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samurai installation

The Axis Samurai Diesel Conversion Kit

We carry many parts for the Suzuki Samurai. Click to go to our main Suzuki Samurai webpage.


Samurai Diesel
                                                                                                                                 Logo is TM Pending


Samurai DieselYes, this is the Samurai diesel conversion system you've seen on Powerblock TV's hit show... Extreme 4x4 and Four Wheeler magazine.

The show's producers have a history of choosing only the very top products on the planet to review on their show. When it came to their bio-diesel Samurai project, they knew Rocky Road was THE stop for not only a full engine conversion system, but also THE BEST VW installation installation system on the planet.

Do you think they did all the research and decided on the 2nd best kit? NO! The producers of the top 4x4 TV show on the planet did all the research and determined the Rocky Road kit was the best diesel conversion kit for the Samurai, its a fact.

Click on the Xtreme 4x4 TV logo to head over to the Xtreme 4x4 website for the video with more information on why the best professionals in the industry choose the Rocky Road Samurai diesel kit. The episode is also available on iTunes.

Yes, you can find other kits available, but they don't include necessary components and are weak in other areas of engineering. In fact, we often have our competitor's customers coming to us to see if they can buy some pieces of our kit since they didn't realize at the time of purchase that the system they chose was incomplete... and certainly not advertised as such. Get it correct, right from the start, no surprises about missing parts or trying to engineer your own custom wiring harness, Rocky Road kits give you the simplest and most complete installation possible.


Now... why a diesel for a Samurai?

Overall, the venerable Suzuki Samurai is a well designed, well built, "serious" 4x4. The engine has several drawbacks, though. The mighty diesel engine has long been a workhorse in the power industry used when the heavy work is done. You'll find it in everything including agricultural tractors and "semi" tractors. A conversion to a diesel engine will provide:

Better torque. The stock Suzuki engine produces approximately 55 ft. lbs. of torque, the VW 1.6 turbo diesel produces over 90ft. lbs. This means almost twice the hill climbing capability compared to your current Samurai. The 1.9 TD produces over 140 ft. lbs of torque. You just put it in low range and idle over everything without touching the throttle.

Better Fuel Economy. The stock Suzuki will get highway mileage in the mid 20's M.P.G. A diesel powered Suzuki will get in the high 30's M.P.G. Even better improvements in fuel economy are found when 4 wheeling. This means more miles between fill-ups. This may not be too big of a concern in city type driving, but when you are out in the "bush" a long ways from a filling station, this can be real important. No more hauling fuel cans on 4 wheel outings.

Long Life. The stock Suzuki engine is not known as a "long life" engine. Although with proper care, they can last a reasonable amount of time. Diesels, in general, are designed to last for several hundred thousand miles. It is not unusual to hear of diesels with 400,000 miles or 500,000 miles before requiring rebuild.



Why a VW diesel?

Samurai DieselThe VW diesel has several advantages over other diesels.

Availability. VW diesels are one of the most popular diesels made for automotive purposes. The VW diesel (originally introduced as a 1.5L, normally aspirated version - we prefer the newer 1.6L Turbocharged version) was introduced in the late '70s and is, in larger displacement and updated form, still available. They are readily available in junk yards or from "donor" vehicles. More recently 1.9 TDs have been released in Canada and are available through our network of suppliers. Here are some sources for VW Turbo Diesel engines. Engine can be of a North-South OR East-West orientation.

The VW Turbo Diesel with adaptor plate and flywheel attached.

Cost. The availability of the VW diesel means that a significant quantity of "donor" engines is available at a reasonable cost. Prices range from $200 - 300 at a "you-pull-it" junk yard, $500 - 800 at a "full service" junk yard or $2,000 to $3,000 for new or refurbished engines. Rebuilding a diesel can be done cost effectively, as parts are readily available. In some instances a rebuilt diesel may be no more costly than a rebuilt Suzuki engine.

German Engineering. Achtung! Need we say more? By the way, Volvo (a company known for reliability) uses VW diesels in some of their automobiles. Plus.... FarfenZUKen!!!

Spares Availability. Since the VW is a reasonably popular diesel, spares are readily available, should you ever need them.

Support. There is a lot of information available on VWs and their engines. Many service manuals (including the "Idiots Guide" - one of our favorite) are available, many repair shops and garages have experience with the VWs, and there are subscription news groups, bulletin boards and websites on the Internet.

It Fits! The VW diesel is approximately the right size, weight, power and RPM range. It is really a sweet installation!



What is Involved in the Samurai Diesel Conversion? 

Lift Kit.
Due to the size and orientation of the VW diesel, You will need to provide a minimum of 3" lift on your vehicle. This is measured from the front axle to the frame. We can supply this for you and have the largest selection of suspension systems on the planet for the Samurai. Without the extra clearance to your axle, you take a chance of crushing your oil pan if you hit a hard bump. Some kits state you do not need one. Our philosophy, better safe than sorry. Plus you'll benefit from improved ride and handling from any of our suspension systems. 

Donor Parts Required
Samurai DieselVW water cooled engines came in either a "North-South" installation (crankshaft in line with length of the vehicle, as in the Quantum or Audi Fox) or an "East-West" installation (typically called "transverse" mounted where the crankshaft is perpendicular to the length of the vehicle, as in the Jetta and Rabbit). Some donor parts MUST be from a "North-South" installation, others MUST be from an "East-West", but for many parts it doesn't matter. Our kits will work equally as well with either engine. You will also need a VW Fox flywheel machined to fit the starter ring from your current Samurai flywheel.

The 73-page installation manual takes you thru the installation step-by-step with information, pictures, and illustrations such as this. Click on the pic for a larger view.

Specific Samurai Diesel Donor parts:

Diesel Engine. The preferred engine is a 1.6L Turbo diesel, manufactured from approx. 1983 to 1989. A VW 1.6L gasoline (water cooled) engine from Volkswagen will also fit - if you are looking for horses, not torque. Many other engines will fit as well, though some minor modifications may be required to complete your installation. If you choose a Turbo engine for your installation, the turbo assy. must be the type where the turbo mounts on top of the exhaust manifold (East-West installation), not below it (North-South installation). Other vintages will work, too, as well as the newer model 1.9L diesels, but some modifications may be required.

Oil Filter Adapter. The Oil Filter adapter must be from a "North-South" installation donor. It allows the oil filter (and oil cooler, if applicable) to mount at a slight angle, thus avoiding interference with the left side motor mount. If you choose a Turbo engine, this adapter must have a turbo oil pressure line fitting. The VW P/Ns are 086-115-417T or 049-115-417T depending on what vehicle it was removed from. The P/N is cast in the top of the adapter. Either German or Brazil manufacture is OK.

Pressure Plate. We typically recommend getting a new pressure plate, but if you want to get a used one, get the one that goes with the above flywheel. This pressure plate and flywheel assembly allows you to use either the standard Suzuki friction disk or a slightly larger one (not VW).

Starter. You will need a Starter motor from a '90-'93 Geo Storm. We recommend buying a new one, but if budget is a problem, you can pick one up while scrounging parts at the local junk yard. We do not use the stock Samurai starter as some kits do since it simply cannot hold up to the strains of turning over a diesel engine.

Fuel Filter Adapter. Any VW diesel fuel filter will probably work. We have only ever seen one style. The VW P/N is 086-127-401. This is a BOSCH part and the VW P/N is cast in the top in small characters. You will need the "banjo" hose fittings but not the rubber hoses that connect to them.

Samurai DieselPulley. Most of the VW waterpump pulleys we've seen on VWs will not be used. Try to find a VW Power Steering pulley of an 89-92 Jetta or Audi. Look for P/N 027-145-255. We have had trouble finding this in junk yards, but if you run across one, pick it up.

Installed VW engine. It fits so nice you'd think the Suzuki engineers knew all along what we'd be doing. 

You do NOT need: The donor engine does not need to have the Alternator, the A/C pump, any other belt driven accouterments, or a Starter motor. The kit allows you to use your Suzuki Alternator and A/C Pump.

Our Samurai diesel system uses precision laser cut 3/8" plate for the engine to transmission adaptor. All other brackets are heavy duty 1/4" and 5/16" construction. Every bracket in our system comes with a lifetime warranty against failure. The kit will last forever.... guaranteed.

Our Samurai diesel system also gets rid of the lightweight Samurai pieces which just don't handle the extra diesel power well.... such as the starter, clutch, and flywheel. We would not run these lightweight parts on our diesel equipped Suzukis and don't force you to either. All components are easy to find at any local auto parts store.

Our Samurai diesel system requires no core pieces or returns. Mainly because we don't want to sell other people's ratty old used parts to you! Everything in our system is 100% brand new manufactured.

Click here for a detailed list of all parts including VW part numbers.


Best Diesel Conversion for Samurai

The AXIS Power® Samurai diesel kit is the most complete system on the market today. While there are a couple competitors kits on the market that may appear to be a bit cheaper on the surface, they are not when the big picture is taken into consideration.

You WILL spend more money AND waste more of your time as you track down all the missing parts needed for the installation with those other kits. They won't admit this, so don't look for it in their email or website literature.

This chart shows what is in our kit and how it stacks up to the competition. The chart is 100% accurate.


Samurai Diesel Components:              AXIS Power® kit  Competition
Engine / Transmission adaptor kit
Heavy Duty Starter Motor mounting kit
Motor Mount assemblies
Alternator Mount kit
A/C Mount kit
Throttle Cable hookup
Complete Diesel Wiring harness
Fuel Filter adaptor kit
Turbo Intake adaptor kit
Custom Exhaust Header
New Pilot bearing
73 Page Installation Manual with pictures
  Smaller, less comprehensive instructions.



The AXIS Power Samurai diesel conversion can be suited for use with 1.6, 1.6TD, or 1.9TD applications. Please specify your engine type at time of order as well as exhaust manifold description since several flanges were produced by VW. 

Samurai Diesel Conversion Select rate Click to cart
AXIS Power Diesel swap kit
Includes wiring harness
A/C mounting kit
Allows use of the Suzuki AC system on the Diesel engine. Only available
with purchase of full Axis Diesel kit.
Wiring harness
Comes with our diesel kit listed above, but handy for those who bought
a competitor's kit and didn't realize they don't include the mandatory wiring harness.



A convenient supplier of imported VW engines including the hard-to-find 1.9TD's can be found


One of the more common questions we receive is "can I use a TDI engine for this swap". The answer is not a simple yes, or no. The AXIS Power kit does allow you to physically fit the TDI engine to your Suzuki. But there are some complications in the TDI swap that make it MUCH more complex than the older, simpler, non-computer injected TD engines.

In the older TDI engines dating 96-98, you must not only obtain the engine, but also the engine harness and control module. Even more serious complications come into play with the 1999 and newer TDI engines. For those, you must obtain the engine, the harness and computer, the instrument panel and the ignition switch and key all from the same vehicle since it is all serial matched. VW's security system necessitates all these components for the engine to function. Additionally, the oil filter assembly and water outlets/necks require modification to fit onto the Samurai, plus all accessories (their brackets) from the engine must be removed. The computer system and matched electronics for the injected diesel is the main trouble though.

You can use a newer TDI engine and just remove all electronics and the computer injection pump, but you must replace the computer TDI Injection Pump with mechanical injection pump that has been modified to be able to handle the TDI engine’s requirements. You can find these custom built pumps through some specialty VW performance shops. But be forewarned, they cost upwards of $1200-1300 for the pump alone!

So can the TDI swap be done? Yes.
It is inexpensive and easy? No.