Sam-09As a youngin’ most of us grew up playing with hot wheels, (which is a common theme for this issue of Slam’d Mag in case you haven’t noticed) matchbox, and/or micro machines. Remember those tiny little chocking hazards that we had as kids? In fact, the very first car that I ever “lowered” was a micro machine! It turns out that we have a quite a bit in common with our custom brothers and sisters overseas, as Aoyama Tomokazu was also heavily influenced by these tiny little toys when he was a kid. At the time, who could have possibly known that fast forward 25 years and it would lead to something as amazing as the creation you see pictured here.

Sam-08Sam-10Sam-01 Photos & Words: Mike Alexander

Aoyama had been daydreaming about the idea of building something totally unique and different than all of the other slammed customs he had seen at the local Japan car shows. After tossing some ideas back and fourth between his good friend and builder Taka from JOINTZ Customs they decided to do the unthinkable – build a real life micro machine! JOINTZ Customs is one of Japan’s premier custom shops, so a task as big as this one was right up his alley. The platform that the duo settled on was taking a 1995 Suzuki Samurai, yes the same 4×4 that is usually lifted and outfitted for trails and off-road action, and cutting away until it laid flat to the floor.

Sam-07Now mind you, it might sound easy to grab a sawzall and just start cutting, but a whole lot of planning went into this build to keep it as clean as possible and allow it to be a fully functional driver. Beginning with removing the leaf-spring and 4×4 setup, Taka built a custom suspension setup that allowed this tiny Samurai to get the type of lift and articulation needed to daily drive with a set of decent size wheels. This alone is quite the chore, as these things are setup from the factory on tiny 13-inch wheels, so in order to get as low as they wanted and still run a killer set of Mooneyes 17-inch Speed Master wheels it took a lot of time and effort from the crew at JOINTZ.

Sam-16Sam-15Sam-13Once Taka and Aoyama were happy with the stance and suspension the real cutting began and the Samurai was sliced and diced until the rockers sat flat to Mother Earth. A total bodydrop of 2.5 inches allowed everything to still clear the “massive” wheels (yes, 17s are giant when it comes to a Samurai) and keep the factory hood in tact, which was a definitely must for Aoyama. He had three “musts” when this build began:

1. The Samurai must sit flat on the ground ad keep the stock hood
2. The Samurai must tuck as large of wheels as possible
3. And it must be painted bright red and scream “Micro Machine”

Sam-06Check, check and coming right up! Taka and his crew kept the factory sheet metal intact and built the floor up in the areas needed. Next up, they got down to business and eliminated the spare tire holder, shaved the holes and hinges, and began masking and sanding. A bright Standox Red was the color of choice and soon enough the Samurai rolled out of the paint booth looking EXACTLY like a toy.

A micro machine in fact, and as they all stood back and admired the work – Aoyama knew right away that they nailed it. All that was left was to drive, show, and enjoy his “life-size” toy which has received a ton of international attention. They didn’t set out for this little Micro Machine to have quite the impact that it did, but it’s deserving of every photo snapped since it takes as all back to more simple times when the hardest decision of the day was which toy to play with. Very well done, our hats off for a truly unique build that was executed to perfection.

Stay tuned as we continue to circle the globe and bring you the coolest rides worldwide, no matter where you call home!


Slam’d Specs

17×7 Mooneyes Speed Master wheel
165/40R17 Pirelli tires

Chassis Modifications:
Front: Removed leaf spring, converted to Airlift strut
Rear: Removed leaf spring, converted to traditional airbag
Frame notch
Triangulated 4-link system
Toxic shocks
VIAIR Compressors notch(10inch)
Performed by JOINTZ custom, Japan

Shaved rear spare tire carrier
Body dropped 2.5 inches
New rear floor section
Painted Standox Apple Red
All new rubbers and seals
Performed by JOINTZ custom

Cobra seats w/ one-off custom rails
Custom 6-inch steering wheel
Custom tall shifter
New pedals and linkage
iPod connection
Performed by JOINTZ custom

Factory Suzuki engine with upgraded intercooler
Custom-built exhaust
Removed transmission transfer
Narrowed rearend
Custom detail work
Performed by JOINTZ custom

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