An excerpt from "Classic 4x4s" (Illustrated Buyer's Guide):
This pint-sized powerhouse was offered for sale in the Untied States from 1971 to late 1973 and possibly into 1974. the Brute is a direct ancestor of the Samurai that is now undergoing a popular revival after U.S. sales stopped in 1995. The Brute was offered for sale by the Intercontinental Equipment Corporation, a private distributor in San Diego, California. Distribution was described as "West Coast" and the dealer "network" concentrated in California, Nevada, and Arizona but there is no doubt that some have found their way east.
The Brute was known elsewhere in the world as the Jimney 360 and debuted in 1970 with the Suzuki model designation of LJ-10. The design dated back to 1965 and the Hope Star ON360. The Hope Star Company had delusions of mini-grandeur but went belly-up rather quickly. Suzuki, known best for motorcycles, was in the midst of an expansion into the car market and bought the designs and tooling. By late 1969, they had re-powered the unit with one of their own engines and added the Jimney to their car lineup.
The Brute was powered by a 360-cc (22-cid), two-cylinder, two stroke 32-horsepower engine. The air-cooled "two-banger" could drive the 1,350-pound Brute to speeds slightly in excess of 55 miles per hour. It was reputed to have excellent cross-country abilities but struggled on the highway.
Late in 1972, a water-cooled version of the same 360-cc engine was offered. The air-cooled engine had suffered from reliability problems when driven hard. With all of 32 horsepower, who wouldn't run it hard! The new engine resulted in more reliability and better fuel economy. Both the air-cooled and water-cooled engine were oil-injected, meaning no mixing of gas and oil---'a la outboard motors. The engines were quiet, lacking that annoying "ringinginginging" sound, especially the water-cooled unit. Suzuki had acquired quite a reputation in the motorcycle arena with powerful two-stroke 380, 550 and 750-cc engines, and this technology went into the Brute.
In addition to the soft top, Suzuki built a hardtop and a pickup version. In 1973, the hardtop sold for $2,800 and the soft top for $2,400. As far as the records show, only the soft top and later the hardtops were imported by IEC. A few pickups have been seen in the United States but these came from Hawaii where the full line was imported.
By the end of 1973, IEC had stopped importing the Brute. It's possible that the ever-more stringent EPA regulations finally caught up with them. Perhaps sales were not what was expected. Who knows. It would be interesting to learn whether sales stopped before or after the Arab oil embargo of 1973.
The Brute is an oddball orphan that may have few prospects. Oddly, many parts are still available through Suzuki dealership sources. The upswing in Samurai popularity in the hardcore off-road crowd may trickle down to the old Brute. For now, the Brute must live in the relative obscurity.