Join Date: Dec 2000
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Re: What would you do...
This is a hard call. Personally, I'd go for the lower mileage Samurai, the 88. But, if you like AC or feel you need it then the 88.5 might be the better choice.
There are a few differences between the two. Aside fom the obvious interior differences, the 88.5 has a softer spring pack so it's supposed to ride a little better. However, when doing a SPOA a lot of people pull the teflon pads (what makes it softer) out. The 88.5 also has a regeared transmission that gives you a little better 5th. On the down side, the 88.5 has a larger flange on the t-case, driveshafts and axles. This isn't much of a PITA unless you like having spare parts around as the larger flange stuff is harder to get.
You don't mention if either of these are JXs or not. Personally, I like the subtle interior differences of the JX over the nonJX.
I still think I'd lean towards the 88 as it has about 50K less miles on it and would make a nice build/driver project. If this is your first Sami you might want to drive it a while in it's stock form. You just might be impressed enough with it as it is that you'd want to keep it that way for a bit.
Just my 2 cents.
AARRRRRRRG! 1987 Red JX 'vert, 4.5 BREEZE SPOA, SJ410 T-case, 31 BFG M/T knock offs, extended shackles (1.6 - 16V eventually)