Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Raider

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Remember the Raider? No, you don’t. Nobody remembers the Raider, because this one that I found yesterday at a self-service wrecking yard near Denver was the only Raider Dodge ever sold.

All right, Chrysler probably moved a few more rebadged first-gen Mitsubishi Monteros out of the showrooms, but it’s hard to think of an example of Japan/Detroit badge engineering that vanished into more complete obscurity than this one. Maybe the Toyota Cavalier comes close, but supposedly there are (dozens of) avid fans of the Cavalier in Japan.

Anecdotal evidence (from everyone I’ve ever known who has owned or worked on a Montero) suggests that these trucks weren’t quite as reliable as, say, Blazers and Broncos. In fact, the expletive-heavy anecdotes that I’ve heard about the first-gen Montero suggest that the world would be a better place if they’d all been driven directly from the assembly line into the jaws of The Crusher. Members of the Pajero Jihad, feel free to tell us about your 900,000-trouble-free-mile Raiders.

This truck was powered by the 2.6 liter Astron engine, the same one used in the Plymouth Arrow and (in turbocharged form) the Mitsubishi Starion.

My shot of the odometer didn’t come out, but this truck’s life ended with about 175,000 miles on the clock.

Such a macho name!

It seemed appropriate that F-16s from nearby Buckley AFB were screaming low overhead as I contemplated the warlike name of this piece of automotive history.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • ApK253wa ApK253wa on Dec 02, 2013

    I always thought it'd be cool to own a Dodge Raider or a Daihatsu Rocky (remember those?). Both were rugged-looking little trucks with badass names and were uncommon enough to stand out from the crowd. The downside would have to be parts availability, especially now that it's been over 20 years since they quit making them.

  • Paintedfool Paintedfool on Jan 05, 2014

    I have an 87 Dodge Raider (non-running)that my family would like to send out to scrap. I grew up with this car, purchased new from the dealership and it was awesome to drive. The main reason I don't want to scrap it is that it was in a movie with Claude Skins called Pushed Too Far. While he didn't drive it, the main family drove it across the Greenfield, Indiana courthouse lawn. We have a VHS tape of the movie somewhere. It was a B film if you ever saw one. Quite possibly C quality. If you know of anyone interested, this is free to a good home, provided you pick it up. We are located outside of Columbia, SC. Please let me know if you are interested, or if there is a better website for this. Thanks, Dylan

    • Papi Papi on Apr 26, 2014

      if you still have it email me patohara84@live.com I have one im fixing would love another

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.