Rare Rides: A 1987 Dodge Raider, Lil' Red Montero Sibling

rare rides a 1987 dodge raider lil red montero sibling

Today’s Rare Ride is the rarely seen Dodge version of Mitsubishi’s most famous off-road SUV. It’s a Raider, from 1987.

Long before the Mitsubishi Raider existed as a near-clone of the Dodge Dakota, the Dodge Raider existed as a twin to the Mitsubishi Montero. Such Chrysler-Mitsubishi badge swaps are nothing new to Rare Rides: We’ve previously featured the unique Colt Vista, followed by the reader favorite Plymouth Champ.

By the time the Raider arrived wearing its Dodge badges, the Montero was nothing new in North America. Mitsubishi introduced its all-new SUV for the 1982 model year, where it was available only in three-door, short-wheelbase guise. Shortly thereafter the five-door version arrived, which was generally more suited to the family driving needs of North America. Critically, seating capacity went up from five to seven people with the available third-row seat. Dodge wanted in on the action.

The year was 1987, and the Montero received some luxury-oriented updates for its fifth year: two-tone paint, heated seats, a new sound system, and alloy wheels. But those features were reserved for Mitsubishi models, specifically the long-wheelbase format. The Raider was introduced that same year, but was limited in scope to the three-door version. Raider offered the same inline-four engines as Montero, in gasoline (2.6L) and diesel (2.3L) varieties. Upscale customers could spring for the 3-liter V6, and four-wheel drive was standard across the range.

Dodge pitched the Raider as similar in capability to the Jeep Wrangler, and freely admitted it was a Japanese vehicle in the marketing. A proud import was “The Tough New Spirit of Dodge.”

The Raider didn’t exude enough of that new spirit though, as its tenure next to the Ram 50 at Dodge dealerships lasted only three years. It bowed out in 1989, and Dodge went without a compact SUV until 2007 when it introduced another oddball — the Nitro.

The internet’s memory of the Raider is not a strong one. Finding good condition Raiders with good pictures, or any for sale is a challenge, and your author’s never seen one equipped with a V6. Today’s unusual two-tone Rare Ride was for sale at a dealership in Colorado, but sold sometime recently. It had no air conditioning, an automatic transmission, manual windows, and 125,000 miles on the odometer.

[Images: seller, Dodge]

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 13, 2019

    I love the passenger side "oh sh!t" towel bar on the dash. I guess they didn't catch on since you could bang you head on it, even if you do brace for impact or the landing.

  • GenesisCoupe380GT GenesisCoupe380GT on Apr 07, 2020

    it's like finding a working black and white TV that still has the working rabbit ears antenna

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.