Category Archives: Mitsubishi

Montero has flair-o

Bitchin' Mitsu

Bitchin’ Mitsu

Feral Cars fan Byron Laursen writes to tell us about his 1990 Mitsubishi Montero. It was Mitsu’s entry in the burgeoning market for Japanese-built SUVs a few decades back when everybody and his uncle fielded a contender.   Remember the Isuzu Trooper?  The Daihatsu Rocky?  Suzuki Sidekick?

We’ll let Byron jump in here.

The Vietnam War was a real good thing for Mitsubishi. They built our armed forces a passel of Army Jeeps for the Southeast Asian Fog-of-War Follies, and then had beaucoup R&D funds for their subsequent stabs at America’s domestic market.

            Probably inspired by Ford’s Bronco and International Harvester’s Scout, and thoroughly schooled in building rugged off-roaders, they engineered a four-wheel drive machine with discretely feralicious macho appeal. Not so much hip as square of line in a Range Rover-emulating way, stealing Brit influence years before the Mazda Miata riffed on the Lotus Elan shape.

            To suggest it had lithe, big-cat manners crossing rugged terrain, they called it the Mitsubishi Pajero, after the South American Pampas Cat – or Leopardus Pajero to biology majors. Then someone told them about Mexican slang, that fecund zone of the Spanish language, in which “pajero” means “he who pummels his own pestle,” “he who wrassles his own wombat,” or “he who massages his own monsignor.”

            Pajero badges disappeared, and instead the Mitsubishi Montero (meaning something like Mountain Man) was shipped to most Mitsu-selling destinations. In the UK, showrooms held  Mitsubishi Shoguns.

            The breed lasted from 1982 to 2006 in the US. This 1990 example loiters in Santa Ynez, a Sideways country town north of Santa Barbara, where its a “valley car,” a hauler in semi-retirement, approaching 200K on the odometer, running local errands and seldom traversing the mountains for which this former rock-crawler is named.

            Mitsubishi sold about three hundred thousand of these first-generation models, then sheepishly rounded off the square corners in 1991 and onward, until their Montero eventually began to, like everybody else’s Cute Ute, be drained of its former feralocity.



  It’s powered by a three-liter V6 and features a dash-mounted Tilt-o-meter, essentially a painted orb bobbing in fluid, only able to give accurate readings when the car is stock-still. So it can’t tell you when you’re about to tip over, but it will let you know when you already have.

Different breed of dog

Different breed of dog

            The jokey license plate frame describes the niche Mitsubishi was trying to grab –something jaunty, yet much cheaper than the notoriously unreliable Brit snob wagon, which was equally squarish but designed to make owners come off like Country Squires, and not the FoMoCo variety. The firefighter decal dates to a previous owner, but remains as an effective ticket-deflector. What local cop would ever write up a volunteer fireman?

Did you know that Chrysler offered a badge engineered version of the Montero?  They called it the Dodge Raider and, despite conjuring up the most macho NFL-sanctioned thuggery, it found virtually no buyers.  A Montero by any other name just didn’t smell right.   Our friends at Bring A Trailer found one on Ebay.  Get your bid in now if you’d like this anomaly in your carport and here’s a period  TV commercial for Montero that makes the case that its off-road attributes are appropriate for the urban jungle.  Cute but, ahem, we have no truck with that assertion.

If you’ve stalked (or own) a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Going, going, gone the way of the dodo and the Daihatsu?

Our friends at Hagerty Insurance have an ongoing web series called “Threatened, Endangered, Extinct”  wherein certain vehicles, once quite commonplace, are singled out for their rarity or the non-existence of examples found other than on scrap heaps.  It’s right up our alley here at  We’re in the business of celebrating the uniquely ordinary — an oxymoron, perhaps, on par with “irregular pattern” and “mournful optimist,” so this is of consummate interest. We offer several candidates for one or the other of those categories. When was the last time you saw a ’77 Chrysler LeBaron coupe?

Thought so!

Thought so!

What about an ’87 Dodge Colt Vista?  A Mitsubishi-built cross between a mini van and a station wagon. Perhaps utilitarian but definitely proportionally challenged and rarely, if ever, seen these days.

Horse of a different color

Goofy looking horse of a different color

Check out Hagerty’s latest (video) episode which covers the mid-70s Mercury Grand Marquis (Threatened), Isuzu Impulse (Endangered) and Fiat Strada (Extinct). What are your candidates for future consideration?

Here’s a list of previous T,E,E nominees: 1984 Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Caravan, 1978 – 80 Oldmobile Starfire Firenza, 1986 – 87 Renault GTA (heck, just about all Renaults belong on the list), 1974 Olds Toronado, 1979 – 80 Plymouth Fire Arrow, 1975 – 1981 VW Scirocco, 1971 – 74 Mazda RX-2, 1981 – 85 Chevy Citation X-11, 1963 – 66 Studebaker Wagonaire, 1979 – 81 Toyota Supra, 1974 – 81 VW Dasher, 1985 – 85 Chrysler Laser XE, 1983 – 86 Chrysler Executive (K car-based!) Executive Limo, 1971 Plymouth Cricket, 1988 – 89 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo, 1980 Dodge St. Regis, 1984-85 Ford EXP Turbo, 1985 – 87 Renault Alliance Convertible, 1987 – 91 Sterling 825/827 — extra credit if you saw one of these in ’92!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com                                                                                                                            Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted.