QotW: What’s your ultimate SUV restomod project?

Last week Acura unveiled a very cool thing: a restomodded SLX with a modern RDX engine and drivetrain. It was clever, challenging, and unexpected — all the hallmarks of a great build. Since SUVs and crossovers outsell sedans these days, maybe it’s time to start souping up these AWD family haulers like how the generation before made hot rods out of Sentras and Accords.

What’s your ultimate SUV restomod project?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What should we do about the manual transmission?

It was evident from the answers this week that JNCers are passionate about manual transmissions. We got epic rants from the likes of BlitzPig and Matt C. bryan kitsune and Kevin had some practical advice — to simply drive old cars. speedie implored us to teach the youth, a noble cause. Wayne Thomas made us chuckle by categorizing them as an anti-theft device. vballin resigned himself to their extinction, while Dave held a more optimistic view.

Yuri and Monte advised everyone to buy more MT cars new, perhaps the best advice given. And to that end, the one who really put his money where his mouth is is Steven, who has purchased six MT cars new. For that, he deserves the win.

Well, I feel I’ve done my part. I’ve purchased 6 cars (still have 5, one was totalled), all brand new, all M/T. I make fun of anyone who buys an A/T sporty car. And I offer to teach my friends to drive an M/T. But it’s a futile battle. Carmakers aren’t in it for the romance. They want to make money and M/Ts don’t sell, at least here in the US. Besides, ICE cars will eventually be phased out, gasoline will be impossible to buy, and we’ll all be stuck taking public transportation in the not-so-distant future.

Like they say in the war movies, enjoy them while you got them…

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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16 Responses to QotW: What’s your ultimate SUV restomod project?

  1. Ant says:

    I’m gonna go unconventional, I think. Not generally a fan of SUVs, but given the right treatment…

    It’s not yet within 25-year JNC territory, but I’d like to see a Type-R variant of the first-gen 98-06 Honda HR-V “Joy Machine”.

    I’m thinking the B18C from a DC2 Integra, Championship White paintwork and wheels, red Recaro seats. Based on the three-door shell (seam-welded and strengthened like proper Type Rs, naturally), sound-deadening material removed to save weight, and perhaps with the optional AWD system for extra all-weather traction.

    I did consider a first-gen CR-V with the guts from the current FK8 Civic Type-R, but the quirky HR-V wins out this time I think…

  2. teddy says:

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and pick a first gen (96-97) lx 450. Very 90’s styling, Comfort and Luxury, and AWD.

    What would I do to it?

    I’d probably swap a big turbo 2JZGTE in to it, maybe a 1UZ-FE. Imagine hauling the kids to school with 500hp on deck. I know people are gonna be mad for my idea of messing with a (basically) land cruiser, but come on, you can’t tell me it wouldn’t be fun.

  3. Alan says:

    1GZ-FE-swapped LC100, please. Stock look, stock feel, no V12 badges or other tacky add-ons–just a one-of-one ultra-luxe Toyota SUV in the exact form they would possibly have built if the bubble never went ‘pop’.

  4. The101 says:

    My ultimate JNC restomod SUV would be a 1st gen Isuzu Amigo with full prerunner suspension and an RB26TT swap under the hood. Bonus points if the Amigo still carries its oh-so-90s graphics, which unfortunatley aren’t reproduced. Perfect as a beach buggy, while still having enough grunt to be a blast on pavement.

  5. エーイダン says:

    Find a 1970s Mitsubishi Jeep, swap in the engine from a Evo X, fit a special off-roading gearbox, lower the suspension just so…..then paint the vehicle over in olive drab, slap on a U.S. Army star or Japanese Chrysanthemum emblem on the bonnet, take it out for a spin, maybe see how fast it goes down the quarter mile.

  6. The Acura conversion is a very nice example for out-of-the-box thinking. It inspired me and therefore I created my own vision of a resto-modded Japanese classic 4×4: a WD21 Nissan Pathfinder / Terrano. You can read about my thoughts and look at the picture here: http://www.sebastianmotsch.com/nissan-pathfinder-terrano-turbo/

    This is not the only such idea There are many more to be found on my page and some have even been previously featured here at JNC. 🙂

    Thanks in advance for your feedback

  7. Mark Newton-John says:

    This may be a bit heretical, but since Acura modded essentially an Isuzu…
    A 1st gen Mazda Tribute shoehorning a Ford 5.0 liter Coyote DOHC 4-valve engine with some Saleen bits to push it to 700 hp.
    In case you didn’t know, the Mazda Tribute is a Ford Explorer Sport

  8. Mark Newton-John says:

    This may be a bit heretical, but since Acura modded essentially an Isuzu…
    A 1st gen Mazda Tribute shoehorning a Ford 5.0 liter Coyote DOHC 4-valve engine with some Saleen bits to push it to 700 hp.
    In case you didn’t know, the Mazda Tribute is based on the Ford Explorer Sport, and Saleen did modify a few. And Saleen built the 1st gen Ford GT supercar…

  9. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    My ‘87 Suzuki Samurai has been one of the best projects I have tried. I am still amazed how much utility I can get out of it. Swapping in a 16V 1.6 made up for the little 1.3.

  10. Jaime Teddy says:

    I am an SUV lover. My last restomod SUV will be the 2000 Subaru Outback

  11. Rowan says:

    GQ Patrol with RB swap… nah that sounds so cliche
    80 series Land Cruiser with 1UZ… little better
    3 door NA Pajero/Montero/Shogun with 4G63… noice

    Best yet – the HSV version of this very Isuzu-based SUV, the Holden Jackaroo HSV, with an LS swap.

  12. Tom A. says:

    A Suzuki Samurai desert runner with big flares and long-travel suspension would be rad…and that’s before you get to what I’d power it with: Twin second-gen Hayabusa engines and gearboxes (one for the front axle, one for the rear).

  13. F31Roger says:

    Restomod… smaller side: Suzuki Samurai or X90.

    Larger side: Definitely Isuzu Vehicross. Been in love with that thing since it came out. But the Rodeo or Trooper (and Trooper II) would be nice.

    I had a 1st gen Mitsubishi Outlander and I wanted to do the Airterk conversion or even the Evo version, but that never materialized because it seemed parts were hard to find.

  14. Angelo says:

    I’d go with a Delica Star Wagon, with the drivetrain derived from the Pajero Evolution. With camper van setup and a rally-inspired look.

    Why? They’re easily found here in the Philippines, due to grey market importers bringing them in by bulk.

    That could happen, given that the acronym SUV stands for Sport Utility Vans haha

  15. cesariojpn says:

    If we’re gonna throw new underpinnings into old cars, and money is no object, why not increase the specs list a bit?

    Not only would I want to shove the current J200 Land Cruiser underpinnings in the old-school J40 FJ Land Cruiser, but let’s give it some decent bomb and gun-resistant specs to boot!! After the engine and suspension stuff is done, i’d send it over to the folks at Stoof International and let them do their magic. If they can do it to a modern Land Cruiser, why not one that can tackle the offroad? ICON would be going “huh, why didn’t we do that to our Land Cruisers?”

  16. Steve says:

    I’m a big fan of the first gen body style Isuzu Troopers (1986-1991 here in the US, known as the Bighorn in Japan and the Jackaroo in Australia), as they are affordable and just rare enough to get some cool points. If I could restore and upgrade (restomod, I guess) one of them it would be a European Irmscher version of it.

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