Suzuki Multicab – the ginger winger


We spent a day wandering around the Suzuki Multicab yards of Davao in January 2010. It must have been a Sunday (or a Saturday afternoon) because most of the yards were locked and uninterested in opening, even for a surefire deal. All-trac were open, and their vehicles were the cleanest looking and best presented. All good until we tried to start the one we were most interested in. The engine turned over in a lively fashion without a hope of firing up. We were assured that it would be serviced before delivery and we went off to get the cash. I should have been suspicious that the collection time was set for closing time. The All-trac team couldn’t wait to get us out of the yard so that they could lock the gates behind us. The little Suzuki was ok on the way to the ferry, but not as zippy as I expected it to be. By the time we were driving the lanes of Samal it was getting a bit sick and struggling to get up the hills…or along the flats…downhill was great though! Over the next couple of days the Suzuki got sicker and died on the side of the road twice. We had to buy a new fuel pump from a guy who couldn’t believe his luck selling to a rich westerner (I’m not rich, but nobody believes that), and All-trac did at least give us a new pump which we intended to hold as a spare…until the replacement broke too and it was rushed into use within a week. The problem is recurring (fuel delivery) and usually happens at the bottom of the tank, so the best solution until we get the tank cleaned is to keep it topped up with fuel. My diagnosis is that the openings to the tank weren’t adequately sealed during shotblasting of the body shell prior to painting. The tank is probably full of metal and paint and needs flushing. In the meantime, the Multicab is a great little looker with alloys a tangerine paint job and apparently can carry a lot of small Filipinos – just keep the petrol tank full, please!

Suzuki Multicab, it couldn\’t be more orange if it tried

Ginger with wings

…so we bit the bullet and bought this stylish little Suzuki pick-up. These are imported in bulk (2nd hand) from Japan. they have then to be converted from right- to left-hand drive. Only fitted with 660cc engines, they’re not a major drain on the planet’s oil reserves and being orange and having wing-shaped windows on the side of the canopy, who can complain?

The Ginger Winger on the ferry leaving Samal for Davao.

 

Some of the loads you see carried on these poor little beasts of burden

Some of the loads you see carried on these poor little beasts of burden

 

About 3x as long as the vehicle!

About 3x as long as the vehicle!

 

A local millipede for scale

A local millipede for scale

 

Where the sick multicabs go on Samal

Where the sick multicabs go on Samal

 

You've heard of Motorcity, this is Multicabcity

You’ve heard of Motorcity, this is Multicabcity

For those looking for a bit more comfort and a lot more get-up-and-go than the Ginger Winger (above), it’s difficult in the Philippines to get any accurate information on the cars you see for sale at the yards or on the internet (and here ). The year of the car mostly seems to relate to when it was first registered in this country. To some extent, this is reasonable, especially if it is a Frankenstein car rebuild from Japan – the parts probably spanning a decade. You do see some unbelievable old dross mutton masquerading as ‘lamb’! And like a lady of a certain age, pretending that their mileage is a mere fraction of what is realistic.

It’s also difficult to establish engine size here. It’s a basic and important piece of information, usually dispensed with some pride by owners in the UK, US or other western countries. Here, you ask “What engine size is it?” And the most likely answer you’ll get is “Twelve valves.” Even if you persist, you’ll never get the cubic capacity of the engine. In all likelihood, because the owner/dealer doesn’t know. Most multicabs are 660cc, 3-cylinder engines. They come in either two- or 4-wheel drive, manual or automatic gears. For their size and engine size, they are incredible little vehicles.

So for the discerning buyer, here’s a short introductory article from NZ about the ‘multicab’ style of vehicles you are likely to consider if buying in the Philippines. Take a good look at the price quoted for the Suzuki Carry (NZ$2000) which is around P65-70,000. Here, you’d be lucky to get a locally rebuilt hybrid (from a pile of rusty old parts) for much less than P190,000. This is because the government imposes a 100% tax on all imported vehicles (including trucks, cars and motorbikes), supposedly to protect the local motor industry. There is no local motor industry (as the rest of the world would recognise it), instead there is the reassembly industry. Personally, I think that this is holding back the rest of the country’s economy. Unreliable old vehicles, failing to efficiently move goods and people around the islands. The government, in my honestly held opinion, would do the country a favour to reconsider it’s import tax policy.

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This article has been on the site for almost 4 years and still receives a steady number of visits. At the same time, I’ve spent so many hours looking at advertisements for Multicabs on the Filipino version of Ebay that I’ve learned just how unknowledgeable / misleading the advertisers of Multicabs are. So, as a service to advertisers and buyers, here’s an Idiot’s Guide (abbreviated from the Wikipedia Suzuki Carry page) to the complicated multiplicity of Multicabs on the Philippine secondhand car market. Suzuki Multicabs (or minivans) are also more accurately described as Carry, Scrum, or Every.

One of the most persistent lies relates to the age of the vehicle. I have just a little sympathy for the sellers, as so few vehicles are sold new in the Philippines. Most are smuggled into the country via the smaller ports of the 7000 island archipelago; are shifted in cardboard boxes or containers to scrapyards where the best and the worst of parts are reassembled and sold to hapless customers. The date for this miss-match of parts is the date of registration in the Philippines which has no relation to the year of manufacture of any of the parts. Thus, it’s possible to get a 1999 bodyshell on a 1992 ladder-frame with a 1984 engine (and 1981 gearbox) being described on Ayos Dito as a 2006 Model Year, because it found its way onto the LTO register in 2006.

 

Based on the vehicles I’ve seen on the roads and local ads, these are the models you are most likely to see for sale in the Philippines:

Eighth generation (1985–1991)

1986–1993 Suzuki Super Carry van
1990-1991 facelifted Carry (DA51T)
1990 Suzuki Every 660 PS Turbo Aero-tune (DA51V

Ninth generation (1991–1999)

1991-1993 Suzuki Every 660 Turbo RZ Super Multi Roof (DE51V)
Facelifted 1993-1999 Suzuki Carry Van (DE51V)

Tenth generation (1999-2005)

1999-2002 Suzuki Carry truck
Suzuki Every + 001.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer Maruti Suzuki
Also called Suzuki Every Plus
Maruti Versa
Production 1999-2005 (Japan)
2001–2009 (Maruti)

 

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On our previous visit, we borrowed a friend’s Datsun pick-up to get around, freeing us from the bus routes and stop-start bus journeys. The old Datsun cut our journey time between Lupon and Davao in half. But despite the two benches in the back, it was a fair weather vehicle which could be uncomfortable in the midday sun or a tropical downpour.

For posterity, the old Datsun that wouldn’t die…

On a property scouting trip around Lupon\’s rice fields and coconut farms

The old Datsun pick up on the Davao-Samal ferry

The tailgate says Nissan, but the grill says Datsun. Here the old girl rests at the entrance to Hagimit Falls

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5 thoughts on “Suzuki Multicab – the ginger winger

  1. Sir,you are telling the thruth and nothing but the thruth,,,,we have the same problem..But we buy our car in BUTUAN,,..

  2. God, if I had stumbled on this blog almost a year ago I wouldn’t have bought our Every. It already has lots of problems and the worst is the leaking gas. Right now I’m still scouting for a fuel float that cost around P30k.. I’m more than pissed, considering that we bought the vehicle for 280K in cold cash!

    • Could be the start of a whole new Multicab blog! It’s a shame because they are fantastic little vehicles. It’s just that by the time they arrive in the Philippines they are clapped out and the remanufacturers leave a lot to be desired.

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