Generation 1 Jimny history – an Australian perspective
This is part of a broader article going through the history of the Jimny in Australia. Here we focus on the beginning with the LJ series.
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Although the Jimny first launched in 1970 in Japan, some articles report Australia’s first official taste was in 1975 with the introduction of the LJ50. It was a sales success, selling ~12,000 cars in the first few years of sales. The larger 800cc LJ80 came later on in the 70s.
There is advertising for at least LJ20s from the early 70s so obviously they made it here, too. I can’t seem to find anything for LJ10s except in newspapers from Papua New Guinea. If anyone has any press materials related to the really early introductions into Australia, e.g. from car publications not archived by Trove, then let me know!
As the Victor Harbour Times is one of the better archived papers by Trove, these two ads represent the earliest I could find LJ20 advertisements.
One of the rare articles discussing the launch of the LJ50 can be found in the January 1975 edition of Modern Motoring. Here they absolutely rave about the wonderful new small machine for both its low price and how highly capable it is. The article also states it (the LJ50) was launched in August, presumably August 1974. The importance of this new model to the readers is best shown by the fact the full colour photo spread was the little Suzuki,
Suzuki’s off-beat off-roaders, they really work! (Modern Motor, January 1975)
Very few car section articles appeared for the first generation so mostly we can go off ads for the LJ50/LJ50V. The first example comes from the same issue of Modern Motoring that the launch article for the LJ50 appeared in.
For people who (still) complain about pricing differentials: that one shows the difference between the recommended retail price and the on-the-road cost in Canberra! It’s also good to get the better quality version of the ad photo out of the magazine version.
The final iteration of the LJ series came with the larger 800cc engine, producing the LJ80. This gradual increase in capacity brought with it better performance and better sales.
The sales success as well as the history of the first model is really highlighted with this article from the Canberra Times. The 1978 price of $4800 inflation adjusts to ~$25 700 in 2019 or $27 900 in 2022 – and based on other car prices at the time is probably a price before dealer costs and on road costs are brought into it.
The success of the LJ series (~25 000 cars sold – see below) brought on generation 2 and the Sierra name for the Jimny.