red but its primarily for me and rabbits apparently don't see red. :-)

Edited by Dave-G
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I had a similar vintage Jimny a while back, and it was good and sound underneath - I checked before buying. (Though it was younger as it was a few years ago now). I was going to take it to a chap on here to do a proper underseal with ramp and spray guns, but my fiancee rolled it and wrote it off before I could! Miss that car.

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