By on October 11, 2019

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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42 Comments on “Rare Rides: A 1987 Dodge Raider, Lil’ Red Montero Sibling...”

  • avatar

    Nice find, I forgot about these.

    • 0 avatar

      Seriously, and it was just up the road a couple of miles from me. Not that I’m in the market right now, but this dealer seems to have a nice stock of good older cars. Hmmm…

      And with that, a message from Our Supercharged Lord and Savior.

      If my kid was smart, she’d buy something like this cash and run it to death versus taking a car loan.

      • 0 avatar
        Greg Hamilton

        What a find. That’s a great car. A Pontiac without the Fisher-Price dashboard and as you said a 3800 Supercharged. If GM built cars like this today, they wouldn’t be in the trouble they are in.

        • 0 avatar

          What, a biggish FWD midsize with a large-displacement six? Sounds like an Impala to me, but it’s dying (get one while you can), and the LaCrosse is dead.

          The folks buying these 15 years ago are buying CUVs now. The market has changed. I find that kind of sad too (I have an ’03 LeSabre that’s still motoring on), but that’s the way it goes, you know?

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    I remember these but they were rare even at the time. They would have greatly benefited from a removable top.

    In this class, I think the one to have would have been the Isuzu Amigo. Nice little trucks as I recall, but I understand they did poorly in crash tests.

  • avatar

    Kinda getting a Sarah Conner vibe, but -1000 points for the purple socks.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I don’t think we got the Diesel version of the Montero/Raider here in the states.
    The last Isuzu Trooper Diesel was offered here in the 85 model year. It had the 2.2 Turbodiesel with the cool hood scoop.

  • avatar

    Damn, I’d buy this, and it was just a few miles up the road from me. Wonder how much it went for?

    Ooooh, they also have this baby on the lot…

    Might need to pay ’em a visit this weekend. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Are these $35 these days?

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know much about this car other than it’s completely bad-a** and I’ve always wanted one, but this one seems fairly well priced given the low mileage.

        Not that I’m going to buy it, of course – I’m not buying anything right now. But, damn, it’s worth a look-see. These guys also have a few cheap used rides I want to show my kid – lease is up on my old Jetta that she’s been driving as of next month, and she’s not buying it out (it’s a manual…ewwwww), so she’ll need something of her own.

        Tried out the Golf yet? I think I may have oversold it a bit…:) It’s still a great car, though.

  • avatar

    There was a 88 Raider with the 5 spd and working a/c near me for $3500 not long ago. The thing was in really nice shape, the navy blue paint may have been a respray since it didn’t have any fade but if that was the case it was a good paintjob nonetheless. The engine had been rebuilt in the last couple of years. Overall I liked it but I wasn’t in the market for a 30 year import; I had just sold my 84 Nissan 720 4×4 which had me going through countless repairs and wanted a daily driver

    • 0 avatar

      Was it the V6? I worked for a new car dealer one summer in college, and we had two new 1989 Raider V6 5-speeds that I probably used as my transportation as often as any new cars on our lots. With the V6 and manual, they were reasonably peppy and had features like a suspended driver’s seat and dual inclinometers on the dash to encourage bad behavior. I don’t know how they held up, as I never encountered one that wasn’t nearly new. I’ve seen a couple of Mistubishi/Dodge/Plymouth pickups with respectable mileages though.

  • avatar

    I find it interesting that essentially every single interior material has improved in quality by many orders of magnitude in non-lux cars… *except seat fabric*. Dash plastics are vastly better, carpets are better, trim is better, door cards and center consoles and instrument surrounds and controls and buttons and gauges, all hugely better – except seat fabric, which is now abysmal when it’s not leather. Does anyone know why this is?

    • 0 avatar
      Thomas Kreutzer

      I’d say that for the most part it isn’t that much better these days than it used to be, it’s just that it ages so terribly. I remember a lot of old car with really nice interiors material at the time that have just come apart. My 91 Hardbody is a good example. It was nice stuff back in the day and while it isn’t totally cooked it’s definitely not as good as it was.

      • 0 avatar

        Correct. I liked how the 80s and 90s cars had more soft touch materials than the same cars you could buy as early as 5 years ago. For example the early to late 90s Corolla had soft dash and door cards while my former 2009 Corolla was all hard plastics (even on the freaking center console). The 1984 Nissan pickup I sold 2 months ago had more soft touch plastics than a 2019 Frontier, that’s just insane. The only trade-off about those interiors were that they were more prone to crack, specially on the dash.
        I suspect the newer vehicles with slightly less padding are a bit more resistant or just have a different formula with improved UV resistance or something

        • 0 avatar

          I remember reading it has everything to do with airbags. Pre-airbags, the dashboards had to be padded because the chances of injury from striking the dash, even belted, were high. Now there are airbags in every nook and cranny, and the chances of even touching the dash in a crash is much lower, so they don’t need all of the padding. Now it’s done for luxury and quality, not safety.

    • 0 avatar


      Agreed on the seat fabric. Additionally, some current seat fabrics are just weird (by design I think).

      Some current leather is strange-ish and not very good. (And now you have me thinking of pleather and I’m a little sad.)

  • avatar

    Oh Lord! Let me save anybody who is even remotely interested in one of these Raiders from a complete nightmare. I bought one of these brand new in 1987 and it was even the same red/grey color as this one. It was the 4 cylinder with automatic transmission.

    GUTLESS. I promise you have NEVER driven a car so underpowered as this thing. NOTHING. Just horrible. On the hills of Western Massachusetts it would top out at less than 60 mph (on the highway uphills). Engine racing at top RPM and going nowhere. Death is all around you in this thing.

    I junked mine at only 82K miles after blowing TWO engines. I rebuilt it once and refused to do it again.

    Also rust is Mitsubishi’s friend. That’s irrefutable. Under the hood you will see aluminum that rusts! All metal parts pit so badly they become unservicable. Clearly made out of the poorest metal they could mix together.

    Even back in the day when there WERE ACTUAL Mitsubishi dealers they would NOT sell you the part that you needed…only WHOLE ASSEMBLIES. Need JUST an AC pulley? FARK YOU..WHOLE AC ASSEMBLY ONLY!

    The only(and I mean ONLY) upside to this vehicle was it was truly great in snow. It would go anywhere and if you broke into a slide even at highway speed it was a snap to get it back inline.

    But the ridiculously unreliable and gutless engine put this truck firmly in the RUN AWAY FROM category. The worst car I ever owned and I owned a Peugeot 505 gas turbo…so that saying something. Just JUNK!

    • 0 avatar

      You bought a brick-shaped offroader with big tires, a small engine, strapped to a slushbox, flogged it to death trying to race uphill on highways, and write it off as junk after it blew two engines? Your expectations were what, exactly? Might as well say you bought a 560SEL for logging roads, and deride it for blowing axles and sucking gas, but as a footnote, praise its one redeeming feature as being great on the highway. Different tools for different tasks, with different limitations.

      Did anything back then (or now) actually used in winter on the Rust Coast hold up any better?

      • 0 avatar


        We have a possible opening for a Customer Relationship Manager – would you have any interest at all in filling this position? (You seem extremely well qualified.)

      • 0 avatar

        “Race Uphill” hahahaha What are you talking about?

        It wouldnt even go highway speeds if there was even a slight uphill!! You couldnt even keep up with traffic on the Mass Turnpike!! People passing you on both sides flipping you the bird!

        Flogged?? I am a mechanic! I babied this thing especially after I painstakingly rebuilt the motor figuring it was a fluke. But then AGAIN the motor locked up pulling into the UPS parking lot where I worked.

        Just a pathetic overstressed 4 banger with a poor thermal solution.

        READ ABOVE….one person posted a used Raider for sale WITH REBUILT ENGINE!! I know one guy in CT that rebuilt his 3 times before abandoning it.

        You will NEVER find a 1987 today that hasnt had a rebuild.

        It was just the cheapest poorest engineered DISPOSABLE engine like ALL Mistubishi junk.

        Mistubishi is an OEM supplier to the industry. They make CHEAP disposable JUNK for manufacturers trying to save a buck. (Rodney King era Hyundais were all Mistu drivetrains)

        Consider this….Theres a reason they sold a BAZILLION Eclipses yet there are nearly NONE on the road today. Whens the last time you saw a late 80’s early 90’s Eclipse in traffic?

        This forum is the TRUTH about cars. And if we told the truth Mistubishi is GONE from America for a good reason. Anybody who bought one would never buy another. Thats irrefultable.

        Friends dont let friends drive Mitsubishis.

        • 0 avatar
          schmitt trigger


          All you are saying is absolutely true! I also had one of these, exact same color tone, gas engine with a 5 speed manual, and it was the worse vehicle I have ever owned in over 45 years.

          I also had to rebuild the engine twice, plus myriads of other defects.
          When the front axle’s diff seized up on a rare occasion I actually used 4WD, I knew it was time to ditch it.

          What a POS!

    • 0 avatar


      I’m happy that you are pleased with your purchase, and I will pass your very positive feedback (“truly great in snow!”) on to our dealer principal and to Mitsubishi management.

      In the coming weeks, you may receive a satisfaction survey by mail. If there is *any* reason you cannot rate your Mitsubishi vehicle and our dealership as *ALL 5 STARS*, please contact my manager directly.

      Thank you again for your purchase, and for being a loyal member of the Mitsubishi company of fine automotive products.

  • avatar

    Well it tops the cute trucklet scale for me and he says it’s good in the snow….

    I grew up Down East and _everything_ rusted to scrap in three years orless from all the salt Ma. used


    • 0 avatar

      Not true at all. I have 1980s vehicles today with almost no rust and have been here in New England their whole existence.

      People who dont maintain their vehicles end up with clapped out rust buckets.

      And to be clear…..

      The Raider and twin brother the Montero were based on the Rally winning (At the time) Mitsubishi Pajero.

      So the vehicle did have some legit off road roots.

      It handled better than a modern day wrangler with far less body roll.

      If that truck had a more reliable and powerful motor it would be a great little off roader.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanx ;

        I grew up with under powered 4 cylinder Jeeps and so on, they did fine in the chop, snow and woods, they just didn’t do it at 90MPH like everyone thinks they need to do now .

        I’m pleased to hear this cute little thing wasn’t a bad one .


  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

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