The Suzuki Jimny has racked up another accolade on its 50th anniversary as the mini SUV enters the ‘Japan Automotive Hall of Fame’, which hosts only the most iconic in Japan’s growing automotive industry. It becomes the brand’s second car to receive the prestigious honour, after the 1955 Suzulight, which entered in 2008.
Every year the Japan Automobile Hall of Fame carefully selects three historically significant classic cars to honour, which this year is the Suzuki Jimny, Toyopet SKB and Honda RA272.
A historical masterpiece that broke new ground for the Japanese mini-car sector and a car that laid the foundation for the Jimny series, which has been a bestseller for 50 years and has been acclaimed around the world.
The first generation Suzuki Jimny LJ10, which began life in 1970, laid the foundations for Suzuki’s 4×4 successful tradition and served as a patrol vehicle for rangers, emergency response teams and other officials thanks to its ability to navigate the most challenging terrain in Japan.
The ‘Japan Automotive Hall of Fame’ also appreciates that this model was very popular as a recreational vehicle among nature lovers, fishermen and skiers. The LJ10 was also the first all-wheel-drive vehicle to meet Kei car specifications and a rating that helped make it an unexpected best-seller for Suzuki.
50th anniversary – Suzuki Jimny
In reality, the Suzuki Jimny that was launched in 1970 changed the marque forever. The LJ10 (Light Jeep 10) was the brand’s first off-road vehicle and also the first to boast four-wheel drive, two hallmarks of the brand. 50 years later, all the cars that Suzuki sells in Spain offer AllGrip all-wheel drive.
Suzuki began to develop its first off-road model following the guidelines of military vehicles whilst embracing a more user-friendly design, ease of driving, very compact size and extremely lightweight. The desirable LJ10 Jimny featured a slim body with removable roof and doors. Inside it had three seats, plus a space for the spare wheel, which could not protrude from the body to keep the total length below 3 meters and be approved as a ‘Kei Car‘.
The LJ10 had rigid axles and a gearbox transfer case, elements that the Jimny continues to maintain today and which reaffirm its renowned off-road capability. This combination of lightness, heights and 4×4 technology is the winning formula of all generations of the Jimny when it comes to climbing steep slopes, going through the mud or dealing the most difficult terrain.
In 1975, the second generation Jimny (LJ50) was marketed outside of Japan for the first time, quickly establishing itself in Europe in 1978 with the third (LJ80). In 1981 the LJ series passed the mini-baton to the SJs. Its great reception worldwide allowed its production in 8 different plants, among which is the one in Linares (Jaén), where in excess of 200,000 units were manufactured. This was the generation with the most body versions: short wheelbase, long wheelbase, pick-up, canvas roof and fibreglass.
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1988 saw, for the first time, a new generation introduced called the Jimny across all markets and featured comfort and refinement never witnessed before until that point. It was quite ahead of its time, allowing it to have a commercial life spanning two decades.
In July 2018 the current generation was unveiled, an icon of the design winner of the “World Urban Car” and ranking among the top three in the “World Car Design of the Year” and “2019 World Car Awards”.