By on December 17, 2013

18 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo, out of the entire series of Junkyard Finds, which goes back three years and includes more than 600 posts, which vehicle has attracted the most readers? Strangely, it’s this 1987 Dodge Raider, which I shot in a Denver yard about a year ago. Why? Perhaps fans of the rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero are especially obsessed devoted, to a degree that the rest of us (I’m sure Raider/Montero/Pajero fans have a derisive nickname for us) will never understand. Anyway, here is exactly the second Raider I’ve seen in a wrecking yard since the start of this series; I found this little gold devil during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area last week.
02 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust 136,000 miles on the clock, but I’m sure they were manly miles.
09 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI don’t recall ever seeing Ram emblems on a Raider before. Could these have been lifted from a Dodge Ram 50 aka Mitsubishi Mighty Max?
08 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMarques in the Chrysler family got pretty hard to follow by the late 1980s, what with all the DNA from AMC, Renault, Mitsubishi, Simca, and assorted second cousins of those badges coursing through the company’s veins at this point. The Raider makes for some good automotive trivia questions, though not quite as weird as questions related to early 1970s captive imports or the greatest Brazilian Chrysler of all time.
01 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI don’t recall hearing about the lawsuits that must have led to these warning labels. Anybody know this story?
14 - 1988 Dodge Raider Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe coolest truck in the Napa High School parking lot!

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35 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1988 Dodge Raider...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    Ah, the Astron engine. An amazing combination of smooth yet noisy as hell.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    astron 2?

    the 2.6 four? power of a four, size of a six, consumption of an eight?

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      That would be the first and most intensive change if I ever come into the ownership of a Starion…out with the Astron, in with a 4G63T.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They put the same engine in the Starion?! That doesn’t seem like a good application. And presumably the Conquest had the same engine.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Yep, the Starion/Conquest came with the 2.6 Astron in America, while Europe, Australia, and Japan could also get the 4G63. The 4G63 is definitely an all around better motor: more durable, more powerful, more economical, and likely a bit lighter than the Astron too.

          • 0 avatar
            April

            I owned a used 88 Ram 50 pickup with the 2.6 engine. Low miles and like new. Right after I purchased it I had the service department at the local Dodge dealer do a long list of preventive maintenance (replacing all the hoses, belts plus new fluids). Unfortunately the mechanic forgot to replace the thermostat like I wanted. Ended up with the stat going from stuck full open to stuck full closed at 55mph. In just about an instant it blew the head gasket and locked up the engine. Dealer could not find a replacement engine anywhere in the states. They ended up buying the truck from me.

            It was a pretty good truck the two weeks I had it.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            April,

            for what it’s worth, the engine as a whole was a piece of shit. at the time it was one of the few 4-bangers with balance shafts, but it was a noisy, screeching beast with a carburetor that should have been taken out back and shot. And the timing chains were known to fail which would stop the oil pump, naturally wrecking the engine in short order.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I had the misfortune of owning an ’86 Montero. The least reliable vehicle I’ve owned. Ever.
    Even worse than a Chevy Citation or Plymouth Reliant K.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I distinctly remember the previous raider junkyard find. I was in Mexico, wanting to put a bullet in my brain, and seeing CJinSD actually compliment a vehicle on TTAC and that woman defend her defender love by telling Murilee to go screw made my day.

    Some old work laptop still has some coffee stains underneath it’s keyboard.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    They were really bad then ? .

    That’s sad as they appear to be the right size , small but roomy , just right for the average Joe and his dog/lunch box /tackle box / tool chest to tool ’round in sipping fuel with the small I4 engine .

    No huh ? .

    Too bad , Chrysler muffed an easy one I guess .

    Trucklets are nice , closed cabs even better .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Except not so much on the fuel economy.

      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/5177.shtml says 15-18 with the manual, and everything else I can see (user reports) online says that’s accurate.

      Not a very fuel-economical engine, it seems, nor an aerodynamic platform.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Local Gallup PE teacher still has one, its his “bad weather” vehicle and is a Dodge Raider just like this one but light blue and likely the nicest one you’ll ever see outside a museum. Can’t figure out how he kept it that nice all these years. I even saw him gassing it up during the last snow storm.

  • avatar
    Feds

    I briefly had an ’84 Mighty Max and it had a sticker on it that said something to the effect of “This vehicle has a half-life of 75,000 kms” I took a picture of it, which I’ll have to try and find.

    Murilee: Why no picture of the HVAC controls? Are there big nosed people on it?

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I wasted all my time writing a story by trying to find it in it’s natural habitat. I think I was close. The time of the google street view changes when you get to the student parking lot…

  • avatar
    JayDub

    Love it when TTAC writes about Monteros!

    Yesterday I returned from my first Mitsu dealer visit in 7 years. $1,000 of small cosmetic/functional fixes, but I want to give Monty what it deserves. This rig has been bulletproof. I live in snowy mountains at 8,000 feet. The truck kicks ass. Does fine in the city as well.

    I’ve posted on here before. I like my 2006 Montero Ltd. way better than my old LandCruiser, or my old Tacoma. 2006 is the best design in IMO.

    I’ll probably replace my current Montero with the…wait for it…next-gen (diesel) Montero. Assuming the styling isn’t too weird. Otherwise I’ll hopefully get a 4×4 Sprinter.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So really you mean 2001+ is the best design, because they didn’t change it save for some headlamp and taillamp shapes, and a different grille.

      And what currency are you referring to? No Montero in the US since 06, and certainly no diesel ones ever.

      • 0 avatar
        JayDub

        In the US, the Montero culminated in 05-06 with improved horsepower, stability, and styling.

        For 05-06, Mitsubishi decided to forgo overwrought design lines. Subtle but cleaner.

        Newer years are even sleeker, yet unavailable in the States.

        According to recent news, the new Montero is forthcoming.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Oh my, fullsize Montero returning to the US, in diesel guise no less? be still my beating heart!

          Test drove a few used 3rd gens at dealers last year, both were completely trashed and overpriced unfortunately. Both had a weird driveline vibration which I think might have something to do with incorrect ATF or diff fluid. These trucks are incredibly particular in terms of correct fluids with the right additives. The ones I drove didn’t feel as well screwed together as my 4runner, then again they were abused. I find the 2nd gen Montero SR to be even more fetching.

          • 0 avatar
            JayDub

            Hmm I’ve never heard of them being particular regarding fluids.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The rear diff absolutely requires DiaQueen for the LSD to work right, and the transmission needs Mitsu’s SPIII, going off what the forums say.

            They’re nice rigs, but have just a bit too much complexity and are rare enough that parts aren’t as easy to get for as a plain-jane Toyota truck. I like having my simple solid rear axle and not IRS.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I never owned one but had several friends that did back in our early 90′s climbing bum days. they seemed to blow head gaskets a lot. I had a Isuzu trooper which was bullet proof all the way to 335k.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Had one for a brief time and loved it. Sure it was tinny and tippy, but it had that fab analog inclinometer that kept begging me to climb stupidly steep hills off-road. Fond memories, possibly because I didn’t keep it long enough for anything to go wrong.

  • avatar
    Yoss

    My second grade teacher had one of these and often talked about how much she loved it. I went to a small school that had K-12 all on the same grounds and she was still driving it when I graduated. Knowing what I do of her I honestly doubt it saw much in the way of maintenance. Interesting family though. Her husband was once lightly mauled by their pet mountain lion.

  • avatar
    hawox

    having learned to drive in a 2nd gen patrol i love what you write about the old pajero.

  • avatar
    Delta9A1

    Owned a 2003 Montero Limited that we bought new in 2004. Engine block needed replaced under warranty within 18 months due to a “spun bearing”, and the electric antenna died often, but otherwise pretty reliable for six years of ownership. Very top heavy, but the 2wd/AWD/4WD/4WDlock/4WDlowlock shift-on-the-fly transmission was really versatile. Could take on anything and keep reasonable mileage in 2WD. Excellent visibility in the “greenhouse”, but quite loud on the highway. 5’3″ wife still says it was better for her than the Enclave we bought to replace it, but the third row on the Montero was only for elementary school age kids.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This may cast some light on the warning sticker.

    http://tntrafficsafety.org/sites/default/files/retro.pdf

    And more critically, this…

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/20/us/ford-ordered-to-pay-damages.html

    Basically, as I remember this (hey, this was 25 odd years ago) makers made the seat belts in the back seat in such a way that they stuck out a bit (for a lack of a better way to explain it) so they wouldn’t slide under the seat, and you would have to dig for them.

    The Ford Escort design was pretty egregious in that it prevented the wearer from putting the seatbelt “low across the waist,” and sat up higher, over the abdomen. The lack of a shoulder belt meant the occupant did a “deep bow” in a significant crash and got spinal injuries from where the seatbelt was located.

    Manufacturers with lap only rear belts had their blood run cold from this 1987 case – and hence the warning stickers, and the attached briefing about retro-install kits.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      That reminds me of several early 90′s cars (Ford Tempo and Ford Escort) I owned. Had those goofy motorized shoulder belts but you still needed to manually fasten the lap belt.

      Really irritating.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        At the time, US law allowed either airbags or motorized shoulder belts to count as “passive restraints”. I always unlatched the shoulder belt before I opened the door on the ’92 Corolla we had back then.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    These things had a hugely favorable reception from the car magazines back then. I remember test driving one in the late 1980′s when my Nissan p/u had 150,000 miles and I figured it was about done. It was a real dog and tippy feeling. People just assumed any Japanese car was dead reliable, back then.

    I couldn’t believe how bad it was compared to the Nissan and the unwarranted hype it received. Bought the Ramcharger instead. Looked up from my desk about a week ago and saw it going down the street, 24 years later.

  • avatar

    You could get these with the 3.0 mitsu v6 as well a little more reliable and a lot more powerful. I had a friend with a 3.0 and a manual tranny you could put it in 4lo and pop wheelies. good times. I still kind of want one of these.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I always thought that these were good looking, well proportioned vehicles with classic, clean 80′s Japanese lines. Too bad Mitsu doesn’t offer one today, it would be a way to set themselves apart.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The Ram badges were standard on these since Dodge did not offer a 2 dr SUV thought they did plan to have a SUV version of the Dakota. The purchase of AMC/Jeep by Chrysler probably put the kibosh on that since it would cut into Jeep, in particular XJ sales.

    My dad considered one of these back in the early 90′s but went for a S-10 Blazer 4.3 instead. Except for the typical paint issues as well as suspension, torsion bar it turned out to be a reliable vehicle.


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