The Heap. A Gen 2 Tracker/Vitara Build


It seems I may be dragging a cheap, beat up 2-door Gen 2 Tracker home this weekend for a wheeler/TOAD vehicle build.

Anyone have one? It seems like it is essentially the same as the previous Geo Tracker, only (slightly) bigger and with more power (2L)

UPDATED 6-22-2024
Initial purchase cost $1200
Total parts and machine shop work to date $6748

ALL IN TOTAL : $7948

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It seems I may be dragging a cheap, beat up 2-door Gen 2 Tracker home this weekend for a wheeler/TOAD vehicle build.

Anyone have one? It seems like it is essentially the same as the previous Geo Tracker, only (slightly) bigger and with more power (2L)
Yep, I have a 2000 vitara that I think is the same rig as that. i haven’t had it that long but I’m pretty into it. I was a samurai guy for a couple decades so I kinda dig Suzuki but am a little concerned about parts availability these days. Sucks because literally nothing I know of fits the bill as a car sized rig on a frame with a transfer case other than Suzuki and with their departure from the US seems like parts are always a search.


New member
2002 Chevy Tracker ZR2 , 4-door, 2.5L 6 cylinder checking in. Picked it up with ~80k miles on it this year. The lack of aftermarket parts is a bit frustrating, but there are a few dedicated sites and dealers for mods for these trucks. It's the first car I've ever owned and I plan on it being the only gas-powered one as well. I'm driving this puppy into the ground.
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Aftermarket is a bit limited. Many push to a solid axle swap with toyota axles, front and rear.

Im hoping to avoid that, mainly for weight, and road handling reasons.
These are capable enough already, so I dont need to gain capability and loose road manners.

Still, there is room for changes/improvement.

With the cost of entry for this peach... I wont be afraid to use the plasma cutter. :ROFLMAO:
But in the end it will be as close to a new vehicle (mechanically)
Cab will come off the chassis, all new suspension & steering bits,
refreshed motor & trans, tub stripped and monstalined, etc etc.
I am hoping to fit 31's without a lift of any kind. So trimming will be required.
Im also considering building a fiberglass hard top for it, as the soft top trims are garbage and unobtanium.

And I may as well use thins thread as a "build" thread, though this is a side project, so it will be slow.

Here it is... in all its glory.
And dont let the photos fool you. This thing is BEAT, though mechanically its all there, and is rust free.




Wow, I’m pleasantly surprised you have such big plans for it. mines actually really nice although it’s trying to rust which is weird for it’s age and condition around here (norcal). I’ve just been fixing all the little crap like making all the windows and locks work and that type of annoying stuff but will no doubt mod it or ditch it. Most likely mod it since I like it so much. I’m thinking I’ll do the steel axle housing out of a manual v6 (mines a 2.0 auto). Maybe old man emu suspension with a little body lift to clear tires, arb air lockers front and rear and armor and I think it would be a blast. Oh and low transfer case gears. I’ll be watching your build and hope others join in


Your list sounds more $$ambitious$$ than mine :ROFLMAO:

I'm just after a lightweight capable wheeler that I can depend on.
And history has taught me that with high mileage used vehicles, if I don't tear it down and redo it myself... :oops:

And fortunately, the body is in rough enough shape that I wont be worried about beating on it a bit once done!


I have a 2001 Grand Vitara that is my daily driver. Great simple rig that has been super dependable for ten years. I put manual hubs on the front axles but that is all since it's my DD. I have a manual trans which seems pretty rare for these rigs. For crawling the auto would be better as the low range is really not very low at all.



This one is a 5-speed manual.
And Ill be tossing manual hubs on it, so we can flat tow it behind the camper. (y)

Are you GV hubs factory? Im eyeing options (aftermarket) but would prefer an OEM option if the price isnt too ludicrous.


Does it have the steel front end? You’ve probably seen the pj one on pirate if you’ve looked around at all and the way his aluminum one broke looked pretty weak. I think with good tires and the steel housing I’d feel pretty confident. I haven’t wheeled mine much because it came with brand new car tires that I’m sure would pop in short order. i put a hitch on it and it moves trailers around like a forklift which is pretty handy for me


This one def does NOT have the steel front axle housing.

For now Im not concerned. If I destroy it, Ill consider my options.
Sourcing a steel one isnt easy. So Id then consider tossing some Toyota axles under it.

But I really dont want this thing to be very tall. And a basic SAS raises them considerably.


kodiak conversionator
Fun project congrats on the find. I’m thinking of this type of toad also but also vaguely considering a mini or even Miata. Vaguely because I have two projects already ?. Have fun!


New member
No rust?! Lucky you! I picked up a 2000 4 door (189,000mi, 2.0L and 5 speed) earlier this year for a cheap daily that I could use as a toad also. Sadly the rockers were way worse then I expected... it always the stuff you cant see until its to late. I cut off what remained of the rocker and instead of trying rebuild it I welded in 2x6 tubing on both sides. stronger and faster to weld in. Its been a great little truck so far.

I drive ~100mi a day and since its my daily I stuck with 235/75/15 tires so that I don't harm the MPG to bad. I have just done basic repair and maintenance so far but next up on the upgrade list are the manual hubs, and possibly some added sound deadening after winter ?


yeah, it is remarkable just how rust free this one is.
Absolutely beat, and high mileage, but rust free.

I'm still considering my options for wheels/tires.
I'm not totally sold on the 31's, mainly due to the gearing limitations for these.
So for now, I think I will stick with 235/75-15's, or 30x9.5's

Here are some starting photos of this party wagon....

I have already gutted the interior. NASTY.
Nasty enough that the seats themselves might be a write-off.
Easy enough to fab up some mounts for some universals, or clean junkyard take-offs.
Top is in the garbage as well, but only the rear. The front top is intact and in great shape.

Up next is tearing the front end apart to massage the drivers side front inner fender,
in order to correctly fit the headlight, grille, and fender.







Well, started the first portion of the tear down.

Priority #1 is to straighten the drivers front inner fender.
I had reshaped the headlight bucket thinking I was close...

But once the front fenders were both removed, its clear I have much more work to do.
I'm considering hitching it and the truck up to a couple of trees and using the 15k winch on the truck to help me out :LOL:

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be pretty. Only functional to the point of bolting everything back up correctly.

Again, remarkable just how rust free this thing is, as in zero rust.




The passenger side, for comparison....



Bit of backyard body work goin' on...

Strap the tracker to a tree, weld a bit of scrap to it to pull from, and introduce it to the business end of the 15k winch on the truck.
Actually worked a heck of a lot better than anticipated. Inner fender structure is straightened, and the front body mount lines up again.

Just a bit more hammer work and it will be good to go






After (y)


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