By on March 26, 2016

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

The Dodge Raider was a transparently badge-engineered first-gen Mitsubishi Montero (known as the Pajero in much of the world), available in the United States for just the 1987-89 model years. The Montero wasn’t a big seller and its Raider sibling was a rare sight even in the late 1980s. I find the more obscure Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis fascinating, so I photograph every Raider I see in the junkyard.

We have seen a Ford product and a GM product in this series so far this week, so we’ll finish it up with a Chrysler(-badged) product.

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, speedometer - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

Mitsubishis of this era weren’t known for longevity, but this one got well over 200,000 miles of use. This is a California truck, so there’s no rust.

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, Inclinometer - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

I have long believed that the Montero/Raider inclinometer was one of the coolest gauges ever put in a motor vehicle. Naturally, I have a few of them in my collection of weird junkyard parts, and I will be installing one in my latest junkyard-parts boombox.

1987 Dodge Raider in California junkyard, Engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin / The Truth About Cars

Under the hood, the 2.6-liter Mitsubishi Astron inline-four that went into everything from the Dodge Aries-K to the Mitsubishi Starion.

The first-gen Montero was license-built by Hyundai and sold as the Galloper. These Korean-market ads are among the greatest ever made for a small SUV.

The Japanese-market ad for the first-gen Pajero features a strange mix of macho imagery and schmaltzy music.


Naturally, the American-market ads were far less interesting.

At home in the desert or on the hills of San Francisco (except when you blow the head gasket).

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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28 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Raider...”

  • avatar

    Every time I see an Astron engine, I get flashbacks of that awful Mikuni feedback carb.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe it’s because there weren’t any Mitsubishi dealers where I live, but when I was a kid in the mid-late 90s Raiders always seemed to be more common than Monteros. I didn’t know anyone who had one, but they were still common enough that I wouldn’t call them rare.

  • avatar

    Back in the early 90’s our mechanic named Aldo and his less talented brother, ran a Texaco with a pretty large workshop attached. They had one of these Raiders which I believe was their going fishing truck (pvc pole mounting tubes affixed to bumpers). That shop is where I first got a chance to see a variety of Italian cars including the Pantera and the Alfa GT-V6.

  • avatar

    I bought a new 1987 Dodge Raider with a manual 5 speed from a dealer in Collinsville, Il. They installed the optional a/c for a vehicle that cost about $10,000.00 OTD as I recall. It was the slowest vehicle that I believe I have ever owned with very poor gas mileage (16/17mpg or so). I kept it about 3 years and sold it to my sister who promptly ran it out of oil (demise at early age).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    These were truck based and were not designed for mpgs. Most of these were 4x4s and were designed for off road and to do what trucks do. These are suvs. The Mitsubishi Raider, the Isuzu Trooper, and the Toyota Landcruisers were all suvs.

  • avatar

    The offset hood scoop on the Hyundai version is super weird.

    • 0 avatar

      For the intercooler as I recall. For some reason Jap 4x4s have the intercooler on top of the engine.

    • 0 avatar

      They love the stick-on look of gingerbread bits.

      • 0 avatar

        In this case it was truly functional, for a top-mount air-air intercooler for the turbodiesel engine under the hood.

        • 0 avatar

          I was trying to find a Galloper example of what I meant. But these later gingerbreaded Terracan models will have to do. (Also, I like the Terracan.)

          The trim used to cover the roof rack attachments there is especially poor, on the second example.

  • avatar

    That inclinometer is too cool! definitely not something you see anymore.

  • avatar

    Oh I love that body style Pajero! I dream of just overhauling one with all the good bits I can, ARB etc… And a nice diesel. I want the Mitsubishi version though.

  • avatar

    The bones of this would make a good base for a replica of one of these:

    I wouldnt even mind a crazy LS1 type transplant.

  • avatar

    Sold well in Oakland

  • avatar

    After World War II Mitsubishi built versions of the Willys Jeep CJ-3 for many years. (Supposedly they built versions of Jeep products under license up until 1998, although I can’t find out what they might have built after the version of the CJ-3.)

    I always felt that the Pajero/Montero was like Mitsubishi’s take on what they thought the classic Jeep should evolve into. The original Mitsubishi Montero and the Dodge Raider were interesting alternatives to the Jeep CJ-7 and Wrangler. When the Montero (and Raider) were in production and being imported into the U.S. they were almost always compared to the Isuzu Trooper which was quite a bit larger, but initially only available as a 2-door.

    • 0 avatar

      Pajeros have changed though. It used to be that the Pajero was a popular family SUV that was a tad rough.

      Now the Pajero is one of the big THREE United Nations spec 2.5 ton SUVs… the Landcruiser, the Patrol and Pajero. Popular in the arab oil states and they start at $60,000 here which out of the reach of most but also more importantly, the running costs are too much.

      • 0 avatar

        The Pajero/Shogun/Raider never had very impressive suspension travel though with the latest models having all independent, where the other two have reasonable axle movement. It points to the Shogun being more intended for on road towing with a bit of light off tarmac use. Which they are apparently quite popular for.

        • 0 avatar

          “It points to the Shogun being more intended for on road towing with a bit of light off tarmac use. ”

          Lest we forget, Mitsu SUVs have a very long and successful Paris Dakar record. So rock crawlers they may not be, but for the sort of trails they’d most likely encounter even with offroad enthusiasts (overlanding type offroading), they do very well indeed.

  • avatar

    Cute little trucklet .

    The inclinomter appears to be broken….

    Looks pretty softly sprung .

    If this engine was so popular , why did these things always seem to die young ? .


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    We only received this vehicle in Oz as the Pajero. It also came with the 2.6 Astron that was fitted to many of Mitsubishi’s larger vehicles, ie, Sigma, Magna, Triton ute, etc. The 2.6 Astron was even fitted to Ford Rangers/B Series:BT50s.

    The most popular engine was the 2.5 turbo diesel variant. The 3 litre V6 would of been the second most popular and the bargain basement models only came with the 2.6 Astron.

    Also, the most popular Pajero’s were the long wheelbase 4 door variants. There were a few short wheelbase Pajero’s sold, but not many. Toyota’s 70 Series and Nissan Patrols offered far better off road prowess/capability/reliability that no other manufacturer globally could of matched, with sizable diesels and in line sixes.

    The Pajero sits on a shortened Triton pickup chassis (hence it offered sub par off road perfromance) like most of it’s comptetion of the era, ie, Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Pathfinder. Mitsubishi didn’t really find out how to build a decent vehicle for off road use until the mid/late 90s.

    These were quite agricultural in nature and habit, very Wrangler’esque, the best word to describe this vehicle along with the Wrangler is rustic.

    They appear not to be as durable in the longer term as it’s Toyota and Nissan competitors, but as Mitsubishi always does, it was the “cheapest” way for a family to get into a SUV.

  • avatar

    It’s interesting to me that the raider was only sold as two-door version. I wonder if Mitsubishi wouldn’t let them have the big one, or if Chrysler didn’t want to compete with the Cherokee further.

  • avatar

    The makes me miss my ’91 Isuzu Trooper. All 120hp from that 2.6. The 5-speed and top heaviness made for lots of fun driving a slow car (not really) fast. Many don’t realize how advanced they were for the time: 4-wheel disc brakes, multiport fuel injection, total disdain for aerodynamics.

  • avatar

    Galloper IIs were ubiquitous in Central America in the early 00s. They all had that offset hood scoop as well. Purple, two-tone silver and something else, garish graphics, ladders built into the tailgate, roof mounted spares or very large framed roof racks, limo tint, and stick on chrome arches, bezels, fuel caps, you name it. A certain type of guy gravitated toward these, and they were much, much more common than USDM imports like Blazers/Explorers.

  • avatar

    My brother-in-law has an 89 Raider sitting by his parents backyard shop/ barn. Been sitting for at least 8 years with a blown engine, slowly sinking into the south-Texas earth. I’m not sure why he keeps it around, I think he wanted to pass it down to his son initially but retracted that idea as he’s said himself that he went through 3 engines in the years that he did drive it.

  • avatar

    I have an ’89 Raider – V6 3.0 Liter, manual trans, original Colorado car with low mileage and in very good condition. Trying to find some parts. What I cannot figure out is which of the Monteros it is equivalent to. Is it a Sport? A Base? Found some parts for a Base but not sure what that really means. Can anyone tell me how to figure this out? And if you have a connection to parts – please let me know. THANK YOU!

  • avatar

    I have a 1987 Raider. Have really enjoyed this little brute. The Astron engine is not as much a deviant as many would report. With proper maintenance it will go a long way…mine currently has 182000 miles on it. Never anything worse than a blown head gasket at 135000 miles.

    It’s the same base motor (G54B) as the one in my ’86 Starion ESi-R, albeit the Starion variant came fuel injected, turbocharged and intercooled. I have since converted from TBI to MPI on the Starion (along with a host of other mods) and couldn’t be happier with the motor.

  • avatar

    What is the contact information for this salvage yard? I need some parts.

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