In the UK and many other parts of the world, there’s still a decent market for an workhorse farm vehicle that’s low on cost and high on reliability. Samson Engineering in Yorkshire, England decided to step into the breach. CEO Giles Walker said, “When I heard from a lot of people in my local community — many of whom are farmers — about the lack of a suitable small utility SUV on the market, I decided it would be a great opportunity to create one.” The result is the Yomper, a pickup built in five standard guises, based on the third-generation Suzuki Jimny that ended production in 2017.
As for the name, it comes from the British Marines sent to fight the Falklands war in 1982. They “yomped” overland, strapped down with wood-frame backpacks called bergans, to Port Stanley to fight the Argentinians who’d taken the port.
Walker stresses that this isn’t merely a woodshed conversion, but “as close to a new vehicle as possible.” Samson’s been in business for more than 40 years, and takes its development and engineering tasks seriously. The company strips the Jimny to its frame rails, sandblasts the rails and applies a protective coating to the frame members and the underbody. Wheelbase options are either the Jimny’s standard 88.6-inch span for the Subaru Brat-like Bergan trim or a stretched 108.3-inch span for the Commercial drop-side chassis cab. Payload capacity is 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) for the Commercial trim, 300 kg (661 pounds) for the Bergan. An optional tow hitch is rated to pull 750 kg (1,653 pounds).
The 1.3-liter engine is torn down and rebuilt, and components that hang on the rails are bolted back on with new mountings and bushings. The suspension is converted to adjustable GAZ shocks that add a two-inch lift, and get new bushings plus castor correction. The rear brakes are converted from drums to discs. The front of the Jimny bodywork is retained, but Samson welds on a strengthened rear bulkhead. Every Yomper is road-legal, and is compliant with Great Britain’s Individual Vehicle Approval, which is government-backed certification of a vehicle’s construction, and comes with a 12-month warranty for parts and workmanship.
One of the best things about the Yomper is that it can be had for around the same price as a late-build third-gen Jimny in decent condition in the classifieds, including the price of the donor car. The third-gen Jimny entered the market in 1998 and a cost-effective Yomper would use one of those earlier chassis. However, the little ute has had the kind of teardown and rebuild to make it like new. A 2017 Jimny with around 30,000 miles goes for about £17,000 ($22,870 U.S.) on Autocar UK. Samson has some models for sale, a JMV225B Bergan asking £16,995, a JMV275 Commercial asking £17,995 ($24,209 U.S.). There’s an EV version available as well, that price not disclosed. And this is all only only where things begin, Samson saying it can customize to any customer preference.