Getting One’s Hands Dirty

“Most of my projects, either professional or personal, are somehow rather virtual” said Christian Leyk of coquine![design], and he continues: “Designing a new motor yacht for a client or dreaming how my future house might look like, it all happens in my head or on the computer. Sometimes you just need something to get your hands dirty….”

Restoring his first car after when it became obvious to him that otherwise it would get eaten away by rust was a valuable hands-on experience to the designer. Now he found himself a new challenge: “The Suzuki LJ80 is the perfect starting point. It’s not as ‘serious’ as an old Maserati, Jaguar or even Triumph might be. There is a certain heritage to be found in this little 4×4 which puts a smile on everybody’s face. It’s all fun, especially driving in summer with the roof down and without doors. It is different from the ‘big guys’ like Jeep and Land Rover, too, that’s why it kicked off the off-road car boom in the Eighties.
It became clear to me that this would not be a ‘true to the last bolt’ kind of restoration. It’s more like a re-birth: Keeping the balance of modern technology and old character, love-worthy little weaknesses, acceptable modifications and necessary improvements. It’s the re-creation of a modern classic within a reasonable budget, adding the right amount of ‘honest’ nostalgia in order to build a new old Suzuki LJ80.”

While it might sound like another designer’s crazy ideas, it should prove to be a very interesting exercise. “I want to handle this the same way I would handle any professional project, except that I would be designer, project manager and builder at the same time. It’s a bit like a sandbox experiment, which allows me to experience every aspect of the whole project from the creative part to the financial aspects, quality control and organisation. This should become a good model study and I wouldn’t be surprised to gain valuable experience. And, besides, it’s going to be fun!”

In other words, Christian took a Suzuki LJ80, built in 1981, which had suffered from various attempts of modifications and patching by previous owners. Then he took it apart… Now he’s in the middle of a lot of cleaning, de-burring, polishing, repairing, replacing, tinkering… you get the idea. An in the end it should be fit for the road again, but not as originally built. “It’s going to be more like as if it has been built in the 60′s. Like a Triumph TR4 or a Maserati Tipo61.” Oh well, good luck!