The Suzuki LT500 ‘Quadzilla’ Is Lost but Not Forgotten

There is one name in the ATV world that nearly every enthusiast you meet––no matter what their age––has heard of at least once. The legendary Suzuki LT500 R Quadracer, or ‘Quadzilla,’ ATV for the 1980s was a catalyst for the up and coming quad market. Even though it was only in production a few short years, this epic speed hungry performance ATV model made a huge name for itself as well as for its Suzuki parentage.

But why was it discontinued? It seems a quad with so much impact and fan loyalty would have made it on a more long-term scale. Let’s take a look at the history of the Suzuki LT500 and learn why it was lost to the ATV market. Maybe we can learn a bit about why this model is so revered by enthusiasts as well.

The Suzuki LT500 ‘Quadzilla’

According to History Garage, the Suzuki LT500 released in 1987 and it quickly earned a reputation as a quick and powerful ATV model. Even now, it’s one of the most legendary names in the ATV community. This beastly throwback model had a massive influence on ATV racing. Plus, it impacted recreational quad riding in a big way.

the legendary quadzilla suzuki LT500 parked in the mud
Suzuki LT500R Quadracer | Dirt Wheels Magazine

“…in 1987 one of the fastest most powerful ATV’s ever made was introduced by Suzuki. They called it LT500 but it quickly earned the nickname ‘Quadzilla’ due to the immense power coming from the 500cc two-stroke engine the size of the quad itself.”

History Garage

The Suzuki LT500 ‘Quadzilla’ was a performance ATV model. It actually still holds the respect of ATV and quad riders everywhere. The LT500 actually shared some components with the LT250R. This Suzuki race quad was a big inspiration for the ‘Quadzilla.’

It’s in a different class of ATV, differing from the workhorse models that we see used for farm and ranch work. These 4×4 beasts are powerful in their own right, but not necessarily built for lightning speed. The Suzuki LT500 hit a top speed of around 80 mph when tested in 1988. But what exactly is it about this performance ATV model that gave it the name ‘Quadzilla?’

This performance ATV model earned the name of a beast

The Suzuki LT500 ‘Quadzilla’ was a beast. It was the first factory two-stroke 500cc quad on the market. It’s the reason we have the insane quads and performance ATV models we have today.

The power band on this two-stroke engine allowed the RPMs to ramp up for a boosted feeling. This feels a bit akin to that of a turbocharged engine. It demonstrated unprecedented power for its time and set the scene for every performance ATV model thereafter.

Today’s quads are influenced by the LT500

Today, we have 500cc and 1000cc workers and racers. The ATV scene sure isn’t what it used to be and––aside from the ‘Quadzilla’ being discontinued––we don’t think that is a bad thing. Each year, manufacturers like Suzuki, Honda, and Polaris release new models that are more capable and powerful than ever.

Performance ATV models certainly learned a thing or two from the Suzuki LT500 ‘Quadzilla.’ According to Dirt Wheels Magazine, the official full name for this influential racing quad was the Suzuki LT500R Quadracer. But after people saw what this thing could do, the nickname stuck. Unfortunately, not everyone respected its power and rode safely. So Suzuki took it off the market to focus on their safer and less powerful models.

the suzuki lt500 quadracer 'Quadzilla' parked in the grass
Suzuki LT500R Quadracer | Dirt Wheels Magazine