These cars were imported intot he UK in the late 80's in relatively small numbers, mainland Europe appear to have received a lot more of them. It had a lot of features in common with other buggies available at the time i.e. chain drive, space frame chassis. However chain drive was dying out and the technlogy existed to make reliable/affordable rubber drive belts that we all enjoy (to varying degrees) today.
The plastic space frame chassis, trailing rear arms and the motor/gearbox mounted at the back are reminiscent of Tamiya's classic The Frog. It was also "blessed" with a front mono shock, it took a few more years for manurafturers to realise that cars andle a lot better with a shock on each corner! A mono shock does give the car a very clean looking front end though. The chain drive is in a single loop and joins the front and rear bevel diff's. It has to be fitted in a particular way other wise it will damage the gears and the chain. The most complicated part of the car Is the rear diff'/gearbox, an assmebly manual is very handy if you intend to rebuild it.
A chain drive car is immediately at a disadvantage when compared to a belt/shaft drive car, the friction in the transmission is considerable. The chain tension has to be adjusted, if it's too tight the chain stretches ans slows the car down. If it's too slack it shreds everything it touches e.g. the battery pack, small furry creatures etc
The first time I drove one of these in anger was at the TC Winter at Clumber Park, I was pleasantly suprised. I had fitted a Reedy MVP stock motor (27x1) and a ESC - it was bloody quick. The transmssion is very noisy. The handling is pretty typical for an off road 4WD buggy, a little bit of understeer which can be controlled by coming off the throttle. This could be improved with a bit of fine tuning with the anti roll bars and shock oils etc. The kit tyres are quite hard and work well in most conditions.
Samurais are generally very strong and light cars, due to the framed chassis. Marui makes a big play on the lightness of the car, it declares it weighs in at 1,050 grammes ready to run!
There isn't much you can do to a Samuari, to my knowledge no after market parts were made for it (please correct me if I'm wrong). So you're limted to ball racing it. The experience of ball racing a Sanurai can only be described as "painful" - in a number of ways. Stripping and reassembling these things is comparatively difficult and the majority of the ball races are an unusual size, this makes them hard to get hold of and costly. However the car really does benefit from it. The kit plastic bushings appear to wear very quickly, this leads to a lot of "slop" in the drivetrain, which accelerates the wear even further. Fitting the alloy steering knuckles from the Marui Ninja is a good idea as it strngthens a weak are on the car.
I would summarise the car as a dated but capable off roader, that is at home racing with other vintage cars but is outclassed by modern cars. I love them