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Unique Ex-Barry Sheene Suzuki Jimny Resurfaces

Suzuki’s Great Briton arm has announced the return of a unique piece of racing history, with the firm taking possession of the Suzuki LJ80 Jimny originally supplied to Motorcycle Legend and double 500cc Champion Barry Sheene in 1979.

“We are very excited and proud to own this famous vehicle again some 42 years after we supplied it to Barry Sheene and his racing team, Suzuki GB PLC Managing Director, Nobuo Suyama said.

“With 1979 being our first year of car sales in the UK, this now has pride of place in our showroom and will be used at our cross-divisional events in the future along with the collection of race motorcycles. Our thanks again to the team at Silverstone Auctions for making us aware of this important car in our global company history which spans 102 years and Suzuki Motor Corporation celebrated 50 years of its iconic four-wheel drive vehicles in 2020.”

The little Jimny was owned by Barry Sheene (1950-2003) and his race team in recognition of his time as a Works rider. The light Blue LJ was used as a circuit Pit vehicle at his races and for promotional work during this period before being privately owned by the family and used at their farm in Surrey until 1987.

Due to its time as a farm hack, the Pastel Blue and red striped car with its famous number 7 decals was in a state of disrepair after being found stored in a barn covered in Hay Bales and was extensively and well restored by the next owner, an ex-Suzuki Marketing Director who returned the LJ to its exact specification.

The car was later sold privately and then purchased by Suzuki Dealer CMW in Sussex who used it for showroom display with some occasional road use. In 2013 it was sold at auction into a private collection of road and race cars and recently came up again in the Silverstone Auctions catalogue for a sale being held at the NEC Classic Car Show.

As a very important part of its company history and to accompany the collection of Sheene’s race motorcycles, Suzuki wasted no time in heading to the NEC. The famous LJ80 attracted a high level of interest at the show and after a brief but busy auction, Suzuki made the winning bid to secure the car.

The LJ80 is powered by an 800cc four-cylinder engine and, with a little choke applied to its carburettor, started the first time and was driven out of the NEC. It features a soft top hood with removable side screen doors and has Suzuki’s well-renowned high and low ratio gears for off-road use.


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