The Suzuki Jimny Makes for a Great Vintage Ford Bronco Clone
Japanese body kits can turn the Jimny into other classic off-roaders, too.
If you live in the U.S., it might seem bad enough that you can't buy a brand-new Suzuki Jimny, the coolest mini-4x4 that Japan doesn't send stateside. But, please, allow us to stomp on your ruined dreams with this revelation: That means you're also missing out on a Jimny equipped with a classic Ford Bronco lookalike body kit. Yes, this is a thing that exists, thanks to Japanese tuning company DAMD (Dream Automotive Design and Development), which calls its retro-styled tribute to Ford's classic off-roader the "Dronco."
According to DAMD's website, the adorably cool Dronco is currently under development and scheduled for release sometime in 2020. Germany's Auto Bild reports the Dronco made its first appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year, still well in advance of the new 2021 Ford Bronco, which arrives this spring. We expect the real, Ford-badged Bronco successor to look nearly as boxy as the Dronco, but we'd be surprised if it looks this retro. Oh, and it won't be nearly as tiny. The Dronco's white-painted bumpers, grille, and steel wheels are pure first-generation Bronco, as is the light-blue hue seen in these photos. (We also dig DAMD's "The Roots" model, which honors early Jimnys from the 1960s and '70s. It's the yellow on e shown below.)
Dig the retro Jimny vibe, but wish it were less…American? We thought you'd never ask! Because the stock Suzuki Jimny's design employs so many right angles and is made up of a simple three-box shape, DAMD has already developed other body kits that can transform it into other classic SUVs. There are Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class setups, and both are pretty convincing. The tuning firm calls its Defender kit "Little D," and its G-Class kit "Little G." Hey, when you're already ripping off the design, why get creative naming it?
Body kits that make cars look like other (especially more expensive) cars aren't usually our thing, but the Suzuki Jimny on which these fakes are based is an awesomely capable machine in its own right—and it's tinier than most subcompact crossovers we have here. If you're unfamiliar, the Suzuki Jimny is a true four-wheel-drive SUV that weighs just 2,500 pounds, is powered by a 101-hp 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and is supported by two little solid axles. Plus, it comes standard with a five-speed manual, which we recommend over the available automatic for no other reason that it helps squeeze the most "performance" from the weak engine.
The Jimny is all about simplicity, and that's what makes it so lovable and, apparently, so easy to dress up in classic 4x4 drag. With crash standards being what they are here in the States, and with the Suzuki brand having abandoned our market years ago, there's no way you'll ever see the Jimny here—let alone a Dronco, Little D, or Little G, and if you ask us, that's a DAMD shame.