By on June 29, 2020

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven after the Mitsubishi Overlords began selling vehicles under their own badging in North America in the early 1980s, Chrysler continued selling those very same vehicles with Dodge, Plymouth, Eagle, and Chrysler emblems. One of these machines didn’t stay on sale for long, but captured the hearts of a devoted American following: the Dodge Raider, twin to the Mitsubishi Montero (aka Pajero).

Here’s one that acquired some mean-looking modifications before meeting its demise in Colorado Springs.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, fender badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsDodge Raiders sold here for just the 1987 through 1989 model years, but I still see quite a few of them here in Colorado (along with their near-identical Montero counterparts). Having a strong enthusiast base doesn’t keep all of them out of the jaws of The Crusher, however; so far I’ve documented this ’87 Raider, this ’87 Raider, this ’88 Raider, this ’88 Raider, and this ’90 Montero. I can see that I need to go shoot some discarded second-generation Monteros soon.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, RH IMPORTED FOR DODGE badge - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChrysler did away with these “IMPORTED BY” badges a few years later. Mitsubishi recycled the Raider name later on, with the Mitsu-badged Dodge Dakota of the middle 2000s.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAt some point, the owner of this truck decided that open-air off-roading would be more fun and Sawzalled off the roof.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, RH diamond plate edging - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe rollbar may or may not have replaced the lost structural solidity, but at least the diamond-plate covers over the raw edges of sliced metal kept passenger lacerations to a minimum.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, RH diamond plate edging - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsUsing steel instead of duct tape (or nothing at all) on the sliced-off portions of a Sawzall Roadster makes the difference between a vehicle that you’ll keep for another few years and one that you’ll dump after a few weeks. I know of a Plymouth Belvedere Sawzall Roadster that has been driving with no roof since the middle 1980s.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, RH Stay the Trail decal - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWe can assume this truck did its share of legal off-road driving, given the Stay the Trail sticker on the back.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, automatic gearshift - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis is the first junkyard Raider I’ve found with an automatic transmission. Nearly all US-market Monteros had two-pedal rigs by the middle 1990s, once the Pajero began the inexorable transition from jouncy off-roader to truck-shaped commuter.

1987 Dodge Raider in Colorado junkyard, front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSome junkyard shopper grabbed the Astron engine and most of the front bodywork.

With everything from automatic locking hubs Toyota’s base 4Runner won’t give you to an inclinometer Nissan doesn’t have.

Japanese-market TV ads for the first-gen Pajero had some funky soundtracks.

Pajeros sold all over the world, including Germany.

If you wanted four doors to make your conquest of the suburban jungle more comfortable, you had to get the Mitsubishi version.

For links to better than 2,000 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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12 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1987 Dodge Raider, Sawzall Roadster Edition...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I know they’re not practical or very safe, but I wish someone still made vehicles like this just for the fun of it :)

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      A base Wrangler is about as close as you’re gonna get. Or new Bronco? That’s if you gotta have “new” new, aside from moving to Africa, Oz, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        Which gets me thinking about the new Bronco two door. From the looks of it I don’t think it has the stability issues that the too short Bronco II had. Additionally it also has a wider track.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          ” but I wish someone still made vehicles like this just for the fun of it :)”

          I thought that was what Mahindra was trying to do : https://www.cardekho.com/india-car-news/will-the-new-mahindra-thar-be-a-no-compromise-suv-25702.htm

          A death trap just like the originals : use wisely or die .

          -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          CombiNation

          I doubt the track width is much different… this era of CJ, Bronco II, Monty/Raider, 4Runner, Trooper were all around 55-56 inches I think. And wheelbase most of these two-doors was usually 90-95 inches. By the late ’80s, these rigs were starting to get wider factory axles.

          As far as stability goes, they ALL had issues, especially if being driven at highway speeds. But in most situations they were all pretty predictable.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Yes, but we know that a lightly equipped Wrangler or Bronco are going to be in the $40K+ category and that’s too much for a “fun” little SUV. Jeep comes close with the Renegade, I just wish they would open it up some

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          If you wanna play, you gotta pay. Except the Wrangler starts under $30K. Yeah I know it comes loaded with stereotypical undertones and you gotta do the Wrangler wave at other Wrangler people.

          $40K is Rubicon territory, but maybe your limit is $20K? How about a side-by-side/UTV/ATV you can transport to the trial?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            No, but you would think someone could do an open SUV nicely equipped for under $30K. It’s tough to find a $30K Wrangler

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Red Green would be proud…

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’m no body guy, but the diamond plate work looks good, almost like it’s supposed to be there.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    One of my neighbors had one of these. A Wrangler is no comparison – the Raider was MUCH narrower, and as tall as me – 6 feet. I think that was close to a Model-T. My neighbor tipped his over a couple times, and after replacing the glass the first time, put homemade plexi on it after the second time. He ended up selling it for parts, and bought a well-used ’74 Bronco with a 302, smog exempt in CA. I’d tell you what he thought of the 2.6 4-banger in the Raider, but kids might read it.

    • 0 avatar
      CombiNation

      I had a Montero with the 2.6. I thought it was okay, very smooth for a four-cylinder. The fuel mileage wasn’t great for the power, but the smoothness was a revelation. Also, the 4wd engagement was very good compared to the Jeep SJ I had before. The engine had some weaknesses—the balance-shaft tensioner had to be manually adjusted and needed to be checked because the oil pump ran off the same chain. And the MCA-jet valves would get clogged, reducing compression.

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