Unverified Ownership My rare but nobody cares hot hatch - 2001 Suzuki Baleno GSR

Andeh

is teahte tbungafloed
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So far this year, I've purchased a 1930 Austin 7, and a 1929 Chrysler 75. I've sold a 1989 Rover Mini, and a 1927 Chrysler 60.

Logically then, the next sensible step is to purchase a near enough unheard of hot (warm) hatch from the early oughts that's been off the road for eleven years.

A good friend of mine runs two Baleno estates, which I have alluded to or posted about before. I've worked on them, enjoyed driving them, and came to appreciate the robust quality of these cars, one of which is now well in excess of 250,000 miles despite years of neglect.

As such I have a saved search for Balenos, they're very few and far between in this country, and hoovering up remaining ones for spares is a useful exercise, I bought an estate for £50 a few years back from a farm in Wales, and it more than repaid itself many times over in spares.

Last week a Baleno GSR popped up. It's a hatchback, meaning it's not particularly useful for keeping the estates on the road, but it shares the same 1.8 16v Suzuki J18 engine, so that's a bonus. There was a single picture, so I asked the seller for some more.

It was too good to break. One family from new, used for 9 years by the owner's aunt before she sold it to him. He then laid it up in a garage until today, intending to keep the car as a future classic. The vendor losing storage space meant it was presented to the market through the most glamorous of channels, Facebook Marketplace.

I don't really need another a car, I certainly don't need another project which requires recommissioning, but it played on my mind for a few days. These cars are easy to break, and at the price it was at, was very vulnerable. Who else was going to save this rare Suzuki? What fate beset it? I felt sorry for a car I'd never even seen.

So I viewed it at the weekend. It is very clean, the interior does not look like it's seen 90,000 miles at all. The 'Bluish-black pearl' paint looked like it would come back to life easily, despite a few storage marks. Underneath was a lot of quite heavy surface corrosion on the subframes, roll bars and other components, but nothing had rotted through, and the monocoque itself was absolutely mint. These Suzukis have incredibly good bodies, let down with cheap components bolted to them.

I took a battery and air compressor with me. Put some air in the tyres, fit the battery, and turned the key. Started in seconds, despite being turned over for at least two years. A top end noise which sounded like a stuck lifter cleared once the oil warmed through and the overall impression was of a sound engine. Clutch and brakes were free and it rolled out of the garage for the first time in a long while.

It was like a Johnny Smith barn find, but with much less drama, and no fleece.

Anyway, I've waffled enough, a price was agreed and I'm collecting it at the weekend. It can live next to the Suzuki X-90 in the garage over winter until I get around to it in the spring. Hopefully this rare little nugget will give me a similar fizzy feeling to the MX5 I regret selling. Should be a fun back road blaster, 120hp, 990kg.

They made 500 Baleno GSRs for the UK. This is 1 of 76 remaining, of which only 19 are on the road.

I'm afraid I only took three pictures, more once I collect. Plus a better one from the listing which was taken in happier times when it was roadworthy.

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Andeh

is teahte tbungafloed
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One day we'll look back and wish for cheap little cars like this.
That was part of the appeal actually. 80% of my mileage is in the Mach-E now, and I yearn for something small, light, cheap and fun.

Arguably I have two Fiestas already filling that niche, but this is different.
 

gaasc

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Captain Slow Charging
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Great buy! Especially if it doesn't need much work. 1.8 liters in something Starlet sized is a good recipe :p

The hatchbacks are also very rare, you only really ever saw the sedans and the wagons here.
 

Andeh

is teahte tbungafloed
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Collected yesterday. It's really quite nice, unfortunately quite a few small scratches and dents from where bikes and other garage detritus was leant on it over the years, but most should polish out. Given it an oil and filter change, plus fuel filter and a little fresh petrol. Runs quite nicely now. Washed and into storage for next year!
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Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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It looks really honest. Nothing normal is going to be scratch-free, my Freelander has the same 'old black car' syndrome where it looks nice from a distance but it has lots of little scratches up close. I filled some with a black paint marker.

If it was mine I would be changing that CD player for a black cassette player. :p
 
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